Remedying a defect 130 years later

Photo taken 18 June 2011 by M.T.
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Bigger, stronger, comfier

Timaru Herald, 25 June 1878, Page 4
Courthouse — A new source of discomfort developed itself in our recently built Courthouse, yesterday. Want of accommodation, defective acoustic properties, and all other drawbacks in which it has been found to abound, turned out to be insignificant in point of discomfort to the current of air which swept down its chimney yesterday. No sooner was the fire made down than the body of the Courthouse became filled with smoke. Rendering the judge [B. Woollcombe, Esq., R.M.] scarcely perceptible, and ashes and soot began to fly around, till briefs and wigs became covered with them. The bailiff tried his best to remedy the irritating state of affairs by putting on more coals, but he only made things worse. Ultimately his Honor made an order that the fire should be removed, and, this having been complied with, the nuisance ceased. It is to be hoped that speedy steps will be taken for remedying this defect.

Timaru Herald, 8 June 1886, Page 2
At the Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday morning, the Resident Magistrate occupied the Bench. ...The Court then adjourned. On looking in to the Clerk's room at the Courthouse yesterday morning, we found the gas all alight, and on enquiry we learned that the clerk could not light a fire, a peculiarity of the chimney being that the fire "drew " the wrong way. In the summer time a good deal of money was spent on so-called improving the chimneys, as during the previous winter they had been a great nuisance, but the money thus spent seems to have been entirely thrown away. The chimneys like the acoustic properties of the courtroom are extremely defective in fact the whole courthouse is like the Irishman's gun — wants replacing by a new one.


Burton Bros. postcard. View of North St. showing from left Mechanics' Institute, Court House and Police Station, taken ca 1880s. ATL

Timaru Herald, 12 January 1877, Page 3
The Court House was to be not only a very commodious and serviceable building, but also a fairly sightly one; and it had the great and unusual merit of being suited to its position. It was to stand in the middle of the reserve, and to be surrounded by plantations. Thus one of the shabbiest and most unkempt plots of waste land in the Town, would have been pleasantly and advantageously utilised. Owing, however, to blunders which arose, as far as we can learn, solely through the utter inefficiency of the Colonial Architect; blunders which would have been effectually, and with great economy, avoided by the employment of local professional men, prolonged delays occurred. Finally, the specifications were so far amended that it was possible for the work to be achieved for the sum voted, and we waited with some impatience the calling for new tenders and the consequent commencement of the building. Presently the December sessions of the Supreme Court were held in Timaru; the weather, as is usual whenever Judge Johnston visits us, was most inclement; the miserable discomfort of previous sessions held in the Mechanics' Institute was renewed; and the Judge and Grand Jury once more combined to protest against the neglect of the Government in not erecting a decent building for the administration of Justice. We said nothing at the time, for we really had nothing to say which we had not said a dozen times before. It appeared to us to be "beating the air" to continue to point out what was already too obvious; or to endeavor to urge the performance of a plain duty on those who were evidently determined to neglect it. We wondered a little why the Minister and his subordinates were so supine; why they delayed the progress of a work for which the money was voted and the plans prepared; why they ran the risk of having indignant protests made next session, in lieu of the mild enquiries which were made last session. We wondered; but not very vigorously. We accounted for everything on the ordinary grounds of official incompetency and negligence. We took it for granted that the Minister of Public Works [Richardson] was absent from his duties, that the cat being away the mice were at play, and that the Colonial Architect had stuffed the plans of the Timaru Courthouse, with scores of others, perhaps, into a pigeon-hole, while he attended to his private practice which had suffered so grievously as long as those troublesome, inquisitive members were in Wellington. All this appeared so natural, so much a matter of course, that we hardly thought it worth while to make any further fuss about the Courthouse at present. We thought it better to leave things as they were until some specially favorable opportunity should occur for reverting to the subject or until the time should come for discussing local questions concerning which parliamentary action would he necessary. Now, however, Mr Under-Secretary Knowles' letter to the Government Agent present the whole business of the Supreme Court building in such a totally new light that we feel bound to make a few remarks upon it. The latest phase of this curious imbroglio is that the site fixed upon by the Government in June last — after many months of deep meditation and careful consideration: efedat Judӕus — has been rejected, and that whereon the tumble-down old Resident Magistrates' Court Offices still maintain a precarious existence, has been substituted for that at the corner of Grey-street. Now though we think the Grey-street site far more roomy and in all respects more suitable for the Supreme Courthouse; being nearer the gaol, and, though isolated from busy streets, yet situated in what is sure to be the middle of the town in a very few years ; we have not a word to say against the selection of the North street site. We should, however, like to have an answer to three plain questions regarding this matter. Firstly, who are the persons who have induced the Government to change their mind in respect of the Supreme Court site? Secondly, were their representations sufficiently weighty to justify a delay of at least a year in the commencement of the building? And, thirdly, why, why in the name of common sense, did not the Government obtain all the information which they now possess, and take the course which they now are taking, twelve or eighteen months ago?

Timaru Herald 17 March 1877pg1

Timaru Herald, 26 March 1878, Page 6 THE NEW COURTHOUSE.
We were permitted to inspect the new Courthouse on Saturday, March 2, and the impression it left on our and is that a more unsuitable structure for the business for which it is intended could not very well be erected. In the first place it is entirely too small for the rapidly increasing requirements of this town, and its internal arrangements are so ridiculously absurd that one finds a difficulty on first entering it, in bringing himself to realise that he is standing in a Court of Justice. The dimensions of the room in which it is intended to hold the Supreme, District, and Resident Magistrate's Courts is something like 50ft long by 25ft broad. About 8ft of this is occupied by the Judge's seat 6ft by the Registrar's seat, and about 12ft is to be taken up by the bar, so that the most space that at any time can be made available for the general public is a square of 25ft. Even this small space, in all probability, will have to be encroached upon to accommodate waiting jurymen. One of its most peculiar features is that the Judge's seat is at the end nearest North-street, and that the seat itself is so high up that the Judge cannot without difficulty see jurors in the jury box underneath. Of course no one could be so radical in his ideas as to desire that our excellent Judges should be kept on the same level with common humanity; but, on the other hand, to elevate them to a position from which they cannot communicate their thoughts to jurymen and others interested in the proceedings of the Court without considerable effort, is certainly an anomaly which needs being remedied. So far as we can learn, the Judges who usually preside over our courts, had a good deal to do with creating these absurdities. In all probability, if the room had been larger the judge's seat would not be too high, and perhaps it was in this respect that the error of judgment regarding its height occurred ; but certainly for the pokey little place the court is, the judgment-seat is altogether out of reach. Its height is 6ft, and the ascent to it is by a winding staircase at both sides of the bench. Underneath it, the Registrar's table occupies 6ft of space, which might be made as comfortable with 3ft. To the left is the jury-box, pushed up so close to the judge's seat that a part of it becomes invisible to him when he sits down. It consists of two benches 13ft by 3ft leaving to each juror a little more space than 2ft long by 3ft wide. It was the intention to have made the jury box much larger, but economy stopped m to prevent a waste of space, and, as its present length fitted m between two doors and shut up a fireplace, it was made so regardless of the comfort and convenience of jurymen. Doubtless they will be a well-packed jury when they get in the box. The Bar table not is yet made, but we were told that it would be twelve feet long. We were told also that the plan and estimated cost of making it had been forwarded to Wellington for approval some months ago, but that it was only last Thursday the order to make it was received. Such is red-tapeism. It takes months in Wellington to consider the making of a table. Where the Grand Jury will sit remains to be been, as at present no space seems available for them. The height of the building is 22ft from floor to ceiling and it is lit up by a lantern skylight, in which are six windows, opening on pivots, and which shows some elaborate workmanship. Behind the judge's seat-there are also three windows, another anomaly, and in the ceiling are two sun-lights, containing about 37 gas-jets. At both sides of the Courthouse are passages running through the whole building off which open doors into the other rooms. At either side there four rooms, each of which is 10ft 6in by 15ft. Two of these are intended for the Registrar, another for keeping the records of the Court, one for each of the judges, one for the Resident Magistrate, one for the bar, and one for the jury. They are all provided with fireplaces, and ornamental chandeliers, and so far as workmanship is concerned appear to be well and faithfully done. We do not attach any blame to the contractor (Mr Thornton) in regard to the unsuitability of the building for a Courthouse, as, so far as we could see he has done his duty very satisfactorily, and the worship on the whole appears substantial and well-finished. The blame rests with the designer of it, and more especially with those who afterwards altered his plan, but no doubt it will be found before long the place will not suit, and then another Courthouse will have to be built at the public expense.


This heritage building is owned by Department of Justice. Justice has been carried out on this site for 134 years - photo taken 3 May 2008 

Timaru Herald, 4 March 1878, Page 3
District Court. — The criminal session of the District Court, before his Honor Judge Ward, will open this morning in the new Courthouse. There are four larceny, one assault, and one perjury case set down for hearing, and it is anticipated the Court will be fully four days in disposing of them.

Timaru Herald, 2 July 1890, Page 2
A remarkable example of economy was seen at the courthouse yesterday. The day being cold the gas lights on the Magistrate's and clerk's desks were lit, to warm the room. Then, as if to counterbalance the expenditure on heating, as the gas gave also light, the blinds of the windows wore drawn down — to save on daylight.

The new Timaru High Court & District Court
12 - 14 North Street

The Ministry of Justice new $9.5 million courthouse complex incorporated parts of the original 130-year-old courthouse with a modern contemporary addition. Construction started in early 2008. Stage one was the construction of a new 2000 square metre courtroom complex to the rear of the existing courthouse, including two courtrooms, two mediation rooms and associated administrative and public spaces.  One court was designed specifically for jury trials, with jury retirement rooms.  Stage two was the renovation to provide administration offices and staff facilities and earthquake strengthening of the original courthouse constructed in 1877. Modern additions at the front of the building, the North Street entrance, were demolished to reveal the exterior of the original court building. The new courthouse complex addressed issues of security, while providing areas for the public. Access to the building is available from both North and Heaton streets.

5 March 2010 At the opening the Courts Minister Mrs Georgina te Heuheu, QSO, said the new courthouse was “a stunning marriage between the old and new”. “The splendour of the original Timaru Courthouse, which was built in 1877, has not only been retained but has also been skilfully enhanced by the contemporary architecture.” Minister te Heuheu said as Timaru’s community had gown, so too had the demands on its civic structures. “The new structure features enhanced courtrooms, mediation rooms, custodial and interview rooms, and administrative and public spaces that serve the demands of a 21st century courthouse.” The courthouse also featured enhanced security facilities. She was pleased to be able to open the new courthouse which is a building Timaru can be proud of, and one she believes will continue to stand the test of time. "Modern, fully functioning courts are at the heart of our justice system. The opening of this courthouse today reflects the National Government's desire to deliver safer, secure communities for all New Zealanders." She was joined by guest speakers Justice Fogarty – who formally closed the old courtroom last year – and district court judge Phil Moran, who apologised for Chief District Court Judge Russell Johnson's absence. The chief district court judge is responsible for determining how and where judges sit. Justice Fogarty, representing the High Court, said the new courthouse would benefit the community. "This building is a daily reminder the blocks of community, law and justice are at the heart of civilised society. The two modern courtrooms would make it easier for High Court judges to conduct hearings without disturbing proceedings in the District Court, he said. Additionally, Environment Court appeals which went to the High Court and had been conducted out of town could come back to Timaru. Ministry of Justice property, strategy and services director David Stevenson said the building had a category II heritage listing, and old court buildings like Timaru's formed part of New Zealand's history and helped provide a strong sense of national identity.

After years of lobbying by civic leaders Chief District Court Judge Russell Johnson announced the appointment of Judge Joanna Maze to the re-established Timaru position of a resident judge, from July 1 2011. Judge Maze practised law in Nelson before becoming a judge in 2001 and she was based in Hamilton, but said she had a connection to South Canterbury through her husband, Julian Maze, whose family hailed from Timaru and Pleasant Point. Timaru's judge Judge Edward Ryan was Timaru's last resident district court judge. When he moved to Christchurch in 2001, then Chief District Court Judge Ronald Young decided not to replace him, and said Timaru's judicial needs would be provided from Christchurch.

Timaru Herald 21/10/2011
Opus Architecture had designed a courthouse that embraced sustainability from active features, such as water-saving technology and the salvaging of waste heat from the HVAC system, to more passive technologies, such as the re-use of the heritage courthouse and the lanterns allowing natural light to infiltrate the new courtrooms.

Timaru Herald High Court sits for last time in old building
08/04/2009 Court is adjourned.
The High Court sat for the last time in Timaru's old courthouse yesterday, as preparations are made to move into a new building. The special sitting was marked by the now-rare donning of wigs and gowns, the presence of four judges on the bench, and lawyers, JPs, registrars past and present, and court staff filling the body of the courtroom and the public gallery. Crown prosecutor Craig O'Connor, as president of the South Canterbury Law Society, said the courtroom had been the focal point for the administration of justice in the central South Island since 1877. Mr O'Connor said that though the building had reached the end of its lifespan in terms of dealing with modern requirements, it was pleasing that it was to be retained. "[Those involved] are to be congratulated for ensuring the tradition and history associated with this building is not lost to future generations." While it would be easy to focus on the more famous or notorious hearings, Mr O'Connor said the High Court and its predecessors had covered a range of matters over the years. "A wide cross-section of our community have passed through the doors of this high court." Mr O'Connor paid tribute to the father and son sitting in the front row: former crown solicitor Michael Gresson and his son, current crown solicitor Tim Gresson. "Between them they have sat on the front bench of this court for at least six decades. I think that is a remarkable achievement which is worthy of recognition." Tim Gresson said that for many in the room, the formal closure of the court brought to an end several decades of what was essentially their place of work. A defence lawyer used to refer to his courtroom work as "simply toiling away at the coalface". Mr Gresson said one of the three Timaru cases that had finally been decided by the Privy Council had not even been heard in the main courtroom that room was occupied by other litigation, so the hearing was held in the old council chambers in George St instead. He said it was appropriate to close the court with some form of ceremony, and thanked Justice Fogarty for agreeing to formally close the courtroom. Judge John Strettell said that while the day marked the High Court closing, the courtroom was the place where the district court sat, and that was where most people came to see justice in action. "I take this opportunity to recognise the efforts of the district court judges who have presided here and resided here." Justice Fogarty said that though the new courtrooms were about to come into service, it was fitting that the existing building would remain. "And when the prefab extensions are removed, the citizens of Timaru will look up at a building which is obviously a courthouse. Lawyers and judges know that the law only works for the community because most of the community obeys the law, and traditionally, a courthouse had been built as a statement of the importance of the law."

Justice John Fogarty himself a former St Patrick's High School, Timaru old boy advice for new solicitors is always retain their professionalism, composure and remain cool and calm even while under pressure.

16/03/2011 Timaru's one-year-old courthouse is about to become a lot busier, with Christchurch jury trials being transferred to Timaru in the wake of the February earthquake. The Timaru courthouse has two courtrooms, one of which is designed for jury trials. It also has two jury rooms, meaning a second jury trial can get under way while the first jury is still deliberating. South Canterbury people will be summonsed to serve on juries hearing the Christchurch cases as jurors must be selected from within a 45-kilometre radius of the court [and be between 20 and 65].



The Timaru Herald gave the courthouse a harsh review 134 years ago

Parliamentary debates: Volume 53 - Page 513 1865
Mr. TURNBULL asked if, in the sum put down for courthouses, provision was made for improvements to the courthouse at Timaru. The Premier knew the urgent necessity for making some alterations to that courthouse, and he believed that when the honourable gentleman was at Timaru he had promised that the matter should be attended to. Some small alterations had been made, but a great deal more was needed, and he wanted to know if anything further was to be done.

Timaru Herald, 19 January 1876, Page 3
Why do not the Government build a Supreme Court House at Timaru? The money is voted for the purpose, and demand after demand, has been made by Judge, Grand Jury, Press, and public, for the work to be proceeded with; but, yet nothing, is done. Month after month passes away; session after session of the Supreme Court and the District Court is held in the tumble-down, leaky shanty known as the Mechanics' Institute; but no step whatever is taken towards providing any better accommodation for the administration of justice. We believe there are two reasons, for this delay. One is the natural dilatoriness of public departments, and the other is the difference of opinion which exists as to the most suitable, site for the Court House, several propositions having been put forward in the matter by more or less, competent authorities;

Timaru Herald, 29 December 1877, Page 3
The late Colonial Architect was not famous, poor fellow, for designing very convenient or appropriate buildings, and the new Court-house at Timaru is not a very favorable specimen of his handiwork. It has, indeed, been an unfortunate piece of business from the beginning. It took, if we remember rightly, three presentments of the Grand Jury, several very candid articles in our own columns, more than one representation from the local authorities, and sundry vigorous efforts on the part of the members from the district, to get the Government to move in the matter at all. At length, after a multiplicity of delays, a site was chosen, a design was elaborated, and tenders were called for. This looked hopeful at the time, but nothing came of it. The site was changed, the design was abandoned, and the tenders were rejected. That design was a most extraordinary one. The prisoners were to be brought into the Court by an underground passage leading from the lock-up, and were to pop up into the dock almost precisely after the manner of a Jack-in-the-box. There were a variety of other peculiar features, too, about that design which somewhat interfered with its practicability. One was that, if built in stone, according to the first specification, it would have cost four or five times the estimated amount, and would have occupied several years in construction. Another drawback was that if a second specification, providing for the partial use of concrete, had been followed, the Court-house could not have been built at all, the principle of gravity not having received consideration. These are mere details, however, which might have been satisfactorily arranged by a little mutual concession by both architect and contractors. The radical defect in the design was the manner in which it was proposed to light the body of the building, where the Courts of Justice were to sit. There are three ways known to science of admitting light to large buildings, namely, from the ends, from the sides, and from the top. Modern prejudice is somewhat in favor of the last, but the Colonial Architect was singularly free from modern prejudices of all kinds. Thus, he built the Government buildings at Wellington with a hundred and fifty fire-places in them, as if hot-air-pipes had never been invented. In the matter of lighting, he had a penchant for large, staring windows at one end of a room, and that the end opposite to those who have to use the light. Such was his design for the Timaru Courthouse. Judge Ward, however, observing this, and having some lingering regard for his eye-sight, protested against it with his habitual frankness. The Government listened to his complaint, and referred it to the Architect. That functionary maintained that the proposed Courthouse as designed would be so amply and beautifully lit that the Judge could not fail to see all the points of the most intricate case m a jiffy. Having regard, though, for the weakness and perversity of human nature generally, and Judge Ward in particular, he consented to put m a second set of glaring windows at the other end of the Temple of Justice, and this was done on the plan. As we have seen, that plan was never carried out. The North-street site having been subsequently decided upon m preference to the Grey-street site, a new plan was devised to suit it, and m course of time the Courthouse was actually built. Strange to say, the very same defect as to lighting re-appeared, as had been originally designed in the first plan. There is, indeed, a kind of lantern on the top of the Chamber, but it seems to have been designed with a view of excluding the light rather than of admitting it. What it was really intended for, we confess we are puzzled to divine, but we have, a suspicion that it was intended in some vague kind of way to illuminate the room by means of hidden gas jets. Certain it is that no daylight worth speaking of can struggle through it, and that the Court practically derives all its light from the long windows m the north end. Now, as the Bench is arranged to be at the south end, it is manifest that, while the Judges would be half dazed by staring at those ghastly casements, their notes, books and papers, would be, as far as they were concerned, in Cimmerian darkness. The very personages, in short, who most of all need to see plainly, would be the only ones in the Court who could not see at all. Unfortunately Judge Ward was not aware of this ingenious proceeding until it was completed. Then, however, he made the most determined remonstrance against being blinded in the flower of his youth and beauty. We believe there is no truth m the report that the Minister replied that from time immemorial Justice has been blind, or that the Judge] retorted that that was before lawyers were allowed to tilt the scales. The result of his remonstrance was that the contractors were instructed to pierce windows in the southern end of the Court-house, similar to those in the north end, and that they actually did break out a huge irregular mass of concrete wall. At this point the Clerk of Works interfered, just in time to prevent the whole establishment from coming to smash, and the hole was filled up again as quickly as possible, to the dire disfigurement of the otherwise sightly chamber. The question now is what is to be done next? There seems, to be nothing for it but to reverse all the proposed arrangements for internal fittings, and to place the platform or bench under the windows at the north end, and the, "dear, delightful public" at the other end. Is it not marvellous, though, that Government buildings are always made a mess of?

Timaru Herald,  3 April 1878, Page 4
Resident Magistrate's Court,  Timaru — Tuesday, April 2. (Before B. Woollcombe, Esq., R.M.) His Worship took his seat in a side room in the new Courthouse at 11.30 am. Before the business of the Court commenced, Captain Sutter, who was present, asked his Worship if he would take notice of the inconvenience the public and the Court itself were being put to, in there not being proper accommodation afforded to the Resident Magistrate's Court, und those concerned therein, through then- being only one hall in which the judicial business of the of district could be proceeded with. His Worship said that, as the present arrangements were, when the District Court sat he could only, as at present, situated, hear minor cases, such as those against drunkards. The business of the Court was then proceeded with.

Timaru Herald, 26 December 1878, Page 2
We are glad that Judge Johnston has drawn attention in a decided manner to the deficient accommodation at the Courthouse, and has suggested a practical method of remedying it. The Grand Jury, no doubt, did right to make a presentment in support of the Judge's remarks, but we do not attach much importance to that proceeding. We have often wondered, indeed, what becomes of the presentments of Grand Juries. They are forwarded, we suppose, by the Judge to the Minister of Justice ; but what then? Has there ever been an instance in which anything came of the presentment of a Grand Jury? We never heard of one, certainly. We fancy there must be in some out of the way corner of the office of Justice, a very deep, dark, and particularly dusty shelf, where all these documents are placed as soon as they are received, and allowed to repose in layers, never to be "acted on," except by moths, mice, or mildew. We do not think there has been a single session of the Supreme Court at Timaru, when the Grand Jury have not made a presentment concerning the want of proper accommodation; but the Government have never taken the slightest notice of any one of these urgent and solemn appeals. We believe that the public are indebted for the present Courthouse, such as it is, to a hammer-and-tongs "Note" which appeared in this paper when the Court was held in the old Mechanics' Institute, describing in very plain English, and with uncompromising frankness, the manner in which the highest Court of Justice in New Zealand, was treated by the Government. The vicious little article gave offence at the time, as such home thrusts are always liable to do ; but it gained its object, nevertheless, by bringing the necessity for Courthouse accommodation at Timaru, into prominent notice. Of course the Government gave way as ungraciously as possible; of course they screwed down the money for the building to the lowest possible sum; and of course they made as great a mess of the work as they possibly could. If the whole history of the Timaru Courthouse were written, it would, indeed, be an extraordinary record of wasteful stinginess, fussy dilatoriness, and pretentious incompetency. After all the delay and confusion, and alteration of plans, and additional grants, the thing, when completed, is about the very worst public building in New Zealand; and when we have said that, we have said as severe a thing about it as we can think of. It is perfectly useless for the Supreme Court; it is quite unsuitable for the District Court; and it is not at all adapted for the Resident Magistrate's Court. It is very hard to say, indeed, what it is fit for, or whether it is fit for anything. With some considerable alteration, it might be turned into an inferior kind of horse-repository ; or if it were weather-proof, and had a decent sized entrance, it might be made to answer indifferently as a grain store. If it could only be burnt or knocked down it would not be so bad ; but, unfortunately, its concrete solidity is equal to its hideousness or its uselessness. It cannot be turned to profit, and it cannot be destroyed. There is only one chance for it, and that is to be converted into a swimming bath and washhouse, when the water works are finished. A courthouse it certainly cannot remain much longer. Judge Johnstone has distinctly shown that nothing can possibly adapt it to that purpose, and that the only thing to be done is to build a new courthouse in a totally different style and on a totally different plan. The present building was designed by the late Colonial Architect, Mr W. H. Clayton. He is dead, though, and we have not a word to say against him. Against his office, though, we have a great deal to say. It was first established eleven years ago by Mr Stafford, in order that Government, who were then putting up Government house, and a number of other buildings in Wellington, might have some professional man to supervise them all, instead of being, as they had previously been, in the hands of a number of jobbing tradesmen, amateurs, and so forth. It was never intended then that the Colonial Architect should have the designing and controlling of all the public buildings in the colony. That was an ingenious conception of Sir Julius Vogel, who saw his way thus to; put Mr Clayton — who was paid by commission into an extraordinarily lucrative position. The money-part of the arrangement was put a stop to by the House as soon as they saw what it meant, but the other part of it remained in operation, to the great detriment and disfigurement of a number of unoffending country places. All public buildings of all descriptions were thenceforward cut pretty well on one block, so to speak; the same pattern being used, with slight external variations, over and over and over again, without the smallest regard to the purpose of any particular building, the surrounding circumstances, the architectural features of the neighborhood, the material in vogue there, or any other consideration whatever. The consequence was that local contractors were fairly flabbergasted by the astounding specifications that they had to tender by; and the Government paid half as much again as they need have paid for their buildings and got nothing but buildings which would have been dear at any price. We venture to say that there is not another country in the world, where so much money has been expended in the attainment of ugliness and inconvenience. What was saved in architects' commission was lost a hundred times over in other ways. The fact is that no man, unless he had unlimited time, means and assistance, besides great versatility of genius, could satisfactorily design all the public buildings of a country so variously circumstanced as New Zealand is. Local architects must be the best judges of the requirements of each place, of the materials to be used, and the manner of adapting them, and of the capabilities of the trades. Local architects for example, would never fall into the error which the Colonial Architect almost always fell into, of making his buildings proportionate in dimensions and accommodation to the reputed size of the towns where they were to be built; as if in a small town, there must necessarily be a small Judge, and a pigmy Registrar, and a dwarf Grand Jury, and a literally petit jury, and prisoners and police and witnesses and public, all created on a corresponding scale of smallness. They would, on the contrary, for their own reputation and the credit of the place they live in, be sure to design buildings at least adequate in size to all legitimate requirements ; and in most cases they might be depended on to look a little ahead, and consider how their designs would suit an advanced stage of progress. They would, in fact, be in a measure amenable to public opinion; whereas a Colonial Architect neither knows nor cares whether his productions give satisfaction or not, except, in the case of a few very important, central ones. We hope that steps will be immediately taken to bring before the Government the question of building a new Courthouse at Timaru, from designs by a local architect, and that they will be strenuously followed up by the members for the district.

Timaru Herald, 31 October 1878, Page 2
In this (Wednesday) morning's issue of the Timaru Herald, the proceedings in the Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday, re assault case, are wrongly reported. The correct statement is this: Henry Maynard was the prosecutor, and William Burgess and Thomas Mills were defendants. The case was not adjourned, but on my pressing the application for withdrawal, it was allowed to be withdrawn, the police to do as they liked in the matter. By your kindly correcting the mistake, &c, you will oblige." Such errors as this are not due to any fault of our reporter's, but to the bad acoustic properties of the Courthouse. It is almost a matter of impossibility for anyone not close alongside the lawyers' table to hear what is said by the Bench or Bar.

Timaru Herald, 18 August 1882, Page 2
Magisterial — There was a clean sheet at the Timaru Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday morning, and there promises to be little to do this morning, as up to midnight last night there was only one occupant of the police cells. 

Amusing

Timaru Herald, 24 April 1879, Page 2
A Scene in Court. —A most amusing incident occurred yesterday in the Resident Magistrate's Court. Everything was going on in the ordinary way until the stentorian voice of Mounted-Constable McCarthy was heard above the milder utterances of lawyers and witnesses, calling upon some one to take off his hat. All eyes were at once turned m the direction that the constable was observed to address his peremptory orders, and a man was seen entering the Court through the Magistrate's private door. As soon as he had complied with the constable's orders, he turned round and walked quietly up the steps that lead to the Bench where the Magistrate was sitting. For a moment the constable appeared undecided how to act. He evidently thought that the man must be a Justice of the Peace, and that he had come to take his seat on the Bench. His indecision, however, was soon removed. The man, in ascending the steps, staggered, and it then became apparent to the vigilant constable that the man was under the influence of drink, and that he had no right on the Bench. The constable, on realising this fact, rushed across the Court, and reached the man just in time to lay hold of his coat tail as he was turning to accost the Magistrate, after having ascended the steps. One of the serenest and happiest smiles that was ever seen on a human countenance spread over the sunburnt features of that, man as lie turned round and found his coattail in the firm grasp of the constable. He offered no resistance, but retraced his steps down again, and turned to sit beside the Clerk of  the Court. He was also removed from that place and subsequently brought before the Court, when with a smile that bespoke a mind free from any trace of care, and in a stale of perfect happiness, he told the Bench that he was the first constable appointed m Canterbury; that he had occupied the position of bailiff in the Christchurch Court, and that he meant no offence to His Honor. This statement, we believe, is a fact. He filled these positions creditably until he took to drink, and lost them. He was then removed to the lock-up, but when ho got sober later in the afternoon, was dismissed with a caution.

Waikato Times, 14 June 1877, Page 2
The kindly and yet considerate intimation as conveyed in the following advertisement, clipped from a Timaru paper, we should imagine was duly appreciated by those to whom it was addressed. The idea is certainly original, and the advertisers deserve immortalizing; Notice. We shall be happy to meet all our friends whose accounts are over three months standing at the next sitting of the Court, Geraldine - Taylor and Flatman. N.B. Luncheon provided for those who settle out of Court.

Timaru Herald, 2 July 1884, Page 2
A Curious Blunder. A merry laugh was occasioned in the R.M. Court yesterday by a curious confusion of thought on the part of one of the lawyers engaged. A man was charged with depositing rubbish on the beach below high water mark. After the evidence in support of the charge had been given, his counsel triumphantly claimed a dismissal of the case, because all the witnesses had sworn that the high water mark was above where the rubbish was put.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

notes.gif (1306 bytes) The Legal System in 1970s -1980s
        The High Court (then the Supreme Court) was first created in 1841. The High Court travels on a circuit which includes Timaru.
        District Courts are established as separate entities in various localities, unlike High Court, which is one court in NZ. Judges are appointed by the Governor General. He also appoints the Chief District Court Judge who oversees the administration of the courts. A number of District Judges are warranted to provide over jury trails of criminal cases.
       Justice of the Peace can sit as a District Court Judge to hear a limited number of minor criminal and traffic charges which, if proven, attracts a maximum fine of $500.

In 1858 both the Courts of Requests and Courts of Petty Sessions were abolished by the District Courts Act. The same Act established the district courts, at a middle level between the resident magistrates’ courts and the Supreme Court. The district courts were given a relatively wide range of responsibility. However, their role overlapped both with that of the Supreme Court and the resident magistrates’ courts and they gradually ceased to function. The final district courts were abolished in 1909. At the same time as district courts were fading out of the picture, the resident magistrates’ courts were playing an ever-larger role. In 1893 they became known simply as the magistrates’ courts and their responsibility and authority was extended. The magistrates’ courts became increasingly important and pressure grew to improve the status of the magistrates and the court. On the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Courts (1978), the magistrates’ courts were in 1980 renamed the district courts – as they remain today – and were given extended jurisdiction. Stipendiary magistrates became district court judges.

Timaru Herald, 2 April 1877, Page 7
As long as the Government persist m a course of false economy by thrusting a multitude of different duties, totally at variance with one another, on the same official, the public must suffer in a more or lass degree. As a case m point we have that of the Resident Magistrate in Timaru. This gentleman, besides the duties connected with the Court at Timaru, has to hold fortnightly Courts at Waimate and Temuka, and monthly ones at Geraldine. He is expected to hold inquests when necessary at any place between the Rangitata and the Waitaki; or between Mount Cook and the sea. He is a Judge of the Assessment Court for the whole of South Canterbury; and holds, we believe, other minor offices. Considering that there is quite sufficient work m the Resident Magistrate's Court at Timaru alone to keep one person fully employed, some idea may be formed of the tax there is upon that person's time when all the other duties enumerated above have to be performed by him. On several occasions of late, through the absence of the Resident Magistrate on other official business, that of the Court at Timaru, has suffered most disgracefully. Prisoners accused of trifling offences have been kept waiting for hours because there was no one to sit on the Bench ; while in one instance, we believe, the Inspector of Police after waiting all day in hopes of a magistrate turning up, released several inebriates in their own recognisances to appear attain. The Justices of the Peace in Timaru sacrifice a great deal of their time to remedy the evil as far as possible, but it is outrageous to expect them to attend the Court day after day, to the detriment of their private business. In making these remarks we are not finding fault with the Resident Magistrate personally. No one could work harder or more energetically than he does, and no one could be more universally respected by all classes as a public officer ; but it is utterly impossible for him or anyone else to fulfil all the duties imposed upon him satisfactorily, or without causing inconvenience to the public in some shape or form. If the Government, instead of spending money in providing the means of sustenance for a crew of worthless hangers on in Wellington, were to utilise it in placing officers where they are urgently wanted, it would be much more creditable to themselves, and beneficial to the colony at large.

Ex District Judge Ward

Southland Times 19 October 1877, Page 3
Timaru, Thursday. Judge Ward Threatens an Action for libel. The South Canterbury Times states that Judge Ward threatens the proprietor with an action for libel for an article on the 12th September reflecting upon Judge Ward in connection with certain evidence relating to the Stamp Act that came out in the Waka Maori case. Judge Ward requires L100 to be paid to the Timaru Hospital, and an apology in the paper. The Times refuses to apologise.

Timaru Herald, 29 October 1885, Page 2
Judge Ward.—At Hawera the other day Mrs Ward stated at a temperance meeting that "her husband (Judge Ward) travelled from Christchurch to Invercargill, taking in the Otago goldfields, and often did eight hundred miles in a week without any stimulant. In fact, he did the work of three judges for the pay of one (a laugh), and he drank nothing but water. He was now a better and stronger man than ever he had been."

Dudley Ward married 26 January 1850, at Rotherhithe, to Anne Titboald, who was born in Exeter. Together, after his admission to the bar, they set out for New Zealand, arriving 29 September 1854 in Wellington on the Cordelia. The following year, he successfully stood for election to the lower house of the 2nd New Zealand Parliament representing the Wellington Country electorate from 15 November 1855. Ward resigned on 22 March 1858 before the end of the term. The remainder of his career was appointments as District Judge for a series of individual provinces until, after more than 49 years service, his retirement in March 1906, aged almost 79, on a pension of £800 per annum.

Evening Post, 1 September 1913, Page 8
The death is announced, from Dunedin of Mr. Charles Dudley Ward, for many years a District Court Judge, and for several terms an Acting-Supreme Court Judge, aged 86. The deceased, who was noticeable wherever he went on account of his great stature (he was one of the tallest and heaviest men in New Zealand), was the eldest son of the late Sir Henry George Ward, G.C.M.G , of Gilston Park, Hertfordshire, England, Governor of Madras, and was educated at Rugby and at Wadham College, Oxford. After studying law at the Inner Temple he was called to the Bar in 1853, and arrived in New Zealand on 30th September of the following year. In 1855 he was elected to the House of Representatives as a member of the Wellington county district, and on 1st June, 1857, he was appointed Chairman of the Courts of Session of the Peace for the province of Wellington, and presiding Judge of the Magistrate's Courts for Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, and Wanganui. On 1st January, 1864, he became Resident Magistrate at Wellington, and two years later he was made District Judge for Wellington, Wanganui, Marlborough, and Hawkes Bay. In September, 1867, he was appointed Acting-Supreme Court Judge at Dunedin, and less than two years after that he took up the duties of District Court Judge for Westland, Southland, and Otago. In 1886 he was an Acting-Supreme Court Judge at Auckland, and he performed similar duties at Christchurch in 1887, and at Dunedin in 1894. In June, 1896, he declined a permanent appointment to the Supreme Court Bench, and in the following year he was unable to see his way to again become an Acting Judge of that Court. Mrs. Ward, to whom he was married in 1851, died in May, 1896. Frances Ellen Talbot married Charles Dudley Robert Ward in 1902.
The interment of the ex- Judge is to be made in Christchurch. [Judge Ward died in 1913 in his Maori Hill Dunedin home, “The Rest” but is buried in Burwood Cemetery, Christchurch alongside his first wife.]

Evening Post, 27 February 1914, Page 3
Close on the announcement of the granting of probate of the English estate of the late District Judge C. D. R. Ward, the sale of the Plomer-Ward silver plate, of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, is announced. The collection commenced in 1620, when the Merchant Taylors' Guild presented to Plomer some pieces of James I. silvergilt plate. Jane Plomer, in 1828, married Robert Ward, [(1765-1846), novelist and politician] of Gilston Park, Herts, who was a member of Canning's Government and was afterwards Leader of the Opposition to Cobden's policy in the Commons. His son, [Henry George Ward], who was afterwards Governor of Madras, was the father of Judge Ward, to whom the plate passed on his death in 1863. For the past fifty years it has been stored in New Zealand, and it passed, on Judge Ward's death, to Captain H. C. S Ward, of the 2nd Lancers. (Indian Army), who is the sole male survivor of this branch of the family. [Sold in March 1914. But on the death of Judge Ward last August it came back to his nephew, Captain Ward, with whom the entail was broken, and who wasted very little time in turning the plate into a more liquid form, of asset. cup]

Timaru Herald, 18 November 1898, Page 3 The Gazette
The following appointments are gazetted:— District Judge Ward, Chairman of the South Island Railway Board of Appeal

The New Zealand Jurist Reports 1876

District Court - His Honour Charles Dudley Robert Ward (Timaru and Invercargill Districts)

Barristers and Solicitors	Date of Admission 	Where practising
Hamersley, Alfred St. George 	Sept. 11 1874 		Timaru
Perry, Arthur 			Feb. 3 1871		Timaru
Perry, Cecil Thomas Henry 	Dec. 9 1867 		Timaru
Ormsby, Arthur 			March 13 1874 		Timaru
White, John William 		(Crown Prosecutor) 	Timaru

C Lund and Son

Christian Valdermar Lund (Walter) Walter was born in Copenhagen in 1854 and landed at Napier in 1875 and moved to Canterbury. In 1878 Emma Croose married Christian Waldemar Lund. He went into business as a carpenter and bridge builder around Pleasant Point. His son Charles (born 1888) entered the building trade and served an apprenticeship in Pleasant Point and moved to Timaru, where he went into business on his own. Charles went into business on his own as Charles Lund - builder.  His only son Ray entered the family business. Charles died in 1943 and eventually Ray re-formed it as it is known today, C Lund and Son Ltd. After Ray's retirement his son Bruce Lund continued in construction and in 1993 Bruce's daughter Joanne and her husband, Andrew Macgregor, joined the business so C Lund and Son is more than 50 years old. They now have a large operation in Christchurch. The construction company carries out concrete construction, building, carpentry and joinery work. Significant projects worked on in Timaru over the past three years include: Craighead Diocesan School auditorium, Harvey Norman Timaru warehouse extension, Timaru Girls' High School technology block, Briscoes extension, Bidwill Hospital basement fit-out, Bluestone School redevelopment, Timaru District Council facade retention and refurbished office building and in 2009 the Timaru courthouse. They successfully completed many projects throughout the South Island including the new DB Breweries plant in Timaru and Timaru Hospital Clinical Services Building. 21 March 2009 Timaru Herald History

Lunds, Dec. 2009. Google Maps.

White Gloves

Poverty Bay Herald, 6 September 1904, Page 2
Timaru, this day. A sitting of the Supreme Court opened here this morning, before Judge Denniston, when the unique position for Timaru was disclosed, there being not a single criminal case to deal with. Following the time-honored custom, the sheriff presented his Honor with a pair of white silk gloves as an emblem of the purity of the district, as shown by the absence of criminal cases. His Honor fitting acknowledged the gift, and congratulated the district on the freedom from crime.

James Hay

Press, 2 December 1911, Page 15 IN MEMORIAM
JAMES HAY, OF TIMARU. (By Professor J. Macmillan Brown LL.D.)
Alas! How the little band of Canterbury College pioneers is vanishing! One of the foremost has gone to his rest. There was no student of the early years of the University to versatile so rapid in acquisition, so easy in assimilating knowledge and ideas, as James Hay of Timaru. My first session (1875) spent in efforts to build up classical scholarship in the new college, had been somewhat disheartening. For all the students were busy at their daily work, teachers or clerks or young men struggling to make a living, and at the same time forge their way on to a profession. I had to start elementary classes in Latin and Greek. And yet some of these hard-worked searchers after know ledge, like Dr. Fitchett, Mr T. S. Foster, the Chief Inspector of Canterbury schools, and the late Mrs Foster, were as brilliant and enthusiastic students of classics as one could wish. The pity was that it was only after a day's hard work that they could indulge their passion for learning. But in 1876 this was changed and there came from Christ's College Grammar School three junior scholars, John Innes, now Dr. Innes, of Blenheim High School; Herbert Williams, now Archdeacon of Waiapu; and the late James Hay, well grounded in Latin, and with all their time at their disposal. Only one joined my small Honours Greek class. Mr Hay said he had but a smattering of the language and abandoned it, devoting himself to the course that would suit the legal career that he contemplated.

In Latin he held his own with the best. Dr. Fitchett and he took Senior Scholarships in Latin at the end of their second year. But in the following year the Senate offered two Senior Scholarships in Greek. There was no one in my Greek class qualified, to enter for them but Dr. Fitchett, and his Greek had been picked up since he had gone to college. But I persuaded Mr Hay to join the Greek classes in 1878, though he said that he had forgotten the little of the language that he had known. His progress was, as in all other subjects, most striking. In the honours class we read at sight a book or play or more of most of the classical Greek authors. Yet he never seemed fatigued with the effort of keeping up with the class. It was his easy mastery of everything, however unfamiliar, that astonished everyone. And at the close of the year Mr. Fitehett and he gained the two senior scholarships in Greek. The incident impressed us all with his great intellectual capacity. We felt that he was capable of success in any sphere he liked to choose. He was only eighteen years of age, and, had he preferred to go to an English university, he would, we were sure, have made his mark.

But there was a measured and farseeing deliberation in all his actions. He calculated all chances and never let his imagination or the plaudits of his fellows run away with his judgment. He adhered to his original purpose in coming to the college, doubtless guided by his strong attachment to his home in Timaru. His father was getting old, and he was the only son, and felt it his duty to do his best for those who were nearest to him. Entering the late Mr Joynt's office, he continued his college course and took double first-class honours in Latin and in Political Science, the first of the long list of double first-class honours men from Canterbury College. Such a close to his University career we seemed to think quite natural to a student of such brilliant parts and easy mastery of whatever he attempted.

When he had been, admitted to the Bar we were proud of his successful defence of one of the accused in a famous poisoning case, and we all anticipated for him a brilliant career as a barrister, and, perhaps, in Parliament, as he had had as a university student. But with the same quiet resolve he put aside such ambitions, and settled in Timaru as a solicitor, in order to be by his father and his relatives. And there he passed the rest, of his life.

Some few years after Convocation elected him a Fellow of the University Senate, and for nearly a quarter of a century he has discharged the duties of the position with the conscientiousness, the honesty of purpose, and the impartiality of judgment, that have ever distinguished him. He was somewhat hesitant at times in his speeches in the Senate's debates; but this was more from a desire to express himself exactly and judicially, than from a lack of words or ideas. He always gained an attentive, if not eager, hearing, because of his keen common-sense, his wide knowledge of university matters and his straightforward and unbiassed opinions. His death causes a great loss to that body, such a long experience had he had of the working of the regulations, so businesslike was he in his management of the committee work, and so lucid and rational in his judgments on all the difficult questions that came before it. And we who have known him so long mourn over the loss of a true and loyal friend, whose head was always clear, and whose heart was ever with what was just and kindly and of good report.

Thomas Howley

Timaru Herald, 25 June 1917, Page 2 THOMAS HOWLEY.
The death is announced this morning of Mr Thomas Howley, a gentleman who for many years, commencing about 1870 was Clerk of Court, Registrar of Electors, and Returning Officer for Timaru, performing also several other related duties. He was therefore widely known, and was a very popular man on account of his geniality and humour. He resigned his offices a few years after the turn of the century and visited the Old Country remaining there till 1911 when he returned to New Zealand. He has since lived a quiet retired life most of the time in Wanganui and New Plymouth, but returned to Timaru about two years ago. Mr Howley died yesterday afternoon. He leaves a widow and two married daughters.

Robert Kennedy

Wanganui Herald, 15 January 1908, Page 7
Timaru, January 15. — Robert Kennedy, bailiff at Timaru for 31 years, aged 67. At the Magistrate's Court to-day reference was made by the S.M. and members of the bar, to the long and trustworthy service of deceased.

C.T.H. Perry

The Mercury Saturday 18 August 1917, page 6.
In referring to the death of Mr Cecil Thomas Henry Perry, who next to Mr J.W. White, Crown Prosecutor, was the oldest legal resident of Timaru, he having been in practice there since 1873, the Timaru Herald says - The son of an English solicitor, he was born at Hobart, Tasmania, in 1846, was educated at the Hobart High School and was admitted to the Bar at Hobart in 1870. His elder brother, Mr Arthur Perry, established himself as a solicitor in Timaru in 1865 or 1866 and Mr. Cecil Perry joined him in 1873. The name of the firm, Messrs Perry and Perry, was a household word for many years in the district. Mr Arthur Perry died a good many years ago. Prior to his death Mr Kinnerney became a partner, and his name was added to the firm's title. During the late Mr Perry's membership many very big cases were conducted by the firm of which Mr Kinnerney is the only surviving partner. The late Mr Perry was a capable solicitor in his own fields.He was not brilliant as a pleader, but painstaking, and an executor of urbanity in his conduct of cases in curt. In private life he was a cultured gentlemen - "one of nature's gentlemen". As a youth and for a great number of years he was an enthusiastic cricketer - he represented Tasmanian when only 16, and was still a proficient batsman in middle life - and when Timaru took to golf he was one of the most enthusiastic and skilful votaries of the game. The late Mr Perry married a Canadian lady, Miss Oulmette, in 1874, they had no children.

John William White  (1838-1927)

John W White and his wife, Sarah "Ellie" Shoobridge (1844-1912) were married in Hobart, Tasmania on 26 Feb. 1861 and migrated to New Zealand soon afterwards. John White later became crown prosecutor for Timaru district. They lived in "Grasmere" Evans St, Timaru from c1864 and had twelve children between c1861-1882. He had built a large two-storied home in White St, Timaru, house still standing. At the time he owned land that was called the "Grasmere Estate". Timaru has White Street and Grasmere Street. His home "Grasmere" was on the Main North Rd (Evans St) and there was a lane leading to his stables. White's lane was eventually to become White St. and is shown on maps in 1882. From "The Streets of Timaru" also includes a photo of John White with his wig on pg 162. Grasmere St was form in 1912 when part of the property of John William White "Grasmere" was subdivided.

New Zealand Herald, 30 October 1924, Page 10
Mr. J. W. White, Crown prosecutor at Timaru, has tendered his resignation after, having occupied the position for 54 years. His unique record was appreciatively referred to at the Supreme Court, Timaru, Mr. Justice Adams eulogising Mr. White's long and faithful services.

Evening Post, 9 November 1927, Page 11
The death is announced by the Press Association from Timaru of Mr. John William White, who was for 54 years Crown Prosecutor there. He was ninety years of age.

Charles Allen Wray

Press 3 April 1920, Page 11 Captain C. A. WRAY.
London, March 31. The death is announced at Bournemouth of Mr Charles Allen Wray, formerly a stipendiary magistrate in New Zealand. The late Mr Wray, a son of the late Captain L. H. Wray, R.N., was born in 1840. He was educated at the Royal Naval School, New Cross, near London, joined the Indian Navy at Bombay in 18-56, and served through, the Persian war of 1836-57, and afterwards in the Naval Brigade Bengal, 1857-59 (Indian mutiny). On the abolition of the service he became entitled to a pension, and went to China, were he gained experience in a legal office at Hongkong. He arrived in Auckland in 1864, and for time was engaged in survey work. On the outbreak of the Titokowaru rebellion in 1868, he joined the colonial forces under Colonels and Whitmore, and served as a captain in the New Zealand Militia during the war on the West Coast. On the cessation of hostilities he was appointed to the charge of confiscated lands on the West Coast, and afterwards was Commissioner of Crown Lands for the West Coast district, North Island. In 1877 he was appointed Resident Magistrate for Patea and Hawera and was transferred to Timaru in 1888. He was married, in 1865, to a daughter of the late Mr George Williams, of Remuera, Auckland, and had three sons and three daughters.  One son, Mr C J Wray, was at one time in business in Hawera, and during the war was associated with Mr R. H. Nolan in war work in London.

Mr C.A. Wray S.M. of "Ards", Talbot Avenue Bournemouth in the County of Hants (Hampshire) died there on the 28th day of March 1920.
Wife - Emily Wray
Son - Cecil James Wray, of 16 Pelham St., South Kensington, Londow, S.W., a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NZ
Daughter - Ophelia Maud Isabel Wray of Bournemouth
Had a gold chain presented to him by the people of Patea, Taranaki
and a sword which belonged to the late Colonel Phillip Hart, Royal Engineers

NZ Historic Place Category 2 - 14 North St. Timaru. Lot 2 DP 2779 (NZ Gazette 1994, p.2938), Canterbury Land District

Probates are online.



South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

 

Fairlie courthouse, just up from the post office.