Watchmaker’s stands test of time


The News continues its series on old buildings and this week takes a look at the Naseby Watchmaker’s Shop.

Alexia Johnston finds out what made it tick all those years ago.

Time has been kind to Naseby’s Watchmaker’s Shop.

The category 1 historic building in Leven St features a style that gives the impression time really has stood still — a building that has been well maintained and in keeping with its character.

Maniototo Early Settlers Museum curator Maryann Devereux has passed on some of her knowledge of the building and its original owner, Robert Strong, to The News.

She said Mr Strong, who was born in England, arrived in Naseby in the mid-1860s and was in business by 1868 during the peak of the Maniototo gold rush.

‘‘The flimsy building, made from timber framing and corrugated iron-clad exterior, and a decorative facade, was never envisaged as a permanent construction . . .’’

She said the shop was unusual because of its survival and the length of time it was occupied for its original purpose.

‘‘It is a rare example of a goldfields shop from that era.’’

In 1872, Mr Strong built a small extension above the front of the shop to house the town clock, but dust from the street frequently clogged up the mechanism.

Once upon a time . . . The Naseby Watchmaker’s Shop, which was established by Robert Strong in 1868, still stands today. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/ MANIOTOTO EARLY SETTLERS MUSEUM

To solve the problem, he modified it so it was just the clockface on the outside and the mechanism was inside the shop.

It was later converted to a modern electric-style motor by the Maniototo Early Settlers Museum.
The clock is one of two remaining public clocks in the town — the other one is in Derwent St, on the Naseby Information Centre, which was the old post office.

The Naseby Watchmaker’s Shop was continued by Mr Strong’s son, William, until 1967 and in 1975 the building and its contents were given to the Maniototo Early Settlers Museum by the Strong family.

The shop was recognised as having special or outstanding significance by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, and was classified as a category 1 listing.

It is not open to the public, but there is a viewing window into the main shop and another window into the watchmaker’s room, via the Jubilee Museum next door.

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