Battle is on to preserve Langley Dale

Langley Dale, North Bank Road, Marlborough.
Langley Dale, North Bank Road, Marlborough.

An historic Marlborough homestead is for sale and several community members are desperate to keep it in community hands.

They are calling for Langley Dale homestead to be restored as a regional treasure and tourist attraction.

The homestead, in the Northbank, Wairau Valley, was signed to Ray White Real Estate last week.

Langley Dale owners, fifth generation Adams family cousins Geoff and Richard Adams did not return Marlborough Express phone calls at the weekend but are understood to be reluctantly putting the house on the market after 160 years in the family.

The 1.2 hectare property is one of the earliest sites of European settlement in Marlborough.

Ownership of the property passed to the Adams cousins upon the death in 2007 of its previous owner, Anne Davis.

The house is recognised by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a category one historic property, meaning it cannot be torn down.

Marlborough district councillor Gerald Hope has called for preservation of the house to be turned into a community project.

Mr Hope hoped community interest could generate money to purchase and restore the house.

"It's a big challenge but it's worth doing. Once Langley Dale's gone, it's gone forever."

During his term as mayor in 1998 to 2001, Mr Hope and members of the Langley Dale Homestead charitable trust almost reached an agreement with the Adams family to buy the house for about $80,000, but Richard Adams refused to sell his share of the property.

Trustee Karen Fisher said members had spent hours during the late 1990s looking at restoring options for the house. The trust no longer exists. "It's distressing to remember that the last member of the family to live there, Anne, died without seeing her greatest wish realised – to see the family home preserved and protected.

"It would be wonderful ... if this decision to sell ultimately leads to proper care being taken of this properly."

Real estate agent Mike Stanton declined to comment to The Marlborough Express.

Meanwhile, Blenheim couple Bill and Sonia Borlase were horrified when they saw Langley Dale up for sale. They had visited several times as part of the Beavertown Probus group and fell in love with the homestead. "It really needs to be taken over by several community groups who will fundraise and bring it back to what it was, and open it to the public."

Mrs Borlase believed it should be turned in to a tourism venture for the region because of its history and close proximity to Blenheim.

In 1859, the house hosted Thomas Gore Browne, governor of New Zealand. There he signed documents separating Marlborough from Nelson province, and William Adams, who built the homestead, became the first superintendent of Marlborough.

Expressions of interest close on September 17.

The Marlborough Express