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Donor fronts to save Lyttelton Timeball Station

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2012
Timeball Station before quake
GRANT SHEEHAN
Lyttelton's Timeball Station, photographed in December 2008.
Timeball Station after quake
DON SCOTT/The Press
The station, photographed on February 23, the day after the 6.3 magnitude quake.

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A mystery donor has stepped in to help resurrect Lyttelton's earthquake-damaged Timeball Station.

The 136-year-old building, one of five working timeball stations in the world, was damaged in the September 2010 and February 2011 quakes, before collapsing in June 2011 just weeks after restoration work started.

The Press understands about $1 million has been offered for a new rebuild project.

One proposal was to rebuild the tower using salvaged materials.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust heritage destinations southern region manager Paul McGahan confirmed the donation but said the amount and the donor's identity were confidential.

The trust would seek community feedback on proposals at the Lyttelton Farmers' Market on Saturday and through an online survey, he said.

"It's potentially very positive for the site and the town of Lyttelton . . . but it's far from a definite situation at this stage. Let's see what [the community] has got to say about it," McGahan said.

Last year, materials were salvaged, catalogued and stored, and the grounds landscaped and fenced off.

The timeball itself was touring New Zealand with the Canterbury Museum earthquake exhibition.

A geotechnical survey was "favourable" for rebuilding on the site, McGahan said.

It was unlikely the donation would cover the full cost, he said.

"The first thing to establish is do the residents and wider community want something at that site? You can imagine that cost would be pretty significant for a total rebuild to happen there."

The survey can be taken at surveymonkey.com/s/timeball until December 9.

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- The Press

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