20 Sep 2016

A Christchurch builder’s generosity is helping to ensure Lyttelton’s historic red rock retaining walls stand for future generations.

After amassing a pile of volcanic red rock from the demolition of a garage at a property he was working on in Lyttelton, builder Greg Bathurst decided it would be a waste to throw the rock away so he offered to make it available to the crews working to reface the township’s earthquake damaged red rock retaining walls.

The walls are a distinctive part of Lyttelton’s streetscape and many of them were built in the mid-19th century by the inmates of Lyttelton Gaol. During the earthquakes many of them collapsed or were so badly damaged that they needed to be deconstructed.

The cost of refacing all the damaged walls is prohibitively high but key walls around the township are being refaced using salvaged rocks.

“We were really pleased when Greg offered us the rock because it has been in short supply. It is fantastic that this rock, rather than being sent to landfill or thrown into the harbour, is going back into Lyttelton,’’ said Christchurch City Council Heritage Conservation Planner Victoria Bliss.

Mr Bathurst said the red rock walls were unique to Lyttelton and he was pleased to be able to contribute to their restoration.

“I’ve been working over in the township a lot since the quakes and have been watching the work they’ve been doing to restore the retaining walls and just thought it was one small way I could help.

“I think it’s great so much effort is being put into those restoring those walls, particularly when you think about all that’s been lost in Lyttelton because of the quakes,’’ Mr Bathurst said.

Ms Bliss said the red rock walls had great heritage significance as they dated back to the very early settlement of Lyttelton and made a fundamental contribution to Lyttelton’s identity and the sense of it being a unique part of Christchurch.

“Refacing the walls is an expensive exercise but we want to do it wherever possible because they form a key element of the historic streetscape and visual amenity of the town,’’ she said.