Explore the Historic Cromwell Heritage Precinct

Cromwell Heritage Precinct Directory
Cromwell Heritage Precinct Directory

Cromwell Heritage Precinct

On our first visit through Cromwell we got gas and continued driving. It wasn’t until our second visit, that we found the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. Known as ‘Central Otago’s best kept secret’, it is a free visitor attraction. Additionally, it’s a great place to take the whole family.

When the Clyde Dam was completed in 1992 it flooded Cromwell’s historic town centre, 280 homes, six farms and 17 orchards. Many historic buildings were disassembled before the flooding and have since been rebuilt in a pedestrianised precinct beside Lake Dunstan. While some have been set up as period museum pieces (stables and the like), others house a few good cafes, galleries and some interesting shops.

If you want to explore the Cromwell Heritage Precinct before you leave home, visit their website. Alternatively, wait until you visit and read the various signboards outside the historic buildings.

D A Jolly & Sons

D. A. Jolly & Sons
D. A. Jolly & Sons

David Anderson Jolly, originally from Scotland, built his first store in 1870 further down the road. The Seed & Grain store was his second building. In the 1960s or early 1970s the building was renovated and become a doctor’s surgery. Eventually the building was demolished, stored and later reconstructed on its present site using the same stones.

Seed & Grain Cafe

When visiting the Heritage Precinct, we always stop at the Seed & Grain Café for a cuppa and something to eat.  The coffee and food are excellent as are the staff who work there. The café is quite small, however there is seating outside as well.

Coffee at the Seed & Grain Cafe
Coffee at the Seed & Grain Cafe

Murrell’s Cottage

Murrell’s Cottage is one of two buildings on its original site in the historic precinct. The stone cottage was the laundry and storage area for the main house. Whereas the main house, located at the front, was made from corrugated iron.

Murrell’s Cottage
Murrell’s Cottage

Belfast Store – Sherwood & Co

While originally called Sherwood and Wright in 1878 it become Sherwood & Co by 1885. It later became known as the London House. Belfast Store was demolished, stored and reconstructed using the same stones. It is now home to the OCTA Gallery.

Belfast Store
Belfast Store

London Stables

Located behind London House down the alley, you’ll find London Stables. Back in the day, late 1800s, the main mode of transport was horses. The stables provided casual lodging for horses and wagons.

London Stables
London Stables

The Almond Tree

The Almond Tree was grown from a nut “rescued” from the original Almond Tree grown by an early pioneering family in the garden of a house near the site. The original tree was felled during land work for the formation of Old Cromwell Town.

Muriel Craig, a descendant of any early pioneering family, gathered nuts from the tree and grew several seedlings to replant. This beautiful Almond Tree is one of those seedlings.

The Almond Tree
The Almond Tree

Cromwell Free Trade Butchery (Captain Barry’s)

Capital Jackson Berry arrived from Sydney in 1863. He successfully brought competition to the area. Additionally, he was successful in lowering the price of meat to sixpence per pound. This is another building that was demolished, stored and rebuilt. Downstairs you’ll find Marie Velenski – Earth Elements.

Cromwell Free Trade Butchery (Captain Barry’s)
Cromwell Free Trade Butchery (Captain Barry’s)

Lowburn Cottage

While not from the main street of Cromwell, it was decided to include Lowburn Cottage in the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. The mud-brick cottage was reminiscent of those from the Lowburn and Bannockburn areas that had been built in the latter 1800s. The bricks were obtained from the demolition of the woolshed at Bonspiel Station at Moa Creek.

Lowburn Cottage
Lowburn Cottage

Mary’s Dairy

This Museum space houses equipment used in early milk production in the Cromwell District and was donated to the Old Cromwell Town Heritage Precinct.

Mary's Dairy
Mary’s Dairy

Scott’s Bakery

James L Scott, originally from Scotland, was trained as a baker in London. However, when he arrived in Cromwell he took up gold mining. He is reported to have been the first man to set up a “fluming” (elevated water race) across the Molyneux (Clutha) River. He continued mining until 1869 when he established the bakery at Cromwell. The original Scott’s Bakery is now under the waters of Lake Dunstan.

Scott’s Bakery
Scott’s Bakery

Cromwell Post & Telegraph Office

The Post & Telegraph Office was originally a small wooden hut until a new building was proposed until in 1871. It remained a post office until a new one was built in 1929. It was reconstructed from its original plans and is now a bar/restaurant.

Cromwell Post & Telegraph Office
Cromwell Post & Telegraph Office

Cromwell Argus

The Cromwell Argus was one of two newspapers available in Cromwell in 1869. However, the other newspaper Cromwell Guardian, lasted only three and a half months. The Cromwell Argus must have been doing it right as they were in business until 1948. It ceased publication when taken over by the Central Otago News.

Cromwell Argus
Cromwell Argus

Cobb & Co Storeroom

Built in 1866 it was the storeroom for the coach company Cobb & Co. The coach service continued until the arrival of the train service in 1917. The building was demolished, stored and later reconstructed on its present site using the same stones. It is now home to Transpire Fiber Studio & Craft Gallery.

Cobb & Co Storeroom
Cobb & Co Storeroom

Renshaw’s

While the building is called Renshaw’s it was originally owned by Michael Tharco in 1875. Very little of the building is currently standing as the rest has been demolished. However, it does have a beautiful view of Lake Dunstan.

Renshaw's at the Heritage Precinct
Renshaw’s at the Heritage Precinct

Athenaeum Hall

Now here’s an impressive building – well, what’s left of it anyway. Originally built in 1874. However, in 1875 the Athenaeum Trust added a small reading room and library. While it is partially destroyed is has been engulfed by the land around it.

Athenaeum Hall
Athenaeum Hall

The Second Cromwell School Building

When the first school became too small for the number students, the second school was eventually built which completed in 1874. Partially demolished, there is very little to see. There are danger signs advising not to walk on the site, however it appears that a lot of visitors ignored these.

The Second Cromwell School Building
The Second Cromwell School Building
Left; Athenaeum Hall & Right; The Second Cromwell School Building
Left; Athenaeum Hall & Right; The Second Cromwell School Building

The Cromwell Heritage Precinct

View of Lake Dunstan from the Cromwell Heritage Precinct
View of Lake Dunstan from the Cromwell Heritage Precinct

Don’t forget to sign up for our blog post updates.  For more info about On The Road Kiwis, please read our About Us page

Please follow and like us: