$60,000 to reinstate historic Port Chalmers timeball

The timeball circa 1905. Photo: Te Papa
The timeball circa 1905. Photo: Te Papa
Reinstating the historic timeball that once operated at Port Chalmers is expected to cost about $60,000, the society pushing the project says.

Norman Ledgerwood
Norman Ledgerwood

The Port Chalmers Historical Society has been working on a plan to restore a timeball — which operated from the flagstaff overlooking the township from 1867 — for more than a year.

The timeball once enabled shipmasters to set their chronometers and later warned sailors of rough weather at Taiaroa Head.

Society curator Norman Ledgerwood wrote to the West Harbour Community Board to update it on the project’s progress.

In the letter, he said the estimated cost of the project was $60,000, which included $10,000 to be held back for future maintenance.

Port Otago had already committed $10,000 towards the project, and the society was planning a public fundraising campaign to secure the rest, he said.

‘‘We are confident we will be able to raise the necessary funding as we have already had informal discussions with some charitable trusts.

‘‘Although some financial assistance from the council and community board would be welcome and appreciated, we do not ask for more than background and moral support.’’

The push to reinstate the timeball aimed to restore some ‘‘important maritime history’’ to Port Chalmers, he said.

The timeball would join just 13 others operating around the world, including just one other in New Zealand, at Lyttelton, he said.

Once up and running, it would be dropped daily at 1pm, beginning on June 1, 2020 — the 153rd anniversary of its first operation.

The society even planned to invite the Prime Minister to officiate at the ceremony, he said.

The society’s update would be discussed at a board meeting later today.


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