Friends of the Dunedin Gasworks Museum

A world class industrial heritage site

Gasworks Museum strengthens ties with Otago University.

Today, Trustees met Wiebke Hendry, Otago University Centre for Science Communication internship co-ordinator, on site, about a possible internship with the Gasworks museum. Wiebke indicated she will promote our operation as a possible internship, but advised the final decision is with the students and no guarantees could be made. The trustees acknowledged the strengthening ties with the university and noted we are happy to accommodate an intern’s application at any time.

Busy Open day

Open day yesterday, and we ran some tests on the boiler feed-pump motor. This allowed us to steam up – not a usual Tuesday event.
DCC consultation project organiser Emma O’Neil and assistant Rowan visited this afternoon to plan for the “DCC South Dunedin Retail Centre Strategy – Issues and Opportunities Consultation” open day event, to be held at the museum on Wednesday 12 May.
Our contract inspector checked out the traction engine for its annual boiler certification.

Families Enjoy open day

Visitors at Today’s open day enjoyed observing the steam engines in operation. We were especially pleased to see several families visit the museum. On the maintenance side, problems with the boiler feed pump caused some initial concern, however, soon our experienced engineering staff had the problems under control, and full active displays continued without disruption.

GWM trustees check out latest technology

Today members of the GWM board visited the Otago Museum to view their recently opened interactive exhibition “Survival Factor”, prepared and installed by the Otago Institute of Design. Mark Miller, Otago Institute of Design, manager, gave GWM trust members an introduction and description of the various exhibits. Trust members considered the display with the view to provide concept systems to be installed in our refurbished Fitting shop. A short sharp brain-storm session followed. Watch this space for the introduction of the latest technology soon to be installed in our museum complex.

Claire Curran MP for Dunedin South applauds DCC decision over supermarket development.

13 April 2010 Media Statement
Gas Works Museum a Unique Treasure
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran today applauded the Dunedin City Council’s decision to put the brakes on Progressive Enterprises plans to build a supermarket on Andersons Bay Road. “The site is adjacent to the Gas Works Museum and careful consideration must be given to complementary development. The Gas Works Museum is a unique treasure; one of Dunedin’s best kept secrets and it needs the support of Dunedin’s leaders to ensure it ongoing viability.”

“I am not against Progressive Enterprises building a supermarket on that site”, says Ms Curran, “there would be some good benefits to the community. However, given the status of the museum I would like to see the plans redrawn in consultation with the museum’s board to ensure that the proposed structure and the operation of the supermarket does not interfere with the operation and plans of the museum.”

“I understand, that according to Sir Neil Cossins, former chairman of English Heritage, that this museum is the best example of an operating Gaswork’s plant in the world. It is a great asset for South Dunedin, for the city and for the nation. It is home to a collection of historic artefacts of national significance.”

“The Gasworks Museum Trust is currently undertaking a major restoration of the old Fitting Shop. The trust has great plans and the potential for development is exciting. My hope is that Progressive Enterprises will come to the table and talk to the Trust Board and together work on ways that the museum and the supermarket might work together to enhance the revitalisation of South Dunedin.”

Contact Clare Curran 021 242 1813

A busy day at the museum today

A busy day at the museum today 13/4/10.
The boiler was fired up and the engines were run.
We hosted a group from the George street normal school, and had a visit from Grant Robertson, MP for Wellington Central and Labour Party spokesperson on Art, Culture and Heritage, who was visiting Dunedin,  accompanied by his Office Manager Steven O’Connor and Claire Curran’s office administrator Penny.

Ann Barsby, Steven O'Connor, Penny, John Martin, John Heaven and Grant Robertson viewing progress on the Fitting Shop.


All usual maintenance work was completed, and various projects continued. Two new members were signed up, and a family group from Timaru enjoyed their visit

Fitting Shop roof slates replaced

Good progress is being made on the Fitting Shop restoration. In the last week the contractors have started placing the roof slates on the structure.

After an engineering report warned  that  the heritage listed building was in likelihood of collapse, a major restoration effort was put in place. The outer brick walls have been straightened by lifting the roof and straightening them by gentle realignment.

The mortar in the brickwork has also been replaced.

Further exterior work  has to be done and windows fitted into the brick archways. The intended use of the building once restoration is completed in to act as a administration – reception area, library and seminar room for visitors to the museum. Completion is  expected to take 2 more months.

Patricia Coleman Lecture Report

Professor Helen Leach

In her lecture, Professor Helen Leach addressed the issue of why our forebears chose to cook with coal gas.
Professor Leach outlined 5 factors that she believes influenced peoples decision making relating to cooking with gas.
Firstly: Gas versus Coal. Gas did not become popular as a haet source until the 1890’s in Britain after a series of innovations such as the Bunsen’s self aerating burner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunsen_burner) which turned the gas flame into a hot, blue flame. Such innovations stimulated the production of coal gas. Developments were paralleled with the development of distribution networks, coin metres and cookers for hire.

The second influence was appliances. first appliances were based upon coal range designs, with similar features. Because coal ranges were durable they had a long life and did not need replacing so that at first it was diifficult for gas stoves to make inroads into the market.

Thirdly the Gas stove had to be acceptable. A lot of marketing went into convincing people to adopt gas cookers. Persuasive arguments were based on the cost of gas, ease of use and the fact that savings could be made because fewer servants would be needed.

Another factor was that receptive consumers began to be convinced that gas cookers could save time and money so that by the early 1900’s gas companies in New Zealand were holding cooking demonstrations. Cookbook writers began creating sections on gas cooking.

Finally competition with electricity eventually saw the demise of the gas stove. In Britain electricity was promoted as an alternative to gas in the 1890’s, however it was still 3x more expensive that gas at this time. By 1926 Shacklock was producing its Orion Electric stove. Electric stoves cost approximately three times that of a gas stove at this time. However it was the development of a thermostat on gas stoves which gave gas an edge and allowed gas stoves to maintain a competitive advantage over electric stoves until the 1950’s when Shacklock produced their first thermostat model electric stove. After this gas stoves could no longer compete with electric ranges.

Representatives of the Museum Trust Board in discussions with Progressive Enterprises

Today representatives of the Trust met with a representative of Progressive Enterprises to discuss the proposed Countdown Supermarket development on the Northern Boundary of the Museum. This proposal has been through a resource consent hearing and we await the decision of the Dunedin City Council. The Trust is opposed to height and scale of the development that impacts upon the amenity value of the Museum. It is the wish of the Museum Trust Board that Progressive Enterprises move the building off the boundary.