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Other Barrett Street Nurses' Home, New Plymouth - April 2017

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Barrett Street Nurses’ Home, which is a two-storey roughcast building, was designed in 1918 by the firm Messenger and Griffths. At the cost of £16,089, it was constructed between 1921 and 1922. It was officially opened on 14th March 1922 by the Minister of Health at the time, Mr. C. J. Parr.Further additions were added by Frank Messenger in 1928, 1936 and 1945. One final part of the building was also modified in 1950, five years after Messengers death. The nurses’ home was one of the many buildings at Barrett Street Hospital that the Messenger and Griffths firm designed; the others include, a doctor’s residence, storage buildings, a children’s ward, the ambulance garage, a laundry block and the Board offices. 


As indicated in our report of Barrett Street Hospital, in August 2012 the legal and illegal tenants of the Barrett Street site were forced to vacate the buildings with immediate effect due to assessments that had revealed their poor structural integrity. In other words, the entire site was deemed earthquake prone. What is more, the assessment also revealed that there were extremely high levels of asbestos throughout most of the old buildings; therefore, the entire site has been marked as posing a health risk to the general public. As things stand in 2017, demolitions plans are said to be imminent, starting with the removal of asbestos. However, it has been reported that the old nurses’ home, which is now a Category A heritage building, will not be demolished. Having said that, though, no decisions have been made concerning what will actually happen to it. 


Our Version of Events

As indicated in our last report, we’d already spent much time trying to get inside the old nurses’ home and, as far as we could tell, it seemed pretty inaccessible. Nevertheless, after having something of a group ‘lightbulb moment’, we decided to have one last crack and check out a part of the building we’d previously neglected to thoroughly examine. It’s a good job we did have a look there too, because that ended up being our way inside this incredibly historic building. 


Once inside, it was quickly very obvious that the place was almost completely stripped. Admittedly, this was a little disappointing, but, as we would soon discover, the building had much more to offer in the way of aesthetic features. It didn’t take us long, then, to realise that this building was much different to the rest of the hospital we’d already wandered around. Rather than adhering to a traditional medical-style design, this place was heavily cladded in dark brown wood. The floors, too, weren’t your average concrete base, or plywood; there were solid hard wood boards covering them. The place was fantastic, especially with the lingering smell of the wood in the air, which was a bit like the mouth-watering aroma you get when you bake a joint of ham. Are we all hungry now? 


Ignoring the sudden craving for ham, we cracked on and made our way through a long corridor towards a sizable wooden staircase. From here building only got better and better. Down on the ground floor we came across several large rooms that reminded us of being inside a traditional English pub, or a fancy teaching college. Take your pick. Then came a large grand hall, the old laundry room and a traditional-looking kitchen. In hindsight, the place could easily become a small museum, not unlike some of the buildings you can find in Beamish. The final interesting feature we uncovered in the building was a strange metal contraption that looked a little bit like an incinerator. In fact, there was one in every single bathroom we’d wandered into. However, we couldn’t be sure they were incinerators, all we know is that we’ve never come across anything like them before. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time left to investigate them too thoroughly as we didn’t have a spanner on hand, and we were rapidly losing daylight. It had taken us that much time to explore the whole hospital, and all of its buildings, that it was almost time to find a pub somewhere in New Plymouth. You can probably guess what we did next, then. With that thought firmly planted in our minds, it was time to pack up the camera equipment and get back to the car. 


Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 










































































































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Some really nice features left here, the building was lovely. I like the before and after shots. Relatively unleashed too which is always nice. 

Nice to see something new :) 

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