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GOING UP: Rector Nick McIvor checks out progress on stage one. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Work on stage one of a major redevelopment of Timaru Boys’ High School’s boarding establishment, Thomas House, is well under way and on track for completion in November.

Rector Nick McIvor said Thomas House had an important place in the school.

“We’re eager to keep the special place of Thomas House, and one way is to keep up with the times and ensure future generations benefit, especially those far from us,” Mr McIvor said.

Rather than go through the expense of upgrading old buildings, the school decided to rebuild with modern facilities.

“It makes sense for us while in a position of strength to future-proof and maintain high-quality support for our boys.”

At present, 120 boys out of a total roll of 650 board at Thomas House.

Stage one will include 18 twin rooms for 36 boys with housemaster accommodation, a sickbay, common room and other facilities.

“The new building development is not intended to substantially increase the hostel. We like its current size.

“We don’t want to risk losing its culture,” Mr McIvor said.

Thomas House boys come predominantly from Mid-Canterbury, followed by Central Otago. Some have also come from the North Island, Chatham Islands and from overseas.

“It can be quite a diverse community,” Mr McIvor said.

The estimated cost of stage one is about $1.8million.

As Thomas House is owned and operated by the school board, it did not qualify for Ministry of Education funding, so money had to be raised through a joint parent-board committee, the Thomas House redevelopment committee.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the support we’ve received from the old boys, past parents and organisations from the wider community to get us where we are,” Mr McIvor said.

Funds are being raised for stage two of the redevelopment which, once completed, would bring the final cost to $3.2million.

Stage one is expected to be finished on November 30, and Mr McIvor said a formal opening ceremony would be held.

Timaru Boys High School’s first hostel, known as The Rectory, was built in 1907.

In 1935, it was renamed Thomas House after William Thomas who was rector for 22 years from 1913.