Despair as historic kiln demolished

HISTORIC: The kiln was once part of Ward's Brewery, ​built in 1881.
HISTORIC: The kiln was once part of Ward's Brewery, ​built in 1881.

Heritage advocates have lost a battle to save a historic building that looked set to be restored.

Demolition began today on the brick kiln at the Crichton Cobbers Youth and Community Club site on the corner of Fitzgerald Ave and Chester St East.

The kiln, which was once part of Ward's Brewery, ​built in 1881​, narrowly escaped wrecking in the past after property owner​ Crichton Cobbers​ was persuaded to save it just days before it was due to come down.

SHOCKING DESTRUCTION: The kiln had "stood up like a beautiful jewel''.
SHOCKING DESTRUCTION: The kiln had "stood up like a beautiful jewel''.

Plans were developed to restore the building into a martial arts and wrestling centre as part of the redevelopment of ​the youth and community club.

Its demolition was a blow for the Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Buildings Fund, which had ''tried everything'' to help save the building, fund chairwoman Anna Crighton said.

She understood it was demolished to allow access to a neighbouring property.

Funding to restore the building was not an issue and the property owner also wanted to save it, she said.

''It's just destruction at its worst,'' Crighton said.

''It was one of the last remnants of that whole complex. When the other buildings around it were demolished, it stood up like a beautiful jewel.''

Crighton said it was sad there was still no heritage recovery plan in the city to prevent demolition.

It was still being formed and under consultation, she said.

''It's shocking ... heritage retention has been utterly woeful.''

She said there had been ''small victories'', such as the restoration of Ironside House, but they were ''few and far between''.

Architectural historian Kristina Pickford felt the building could have been spared had there been mediation and ''a little bit of goodwill''.

The demolition was ''inexcusable'', Pickford said.

''It was a heritage building which had both a financial and an engineering solution and one of the few still standing in a city now bereft of heritage.Its demolition should never have been permitted,'' she said.

The demolition was owner-managed, a Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority spokeswoman said.

The Press