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Heritage grant for historic racecourse Tea House

27 June 2008

The 105- year-old Tea House at Riccarton Park Racecourse will benefit from a Christchurch City Council grant of just over $70,000 towards its continued restoration.

The Council has approved a heritage grant of $72,360 to the Riccarton Park Restoration Charitable Trust which follows a $50,000 grant made in 2006.

The money will be used to continue restoration work on the Tea House including, repairs, painting and site work.  The restoration  is due to be finished  in time for Cup and Show Week in November and will total about $800,000 most of which has been fundraised by the Trust.

The  Historic Places Trust category II listed building was built in late 1903 at a cost of

£1500 and was part of a programme of improvements to mark the 1904 Golden Jubilee of the Canterbury Jockey Club (CJC) .  The CJC was established in 1854 at a public meeting chaired by JR Cracroft Wilson and has had the oldest continuous existence of any club in New Zealand. 

The Tea House was designed by Luttrell Brothers and is of timber construction sited to the west of the park’s grandstands on a landscaped area surrounded by a moat, effectively making it an island.  It is the only remaining building of its era and type in New Zealand.

The Press at the time of construction noted that:  “ . . . the ornamental Tea House with its broad verandahs under which in warm days one can lounge or take light refreshments; the artificial waters encircling the island upon which this new structure stands surrounded by a belt of fir trees and pretty borders, so planted that there shall be a constant succession of bloom, present a scene such as cannot be surpassed for beauty by any Australasian race course . ..” (The Press November 4 1903)

Council Heritage Grants Committee chairperson Councillor Helen Broughton said she was delighted that the Council was further supporting the project.

“It is an elegant Edwardian building of both regional and national significance.  But in a societal sense,  is also interesting that its purpose was to provide a venue for women to take tea and refreshments on the racecourse because they were not allowed to do so with the men in the Stewart Stand. Remarkably this situation only changed, to my knowledge,  in the 1970s.”

Cr Broughton said she wanted to  acknowledge the work of the Trust under the leadership of Lesley Keast who had chaired it since its inception.


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