Historic Place Category 2
Lot 2 DP 44230 (CT CB24A/744), Canterbury Land District
Extent of Registration
Registration includes the house, its fittings and fixtures, and the land on CT CB24A/744
The section on which the stone cottage at 471 Ferry Rd is sited was part of a block first granted to businessman and Provincial Council member Charles Blakiston in 1859.
Blakiston called his property Ashbourne. In 1863 he subdivided, selling a section to Irishman James Courtenay for £63. Courtenay, a stonemason, had migrated to Australia and worked in Melbourne for a period before his arrival in Canterbury where he was part of the construction team for the Christchurch/Lyttelton railway tunnel project. Following his purchase of the Ferry Road property he proceeded to build a cottage for himself and his family from stone quarried from the Port Hills. He also built a house for Enys at Castle Hill Station during the 1860s, and may have cut stone for the Cathedral there. He was awarded the contract for the Cathedral foundations, but for some reason was unable to take it up. (The family believe it was because he was declared bankrupt at this time.) After Courtenay's death in 1879, the cottage was transmitted to his widow Mary Ann Courtenay. Mrs Courtenay died in 1914, and the cottage was transmitted to her daughters Rebecca Jane McManus and Mary Francis Courtenay.
After a family ownership of 53 years the cottage changed hands in 1916, when the sisters transferred it to blacksmith Albert Watson, who may once have driven the Riccarton coach. This was the first of many changes of ownership over the next 50 years. In 1971 the property was sold to nurseryman Bruce Currie and his wife Maureen who gave the cottage the name "Portstone". They also acquired surrounding land, and subsequently opened the Portstone Nursery, and a pet shop in a house to the east of the cottage.
In 1980 substantial alterations were undertaken to adapt the building for use as a restaurant. At the rear of the house a new main guest entrance and a women's toilet block were added, and the scullery was converted to accommodate men's toilets. The modern front door was replaced with something more in keeping with the age of the house. Both chimneys were taken down, and the western one replaced with a smaller replica. The cottage reopened as the Portstone Restaurant later that year. By the late 1980s the restaurant was purchased by the present owner, Elizabeth Thompson, who renamed it 'Dizzy Lizzy's'. Today the cottage is a private restaurant for functions, and provides a base for out-catering. The cottage, framed by a traditional colonial style garden, remains as a visible historic feature fronting Ferry Road.
Historic significance as one of the earliest surviving buildings along Ferry Road, a major route between the city and the busy landing site at Ferrymead in the colonial era.
Its construction of stone gives it architectural significance or value, as this was unusual for domestic buildings in predominantly wooden colonial Christchurch.
Although the cottage has general social significance as a fine representative example of early working class housing in the city, it also has special value as one of only a handful of surviving stone houses. Many of the earliest permanent material homes were of a more prestigious character; stone working class cottages were never great in number. Further social importance is added by the house demonstrating the skills of its owner/builder James Courtenay, an immigrant Irish stonemason.
Summary of Assessed Criteria
(a) is representative in design and scale of early working class dwellings in Christchurch.
(g) is an unusually well-built example of a colonial era working class house, in a period when the majority of such houses were timber.
(h) symbolizes, in a highly visible place, the colonial working class origins of the now increasingly industrialized suburb of Woolston.
(i) is an early example of working class housing in Christchurch.
(j) is a now rare example of a colonial dwelling in the city.
- Courtenay, James - Builder
The house is a small rectangular masonry cottage with a hipped slate roof which flares at the bottom. The stone was quarried from the nearby Port Hills and the owner's descendants have passed down the story that it came from the stone provided for the construction of the Christchurch /Lyttelton rail tunnel, begun 1860. The front of the house facing Ferry Road features carefully cut blocks of random shaped stone with the symmetrically ordered central front door and flanking sash windows more formally framed by massive oblong blocks. At the cottage's sides and rear the stone blocks are less regular in size with the rear wall constructed of rubble.
A 1969 family owned photo of the cottage shows that the cottage was originally enhanced by a verandah across its frontage. The original internal plan was typical of the time with the front door opening to a passage giving access to the two flanking front rooms, the living room (parlour) to the right and a bedroom on the left. Another bedroom and the kitchen, with lean-to scullery, were set behind. Only some of the original internal walls have been retained since the 1980 alterations were made to create larger spaces for restaurant use.
- Original Construction: 1863 (circa)
- Modification: 1980 (circa)
Squared rubble with a slate roof.
- Christchurch City Council,Heritage Unit File, Building File.
- Interview,Conversations with current building owner (January 2005), and Nick Courtenay, architect, descendant of James Courtenay (February 2005).
- Land Information New Zealand,Deeds and Titles
- G.R. MacDonald, Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies, Canterbury Museum, n.d.,Charles Blakiston, James Courtenay, Albert Watson
A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region Office.
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