Cable station given a makeover

22:30, Nov 11 2012
Cable Station
Retro-fit: Marlborough South Department of Conservation seasonal ranger Bruce Knight is helping restore part of the historic Cable Station at Whites Bay, near Blenheim. The building dates from 1866 and merges both old and new – accommodation for DOC rangers at the back and the old cable station, which is being preserved as a visitor attraction, at the front.

A historic building at Whites Bay near Blenheim is undergoing the first stage of a makeover in preparation for its transformation into a visitor attraction.

The Historic Places Trust building, which has been on site since 1866, is on Department of Conservation land.

Staff at the Marlborough South DOC office have three weeks, from Monday last week, to spruce up the building. Work includes painting the outside of the building, treating rotting wood, oiling its wooden floors and patching up any holes.

Cable Station
Spruced up: Bruce Knight in the Whites Bay Cable Station

"We're fixing up the stuff that's stuffed," said DOC seasonal ranger Bruce Knight, who is one of the team working on the project.

The aim was to preserve the front of the building, where both its history and that of the bay would be displayed on panels.

While the opening of the refurbished building was still some time away, Mr Knight was relishing the opportunity to exercise his handiwork. The restoration was also a great idea, especially as it allowed people to connect with their heritage, he said.


"I've been spending a bit of time working out on Molesworth Station, and every second person you come across there has some type of connection to the place - whether it's their uncle or their cousin or brother who's worked there. It's a bit like that here.

"Maybe they had a grandfather or great-grandfather who was here; it's neat for them to be able to come here and sit on the porch where their forefathers once sat - or foremothers," he laughed.

Marlborough South DOC community relations programme manager Shelly Sidley said the building had been rebuilt by the Government in the 1970s.

The first telegraph cable was laid in 1866 from Lyall Bay to Whites Bay, and the first message was telegraphed to Wellington on August 26, 1866.

Up to 12 permanent staff, all men, worked there before it closed in 1896.

The Marlborough Express