Katherine Mansfield's bach 'all gone now'

02:19, Jun 25 2013
Zach Simm
DAMAGED GOODS: Zach Simm with a copy of Katherine Mansfield's short stories, in the home the author formerly lived in.

Nearly all their possessions are gone, but at least the owners of Katherine Mansfield's former family bach escaped with their lives.

The historic property in Marine Drive, Eastbourne, which features in Mansfield's story At The Bay, and has been home to the Simm family for the past 11 years, was heavily damaged when a wave took out the dining room window early on Friday.

Zach Simm, 22, son of Peter and Petra Simm, said his parents were still too upset to talk about what happened.

"My dad said he got up at about 12.45am after he heard a window smash. He went to the front door to get a piece of plywood and saw there was a lot of water building up around the house.

"He went back inside to get Mum, and a huge wave took out the dining room window, so they grabbed the dogs and made a run for it to the neighbours."

Zach Simm, who now flats in the city, said he was devastated when he arrived at his childhood home the next day. "I got there and pretty much everything had been washed out by the sea.

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"There's not much left to salvage. I'd say 90 per cent of their possessions are gone.

"The kitchen bench had been lifted, cupboards ripped off, the oven was outside and the fridge was in the lounge."

He said tour groups often visited his childhood home and he always knew it was a special place to live.

"[Katherine Mansfield] even wrote about one of the windows in some of her work. It's pretty sad that's just all gone now."

The house had taken a beating by storms over the years, but his family had only experienced one broken window.

"The house has been pounded by so many storms before and it's still standing after 117 years. We never thought anything like this could happen."

His parents were now staying with relatives in Wellington, and waiting to hear from their insurers and the Historical Places Trust to find out if they could ever return to their home.

The Dominion Post