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 Thomas H. Bates: Architect

Thomas Bates’ Work in Context

The three individuals who have most affected the present cityscape of New Plymouth are the surveyor, Frederic Alonso Carrington and architects, Frank Messenger and Thomas Bates.

Carrington was responsible for the city’s location and the present street pattern of the central area.

Bates’ buildings, also substantially located within this area, remain, even today, major high-profile structures in the city.

His near-contemporary colleague, Frank Messenger (1865-1945) also in his time had a major effect on New Plymouth’s skyline. Messenger’s mainly wooden commercial buildings have , however, long-since been demolished and his impact is now seen mostly in the dozens of wooden bungalows in the suburbs established in the early 20th century. Although over 300 surviving Messenger-designed buildings were identified by local architect Ian Prichard in 1994, many are of this domestic type and not as overtly visible as Bates’ commercial structures.

During his life Thomas Bates did not design many domestic residences and most of those he did are usually large two-storied California bungalow-type. Many appear to have been completed for friends or business acquaintances.

Bates’ commercial buildings were, from the beginning, largely brick or reinforced concrete and thus a large percentage have survived although many may be threatened in the future as maintenance costs become increasingly high and building standards become stricter. 


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Macduffs Building.

MacDuffs Building 2017

2017 View: By Hamish Crimp

This building facing King Street sits on the same title as the one behind it on Devon Street West.

It was designed by T.H.Bates and erected in 1928 for the New Plymouth businessman, J.W.Kurta. A building permit was issued on 1 March, 1928 and the contractor was F.Grayling. The estimated cost was £2,475. The building behind it facing Devon Street West was also built for Kurta - see linked topic.

In the attached photograph taken in 1941 by Fred Butler the name Macduffs Ltd. can

H. Derby & Co Ford Dealers.

H. Derby & Co Ford Dealers 

This building was erected in 1919 for the local Ford agents, H.Derby & Co. Ltd. It combined showrooms, offices, spare parts, workshop, pumps, and storage for up to 80 vehicles.

It was designed by T.H.Bates and built by Boon Bros. for the contract price of £5,325 and 10s.

Located on the south side of Devon Street East in the block between Liardet and Gover Streets. It was one of the buildings demolished to make way for "The Warehouse".

(see linked images for views of Devon Street East in 1940-41)

Kurta's Restaurant.

Kurta's Restaurant 

The building circled above was built in 1940 for Eric Marinovich and Jacob Kurta. The two-storey concrete building, designed by T.H.Bates, replaced a wooden building which had also housed a restaurant run by the men.

A building permit was issued on February 8, 1940, the builders were Jones & Sandford, and the estimated cost £4,300.

In 1941 their newly built restaurant was advertised as "New Zealand's Most Modern Fish Restaurant". A particular design feature was a large rear window constructed of glass bricks.

The building was located on north-side

Dining Room - Criterion Hotel.

Dining Room - Criterion Hotel 

Criterion Hotel Dining Room before the Royal Visit - 1954

One of Bates' last contracts (in 1952-53) was to upgrade the interior rooms of the Criterion Hotel for the forthcoming visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in January 1954.

Dining Block & Maid's Quarters.

Dining Block & Maid's Quarters  

Dining Block & Maid's Quarters

New Plymouth Boys' High School


 Architect: Thomas H Bates

 Plans held by Puke Ariki - M7/19

Thomas Herbert Bates

T.H Bates

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