Following Wellington City Council’s decision to earthquake strengthen and refurbish the Basin Reserve Museum Stand – work is well underway with main contractor Armstrong Downes providing structural strengthening works and JMA Decorators carrying out the refurbishment painting.

A little history

In 1857 citizens began to petition the Provincial Council for a site to create a permanent cricket ground. With the city growing rapidly, cricket fields were being built upon as quickly as they were developed and the English settlers’ passion for the game would not abate. The Council approved the petition and gave them the site they desired, Smith’s former Basin at Te Aro. It was no small task turning this swampy piece of land into a ground suitable for cricket and recreation.

However, the prison at the nearby Mt Cook barracks offered free labour and, in February 1863, prisoners began the task of flattening and draining the new Basin Reserve. While the work to reclaim land from the earthquake-inspired swamp was successful, the Basin Reserve’s place as the home of cricket was not confirmed until the first game was played here on January 11, 1868. Cricket’s love affair with the Basin Reserve had begun.

The Museum Stand is one of the two prominent stands on the ground [at the Basin Reserve]. As the first purpose-built stand, one with a strong association with recreational and sporting development in Wellington and a very long-standing connection with cricket, it has high historic value. It has high social value, providing ongoing amenity value for spectators at the ground, and with the rest of the Reserve, is held in high esteem by Wellingtonians.

The building has high aesthetic significance. It has architectural value for its simple but elegant composition, Stripped Classical detailing and careful use of structure to suit its function. The stand has been little modified over the years and retains a high level of authenticity; its construction and structure is of high technical value.

The Museum Stand is a landmark structure both within and without the Reserve and has a particularly strong presence on Rugby Street and accordingly high townscape value. It has group value in particular with the new stand but also with the other buildings and structures on the grounds, with which it forms part of a wider historical precinct that is of high significance to Wellington and Wellingtonians.