$75,000 given to restore old jail

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 06/08/2014
nick smith
JOHN EDENS/ Fairfax NZ

Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced a $75,000 grant to help restore the Arrowtown jail.

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Conservation Minister Nick Smith has announced a $75,000 grant to help restore the Arrowtown jail.

The Georgian-style category 1 listed "gaol" was built in 1875 at a cost of £500 and is the fourth-oldest jail in New Zealand.

However, Cardigan St building has fallen into disrepair and needs earthquake strengthening, damp repairs and plastering.

Grant funds will be used by the Wakatipu Heritage Trust to shore up the jail and preserve the town's goldmining era heritage.

Lake District Museum director David Clarke said the Government, at one stage, planned to demolish the building but the community rallied to keep the only goldfields jail in the country. The overall cost estimate to repair the jail was $180,000, he said.

"It needs re-plastering and re-strengthening. You will find it's worth it, we have hundreds of children coming through here [for education]."

Smith said the jail needed work urgently otherwise there was a risk of the building being irreparable and lost. "It's just so important protecting the natural heritage and the rich historical heritage.

"Arrowtown is a tourism icon for Queenstown and New Zealand. We need to maintain unique historic buildings like the gaol if we are to retain what makes Arrowtown such an interesting place. The Wakatipu Heritage Trust has the ambition to not just restore the jail but to bring it to life with innovative technology."

The grant from the Government is part of its community conservation partnership announced in March, a $26 million commitment over four years for natural heritage and recreation projects.

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