Thursday, November 19, 2015

Timeball To Rise Again

As it was...
The Lyttelton Timeball will be restored in an epic $3.4 million effort.
The Timeball Station (c.1876) was "mechanical Victoriana in action", the high tech of its day. Overlooking Lyttelton Harbour, it told mariners the exact moment it was 1pm each day, and was one of only five working timeballs in the world.
It was also home to the Timeball Keepers who, like lighthouse keepers, lived in their station.
When radio technology made the timeball obsolete in the 1930s, the building carried on as a residence, eventually owned by Heritage New Zealand. It got the timeball working again, turfed out the tenants, installed a museum...and then the earthquakes struck. After the Feb.2011 quake, there was no way the Cat.1 heritage building could be repaired.
So here's what's happening now? The octagonal 15metre tower and the timeball on top will be reconstructed - forget the residence. This'll start in July 2016 and will take 12 months. The new tower must comply with the Building Code, so there will be plenty of concrete, steel and block, hidden behind the salvaged heritage stones. The timeball and associated mechanisms will be restored, which will almost certainly involve casting new iron parts, rather than buying new gearing.
The timeball will work, but probably won't fall every day: that'll be reserved for special occasions or perhaps some schedule yet to be decided.
Ferrymead Heritage Park is currently the storage site for the salvaged materials: tower stone, the timeball, its mechanism, plenty of timber, whatever survived of the's estimated that about 2000 salvaged stones will be used to skin the new tower.
Total cost: approx.$3.4 million, of which HeritageNZ already has $2.6m. Stand by for some public fundraising next year...

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