Heritage-listed sheep pens to get facelift before 100th birthday

Marlborough Farmers Market, held every Sunday, use the sheep pens during wet and cold weather.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Marlborough Farmers Market, held every Sunday, use the sheep pens during wet and cold weather.

Marlborough’s 99-year-old A&P sheep pens, a wet weather venue for the farmer’s market, are set for some major repairs.

The Marlborough District Council has agreed to fund more than $60,000, or half the cost of the repairs of the roof and building structure of the heritage-listed pens.

It comes after a historic grandstand at the A&P Park was demolished in 2019, despite the best efforts of Pouhere Taonga Heritage New Zealand to save the 1920s structure.

An independent commissioner allowed the demolition of the grandstand, but with a list of conditions to preserve the heritage value of the wider park, which included the sheep pens and the entrance gates and wall.

READ MORE:
* Marlborough Farmers’ Market wants new building as wet-weather option
* Grandstand at Blenheim’s A&P Park gets green light for demolition
* A&P Show punters say bowl old A&P Park grandstand

​​​​​​​​A 1920s grandstand at A&P Park in Blenheim was given the green light to be demolished in 2019.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

​​​​​​​​A 1920s grandstand at A&P Park in Blenheim was given the green light to be demolished in 2019.

A report prepared for the council’s assets and services meeting last week said the sheep pavilion was officially opened in 1923, and the structure had remained largely unchanged since.

However, some pens had been removed to allow for wet weather access to the farmers market, the report said.

In 1974, the pens were sold to the Marlborough District Council, but had remained under the management of the Marlborough A&P Association. They became heritage listed in 1985.

The sheep pens will be 100 next year.

Anthony Phelps/STUFF

The sheep pens will be 100 next year.

As part of the conditions to remove the grandstand, the council also engaged with a heritage consultant to prepare a conservation plan for the sheep pavilion, which was completed in 2020. The plan enabled the restoration work and improvements to be completed.

The report said losing the sheep pens would be “significant” to the historic landscape in Marlborough, and that there was an opportunity to support the long-term survival of the building through the work.

The structure of the pens, and the roof need improvements.

Anthony Phelps/STUFF

The structure of the pens, and the roof need improvements.

Speaking at the meeting through Zoom, council parks and open spaces manager Robert Hutchinson said it was important to give the pavilion a good celebration for its 100th anniversary, by starting to undertake the restoration work.

Hutchinson said architects had identified issues with the building, including significant works to the roof structure and beams.

He also showed councilors images of rot in the beams, telling them the structure of the building was “compromised”. Sections of the gutter also needed to be replaced to take water away from the roof trusses.

The pens were heritage listed in 1985.

Anthony Phelps/STUFF

The pens were heritage listed in 1985.

Blenheim ward councilor David Croad asked Hutchinson if the repairs were all that would be needed.

Hutchinson said the repair work was from the surveyors report, and there may be surprises.

“We don’t know what those costs will be, we don’t know what those repairs will be, we’ll just have to deal with them at the time,” Hutchinson said.

“Long-term there is budget … to deal with maintenance issues in the future.”

Councilor Cynthia Brooks said pens were a “precious building”.

“The architecture in it is beautiful, and you don’t find many old wooden buildings still around. So I certainly support retaining it and bringing it back, if you like, and keeping it safe for the future.”

A&P Association Marlborough president William Harris told councilors they planned to do some fundraising to meet the other half of the costs. Details were being finalized, but it could include members of the public sponsoring a sheet of iron. The total quoted cost of repairs was $127,500.

The association had lost some funding because they had not been able to have two A&P shows due to Covid-19.

The committee approved the funding, subject to full council approval this month.

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