Although the dismantling of the Lyttelton Timeball Station has been completed, this site remains significant to New Zealand's history, and that of international maritime history. The building was significantly damaged in the Darfield Earthquake on 4 September 2010, and damaged beyond repair in the event of 22 February 2011.
The NZHPT would like to restore parts of this fantastic historic and internationally significant maritime site. Without specific heritage funding, the options are limited for the Timeball, so we are thrilled that the project may be assisted by a generous private donation and other heritage funding sources.
Rebuilding the Timeball Station tower will help return an important historic place to the people of Canterbury and to the nation. It will restore heritage to a place that has lost much of its past and be a symbol of hope for the future.
A full rebuild of the Timeball Station simply will not be possible, but with so much of the building’s fabric retrieved, recorded and stored, we will be able to rebuild the tower, and let the Timeball rise again. The plan to rebuild the Timeball is ambitious and unique – a heritage building like this has never been rebuilt in New Zealand. This exciting project is likely to take several years and will proceed in stages. An artist's impression of how things might look is above (thanks to stantiallstudio).
Should Lyttelton's Timeball rise again?
Thanks to all those who completed our Timeball survey whether online or in person. The response was fantastic and was overwhelmingly in support of our project to reinstate the Timeball Station in some form. For questions or more information about our long-term plans, please email us using firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Timeball's story....
Like a Scottish castle dominating the scenic port of Lyttelton, the Timeball Station was one of the few of its kind left in the world.
From 1876 to 1934 a ball dropped from its mast on its stone tower, signalling the time to ships in Lyttelton Harbour. Visual time signals were important features of many of the world's ports, being necessary to correct ships' chronometers and ensure accurate navigation. The timeball apparatus came from the well-known German firm Siemens Bros, and the astronomical clock from Edward Dent & Co. of London, who had made the Big Ben clock. Use of the timeball was discontinued in 1934 when it was replaced by radio signals, though flag signals continued until 1941. The flags, which predated the Timeball Station, were used on the flagstaff nearby to signal to ships and to communicate shipping advice to the town.
A fine example of Victorian technology, the Timeball Station was until the Canterbury Earthquakes one of only five in the world known to be still in working order. It was a rare piece of maritime history, fabulously restored and boasting spectacular views over Lyttelton Harbour.
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