Topic: Retaining Wall and Wrought Iron Fence, 11 Vivian Street (circa 1902)

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Retaining Wall and Wrought Iron Fence, 11 Vivian Street, 2017

2017 View: By Hamish Crimp

This retaining wall constructed of Taranaki andesite, with a low wrought iron fence, is the best example of its type left in New Plymouth. It is characteristic of retaining walls constructed in New Plymouth during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

Town Section 736 was purchased by William Dawson Webster, who also owned several neighbouring sections, from Frederick Alonzo Carrington in 1879. The property remained vacant for a number of years and it wasn’t until about 1896-97 that Webster had a single-storey villa erected on the site. The 1896-97 rating book makes no mention of a house on Town Section 736 and unfortunately the rates books for 1897-1900 are presently missing. However, during April 1897 Webster advertised a new six-roomed cottage to let in Vivian Street and may refer to this property. The present retaining wall was not erected at the same time as the house and is absent from a circa 1898 photograph of the property.

In October 1900 Town Section 736 and house was purchased from Webster by accountant Hugh Baily. The Baily’s initially resided in the single-storey villa, however in early 1902 commissioned noted New Plymouth architect Frank Messenger to design extensive additions to the house, which was at that stage less than a decade old. Frank Messenger was at the time the Baily’s neighbour, residing in the house at present 17 Vivian Street, designed by Messenger and erected in 1899-1900. The additions completely altered the house and involved the addition of a second storey; a permit for this work was granted to Baily by the New Plymouth Borough Council on the 5th of April 1902 and had an estimated cost of £330.

It seems highly likely that the present stone retaining wall and fence was constructed at the time of the 1902 additions, with Frank Messenger the probable architect. Messenger had earlier had a stone wall constructed at his own house and also designed the concrete and iron retaining wall and fence on the Vivian Street frontage of nearby St Mary’s Church a year earlier.

The villa on this property was replaced with four units in 1974, however, the stone retaining wall with wrought iron fence was retained.

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Retaining Wall and Wrought Iron Fence, 11 Vivian Street (circa 1902)

City:New Plymouth