House now snapshot in time

Job done . . . Sharing a moment at the opening of the former Ministry of Works house are (from left) project co-ordinator Rick Ramsay, Sue Rattray, Frank Hocken and project manager Ivan Stratford. PHOTOS: CONNOR HALEY

Twizel residents were last week finally able to step through the time-travelling threshold of a ‘‘Reg 130’’ house.

After two long years, the Twizel Heritage Group cut the ribbon to officially open the newest piece of the town’s heritage precinct.

During the project, a largely unchanged 76sq m Ministry of Works house was relocated and completely kitted out with all the period correct items needed to provide a permanent snapshot of the town’s hydro glory days.

The house was formerly Sue Rattray’s holiday home.

With monetary help from Twizel local Frank Hocken, the Mackenzie District Council and the Meridian Power Up fund, the heritage group had its proposal accepted by Mrs Rattray and work begun.

Having a look . . . About 100 people attended the opening ceremony to walk through the ‘‘Reg 130’’ house.

Project manager Ivan Stratford said he could not believe they had finally got to the opening day.

‘‘I think it’s actually impressive we got here.

‘‘It’s two years. We’ve just been chugging away and you don’t realise it’s been that long since it started.

‘‘People have bought into it from all over the country. It’s been really amazing to see.’’

He said wished to thank everybody involved for all their support.

‘‘We’ve done what we’ve done but we couldn’t have done without all the help from the community, the suppliers and the tradespeople who never hesitated to come and help us out.

‘‘I think at the end of the day, everyone is going to be happy it was saved.’’

Cutting the ribbon . . . The house’s previous owner, Sue Rattray, officially opens the building to the public.

Project co-ordinator Rick Ramsay said the best thing about the whole project had been the community support. ‘‘They have just backed the project,’’ he said.

‘‘If we asked for something I don’t think we were ever turned down.

‘‘There are so many businesses in town that either in a small way or a large way became engaged with the work.

‘‘It’s been really great to get that buy-in from the community for what we have now termed the heritage precinct.’’

The opening ceremony was held last Friday and nearly 100 people turned up for a chance to see what had been created.

Mackenzie District Mayor Anne Munro spoke at the opening, highlighting the importance of having such a building saved and on display.

Mrs Rattray and Frank Hocken also spoke and shared stories about the building and their personal experiences with the project.

Blast from the past . . . The interior of the house is decorated to look just as it was back in the hydro era.

Mr Ramsay, a Twizel resident since 1977, said it was important to preserve the history of the town.

‘‘Twizel is unique because it was built solely for the purpose of building a hydro-electric scheme.’’

‘‘The reason for Twizel being here gets lost over time . . .I think that’s the thing that drives us.

‘‘There is a whole history behind this town which has created an enormous piece of renewable energy and there are a whole lot of people who lived here.

‘‘There was a population max of 6000 but there are potentially upwards of 10,000 people connected to Twizel over that hydro period and they’re scattered all over the world.’’

Officially open . . . Mackenzie District mayor Anne Munro addresses the crowd at the opening ceremony.

The reactions they had received from people about the project had been amazing, he said.

‘‘From the comments on social media people are saying ‘my god, that’s my house’ and I think that’s probably the best compliment we could be paid.

‘‘What the house is doing is it’s reviving memories.’’

Due to issues around public access, the building will not be open as a norm for the public to physically walk through.

A platform has been built around it which allows for 90% of what is inside to be seen.

Mr Ramsay said that there would, however, be special open days every now and again, allowing people a chance to have a proper look inside.

‘‘We had a group of 90 schools kids from Christchurch visit us because they were doing a study on Twizel, so we invited them down to have a look and give them that extra bit of learning.

‘‘There is a lot of opportunity for things like that.’’

Sleeping in style . . . The house is complete right down to a period accurate bedroom suite.

Mr Ramsay said it was one of those projects that would never really be finished.

‘‘There will still always be something.

‘‘We’ve still got the garage project to do next to it and there are still some alterations to do and bits and pieces will continue to be added.

‘‘The key thing was getting the viewing platform and the access sorted.

‘‘I’d say about 95% of the stuff we wanted to display is in here.’’

Back in time . . . Each and every cupboard in the house is fully stocked with all the necessary items.

He said the correct fireplace still needed to be installed and there was still plenty of signage to be done detailing the story of the house. They were also still after an ashtray with the push-top that spun.

Group members will now turn their attention to their garage project which will sit beside the house.

Work has already begun on collecting the period correct tools and putting in applications for funding.

Mr Ramsay said he hoped to get the project under way and the foundation for it down when the weather started to get a bit warmer.