vallance Cottage is quaint, old and carefully restored.
The cottage, which catches your attention on the right as you drive out of Alexandra towards Chatto Creek, is a great candidate for Charms of Yesteryear.

Firstly, it suits the headline.
It is charming, an observation that can be credited to the many people who helped restore it to its former glory after it was given to the community by the Vallance family in the 1990s.

Vallance Cottage was crafted from mud brick in 1896 by early Central Otago settler William Vallance.

First residents … Jean and William Vallance, who built Vallance Cottage in Alexandra where they raised their eight children. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/CENTRAL STORIES MUSEUM

A plaque outside the cottage tells his story.
He was a Scottish migrant, a well-known identity in Alexandra, who worked on the gold mines and dredges in Central Otago.
When time allowed, he worked on his own gold claim just across the Manuherikia River from his home.

Mr Vallance also worked on cuttings that eventually allowed the railway to come through from Ranfurly to Alexandra, and was a foreman at the local rabbit factory before it was closed.

After long days spent working, Mr Vallance would return to the two-room cottage he shared with his wife, Jean.
They had eight children, who slept two to a bed.
As their family grew, so did the cottage.

Its expansion started with a separate washhouse, followed by an extra bedroom and development of kitchen, sitting room and scullery.
There was no electricity until much later.
Instead, like many residents at the time, they made do with a safe for their food items.
All of the hardships they faced, including the harsh Central Otago winters, were treated as the norm.

The cottage has been restored by an enthusiastic group of people and continues to be cared for by the Vallance Cottage Working Group.

Sitting pretty . . . Vallance Cottage is an example of how life was for Alexandra’s early settlers. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON
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