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Preserving heritage values - the BGI

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 9 months ago

The Boys Institute (originally)


Tasman Street building







BGI Swimming Pool and historic building at 68/71 Tasman Street


The Old Boys and Girls Institute swimming pool building is now owned by Foodstuffs and is the site for a proposed supermarket, apartments, petrol station and liquor store. The building is currently not listed by the Historic Places Trust and is not in the District Plan. The building is planned for demolition, pending approval, in early 2008. In addition to the potential loss of this historic building, there will be the loss of a community swimming pool open to the public in the suburb of Mount Cook, and very importantly the loss of Wellington's only dedicated 'Learn to Swim' school run by Scott Wilson of TSW. Let's try save the façade and front part of the buidling - foyer and balcony, at least from a historical point of view, by urging the WCC to list the building in the District Plan, thereby offering it some protection from demolition!


Some building background and history

The BGI Swimming Pool was first established in 1883 when a group of young members of St John's in the City Presbyterian Church donated money to set up bathing facilities for disadvantaged children and youths, whose families used their baths to store coal. The Tasman street pool is 97 years old and was the first indoor swimming pool in the Southern Hemisphere. When council started setting up swimming pools to cater for the public, the pool and gymnasium was sold in 1999 by St John's Church in the City to fund other more innovative youth programmes.


Built in the early 1900s as the Boys Institute pool, it became TSW Aquatics in 1993 and was re-branded TSW Swim School in 2004.  The Boys and Girls Institute (BGI) was established in 1883 by a group of young people associated with St John's. It is an organisation committed to the development of youth in the community. Most Wellingtonians will associate the name of BGI with the gymnasium and swimming pool facilities that it used to own on Tasman St, now owned by Foodstuffs.


Posted by Julia Ames

Sources: 2002/2003 St John's In The City Annual Report (PDF)


Interesting trivia

Richard Taylor, of Weta fame, whilst a student at the then Wellington Polytechnic School of Design shot his first video in and around the B&GI swimming pool in Tasman Street.

Source: Peter Frater



Houses on the Corner of Rugby and Belfast Sts



These buildings are also located on the same block.  We are unsure whether they will be preserved or not . One thing is certain, they are unique structures, being out of the ordinary for houses built in Wellington at that time.


Arthur Street building


BGI Historic Gymnasium Relocation - 30 Arthur Street 12 September 2005


Archaeological Finds


This building, commissioned by the Boys’ Institute, was designed by William Gray Young of Crichton and McKay, and built in 1906 for £1334. His Excellency the Rt Hon William Lee Baron Plunket, Governor of NZ laid the foundation stone, still located on the building, on 3 October 1906.


At the time of construction, the two-storey non-reinforced brick masonry building housed a ground floor gymnasium and swimming pool, with a classroom and hall on the floor above. The building has been modified since construction, however, its original design comprised an Edwardian Free Style interpretation of the Queen Anne style with Gothic and Classical elements. The building is constructed of brick masonry with an internal structure of large timer posts, beams and trusses. A swimming pool that existed at the back of the building was removed as part of the relocation preparation.


The Boys’ Institute began as part of the YMCA’s Sunday Evening Mission School. In the early 1880’s, the Boys’ Institute developed into a separate entity with its own rooms on leasehold land near the Star Boating Club. When the land was taken over for Tramway Works, the Institute raised over £600 to finance a building in Arthur St.


The Institute developed quickly and had out grown its Arthur St premise within a year or so. In February 1907, an attempt was made to auction the building unsuccessfully and a campaign was launched for a bigger building. With a large donation of land in Tasman St, and cash from Mrs Sarah Ann Rhodes, a building on the Tasman St land was commenced in 1914. Additional premises were erected in 1924.


The Boys’ Institute, unlike the other buildings in Arthur St, was built to the street edge, and extended to both side boundaries. The building contrasted with the other old buildings in Arthur St in function, form and design.


The building is not registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. It is listed on Wellington City Council District Plan as a heritage building.


New Location

The building will be located 13 metres north of its original position, to a new address 14 Kelvin Grove.


Construction Update

27 July 2005 - Works commence to strengthen the building for relocation.

16 September 2005 - The building is relocated 13 metres within 4½ hours.


How Was It Moved?

The 400-tonne building was originally due to be demolished as it was considered unmovable, but Transit New Zealand found a solution through specialised movers, Building Solutions, to save and relocate the building.


A combination of Teflon technology and railway tracks was used to move the building. The building was gently lowered onto 2.5cm-thick Teflon blocks, which sat between the building and the two steel beams that held the building up. The Teflon-technology provides a “non-stick” surface, similar to the Teflon coating on household frying pans, which helps the building to be carefully pushed to its new location.


The Teflon blocks slid on a steel runway platform, coated with silicon to reduce friction. The building was pulled, then pushed into its new position using two pneumatic rams.


Posted by Julia Ames

Source: The Boys and Girls Institute "Site"


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