Thursday, April 25, 2024

Council orders fall of Victory Shed

Demolition of an historic WWII Whanganui shed that’s been deemed a hazard due to its asbestos content has been approved by the district’s council.

Whanganui District Council’s chief operating officer, Lance Kennedy confirmed that the 1940s-built Victoria Shed would be demolished shortly.

The shed is located on wharves which are being upgraded as part of Te Pūwaha, a collaborative project to revitalise Whanganui’s port.

While it was originally hoped the 1602 square metre building could be retained and used for storage in the project’s commercial marine precinct, continual degradation due to scouring out of the underlying wharf structure has left it unviable.

Mr Kennedy said there was some urgency around the demolition as the building is unstable and contains asbestos.

“At this point, our priority is to protect the river from any contamination and ensure the safety of workers and the community.”

He said significant subsidence under the wharves, including the Victory Shed, had been of concern to the council for a number of years.

Mayor Hamish McDouall, a member of the governance group for Te Pūwaha, says the Victory Shed was built after World War II to support industry and commerce at the port.

“According to records it was originally named the ‘Victory over Japan Shed’ with the intention that it would become a practical and functional war memorial.”

He says many local people, particularly in Castlecliff, will have an association with the Victory Shed.

“Although the building is not heritage listed, we acknowledge its social and historic connection within the Te Pūwaha project.”

Construction on the Whanganui wharf began in 1884 and included the Castlecliff railway station as a private venture launched by the Heads, then the Castlecliff Railway Company.  

The area is a pre-1900 archaeological site and an archaeologist is working with the Te Pūwaha project.

As part of the wharf redevelopment, photographic records will be taken. Where possible, materials from the building will be salvaged and reused, including the barn-style doors and runners and the name from the side of the building.

This part of the Te Pūwaha project will upgrade 424m of wharves – 200m on Wharf 2 to enable the safe operation of commercial marine activities – and 224m on Wharf 3.

The project will also include development of marine infrastructure, provision of a hardstand and runway suitable for a 300 tonne vessel hoist to enable boats to be lifted in and out of the water and improvements to silt remediation technology to enhance the local boat building and marine industry.

A Te Pūwaha community engagement hui will be held at 5.30pm, tomorrow (Tuesday 10 August) at the Duncan Pavilion, Castlecliff Beach and will provide an overview of the project.

For project updates, please visit www.whanganui.govt.nz/port or email portproject@whanganui.govt.nz.

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