Historic hut rescued from Sumner cliff

22:52, Feb 26 2013
Valerie and David Crichton
MIXED EMOTIONS: Valerie and David Crichton farewell the cabin which has been in their family's care for 40 years.

A historic cabin has been rescued from the edge of an earthquake-crumbled clifftop in Christchurch this morning.

The hut was removed from Kinsey Tce in Sumner and taken to public conservation land at Godley Head, where it will be restored and made open to the public.

In 1911, the cabin was taken to the Antarctic by the Terra Nova expedition for Captain Scott to use as a meteorological hut.

In 1912, it was brought back to Lyttelton and erected on Clifton Hill above Sumner in the garden of the expedition agent Sir Joseph Kinsey.

The hut then became home for Oriana Wilson, the wife of Captain Scott's right-hand man Dr Edward Wilson.

She lived there for a year until she received the news of her husband's death in February 1913.

For the past 40 years the hut has been under the care of the Crichton family in Sumner, who have now donated it to the Department of Conservation (DOC).

David Crichton said their property was red-zoned after the February earthquake, but they retained ownership of the hut.

However, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority warned him if there were further earthquakes the hut might be damaged beyond repair so he started looking at his options.

David Crichton and his wife, Valerie, decided to donate it to DOC to ensure it was preserved.

As it was lifted off the property this morning, the Crichtons felt a mixture of emotions.

Valerie Crichton said, "Seeing it lifted up and going to a new home is an uplifting experience within a difficult larger experience....it was part of our home for 40 years."

Minister of Conservation Nick Smith said it would have been a tragedy to have left the hut to be demolished.

"If those cabin walls could talk it could tell many a tale of Antarctic exploration and adventure as well as provide insight into the life of a woman who waited in vain for her husband's return from Scott's expedition."

DOC programme manager community relations Grant Campbell, who was in charge of the removal, said the hut will be placed on a temporary site at Godley Head while it was restored.

He hoped it would be on its permanent site along the Godley Head track by the end of the year.


Historic Antarctic shack aerial
CRUMBLING CLIFF: The historic hut sat on the crumbling Peacock's Gallop in Sumner's Kinsey Terrace.

The Press