Godley House to be demolished

Godley House in pristine pre-quake condition.
Godley House in pristine pre-quake condition.

The historic Godley House is damaged beyond repair and will be demolished.

The Christchurch City Council announced this morning that initial hopes of repairing the 1880 building following September earthquake damage were dashed by the severity of the February quake.

Two independent reports from structural engineers had now recommended the Diamond Harbour icon be demolished.

SHATTERED: Godley House in ruins after the two Canterbury earthquakes.
SCHWEDE66/Wikimedia
SHATTERED: Godley House in ruins after the two Canterbury earthquakes.

Council spokeswoman Kay Holder said the historic home had now "all but collapsed".

She said timing for the historic building's demolition had yet to be agreed.

However, engineering reports had confirmed the building was too unstable to enter and the area immediately surrounding it was cordoned off for public safety.

Godley House devastation taken on the Wednesday morning after Christchurch's worst earthquake.
Don Scott
Godley House devastation taken on the Wednesday morning after Christchurch's worst earthquake.

Lyttelton-Mt Herbert Community Board member and city councillor Claudia Reid said it was "almost unbearable" to contemplate Diamond Harbour without Godley House.

"They are part and parcel of each other.''

She said it was hoped that careful demolition of the building would allow some of its heritage details to be salvaged.

"This will serve as a reminder of the past and to educate, inform and entertain the community about aspects of its history and culture which have shaped the identity of the area."

She said there would be a chance for the public to be involved in the future development of the site.

Godley House in Diamond Harbour is registered as a Category II Historic Place by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.  

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the house had been a landmark in the community for over 130 years.

He said council would work with the local community to consider options for the site.

"Godley House has played a significant role in the social life of the Diamond Harbour community and for visitors to the house, most recently as a restaurant and accommodation.

"Future plans will see the site re-established as a strong, thriving and attractive community destination," he said.

Godley House was built as a family home by Harvey Hawkins - ship chandler, ironmonger and speculator, and one of Lyttelton's leading citizens.

The land the house is built on was bought from Mark Stoddart who lived with his family, in what is known as Stoddart's Cottage. This cottage is situated nearby behind the rugby grounds.

Renowned Canterbury painter Margaret Stoddart (daughter of Anna and Mark Stoddart) lived and painted in the house.

Several of her most significant paintings were of the house in its garden and harbour setting.

The Stoddart family lived in Godley House until 1913 when both houses were sold to the Lyttelton Borough Council.

The council then named it after the John Robert Godley, who came to New Zealand for two years as the Canterbury Association Agent and is known as the "founder" of the Canterbury settlement.

Godley never lived in the house.

The Press