Berkeley Buildings

Berkeley Buildings

On this site a wooden boarding house, last known as Berkeley House, was run by a Mrs Thomas, as documented on the 1908 Borough Insurance Assessment map. On 11 March 1912, Mrs Thomas, sold her household furniture and effects on site at an auction run by Judah Keesing. A tender notice was placed in the Wanganui Herald on 13 March 1912 for the purchase and removal of Berkeley House. The architect was Mr A McFarlane of Durie Hill and particulars could be obtained either from him or from Mr R Bain.

A building permit was issued to Mrs James Bain on 26 April 1912 for a new brick building containing three shops. The estimated cost of construction was 2,400 pounds. The tender notice for the building was published on 2 May 1912 when the architect Mr A McFarlane noted that plans etc could be inspected at Mr D McFarlane’s Ridgway Street store. The Borough Engineer clearly had a  problem with McFarlane’s plans for the building as a special meeting to discuss whether the building should have one or two drains  was convened on the 23 May 1912 with the result that two drains were to be installed with two manholes in the footpath.

It is known that in 1914 the leasees of the building were Miss Nellie Thompson, an art teacher & Mr Robert Thompson a draper; the UFS Dispensary; & Misses L & E Starkey who were costumiers. By 1941, the Scotsman, William Balfour Alexander had his electrical engineering company in the building. Alexander had immigrated to New Zealand in 1908, first working on the Patea powerhouse. He came to Wanganui in 1912 and joined the tramway powerhouse staff. He was in England from 1919 to 1927 returning to take over the firm of Maunder & Co working as an electrical engineer until his death in 1947. He was president of the Wanganui branch of the NZ Institute of Electricians and placed their coat of arms, which is still intact, painted onto leadlight above the doorway to the upstairs offices. His company renamed W.B. Alexander and Co continued to occupy the building. By 1972 the firm had become Chelley Alexander and the first of a number of alterations were made to the building. A mezzanine was installed in one shop, some ceilings were lowered, some walls reclad with gib board and pinex and the shop fronts were altered with aluminium windows. The Thistle Sweet Shop was leasing a shop at this time.

In 1995 the building still had three shops but a wall was removed to create one large shop out of two smaller shops. This large shop was ‘The Light Spot’ then an amusement arcade and a kayaking shop.

By 2004 the building had become occupied by creative enterprises; Gallery Dagleish, Paiges Book Gallery, The Jeweler, Dalgleish Architects, Sue Cooke – Artist, and Inferno Design.


Guyton Street 68
Whanganui 4500 Manawatu-Wanganui NZ
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