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1-3 The Square, 20-22 Coleman Place - ANZ Bank Chambers

ANZ-Bank -Chambers

Building Details

Building Name: ANZ Bank Chambers (former Union Banks of Australia)
Address: 1-3 The Square & 20-22 Coleman Place
Construction date: 1912
Architect:  Penty & Lawrence
Architectural style: Italianate
Builder: Sollitt Bros
District Plan Category: 2
Building number: 37   
Heritage NZ Category: 2 

Physical and Social History 

This building served Palmerston North as a bank for eighty years, its predecessor having been on the site a further three decades. Its upstairs office space also served for many years as the office of the New Zealand Sheep owners' Acknowledgment of Debt to British Seamen Fund, the organisation that founded Flock House in the Rangitikei.

Prior History
CT WN24/50 was issued to Sylvester Coleman, a commission agent, in 1881, and it is he after whom this location was named. However, the site has an added significance in that in 1866 it had previously been the site of Palmerston North's first survey office. On the same date the CT was issued to Coleman, it was also transferred on to the Union Bank of Australia Ltd.

The main part of the bank was built around 1881, while the Coleman Place frontage had been added in 1894, when the whole place was enlarged.[2] The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol 1, published in 1897, recorded that at the time, the Palmerston North branch was the only one between Auckland and Wellington.[3]

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol 6, published in 1908[4], recorded that The Union Bank of Australia, Limited, has been represented in Palmerston North since the year 1881. The premises occupy a site at the corner of the Square and Broad Street (sic), and contain a banking chamber, the manager's room, and a residence. Mr John L Barnicoat, who has been manager of the Palmerston North branch of the Union Bank since 1893, is supported by a strong staff of officers.

However, the building's days were clearly numbered as on 24 September 1908, the Manawatu Evening Standard reported that:  Another of Palmerston's historic buildings is to give place before the advancement of the district to a more up-to-date and imposing structure. The Union Bank of Australia was erected when Palmerston was only a back-blocks township, 26 years ago. It has been enlarged several times since, in 1894 its' also being just about doubled to cope with the increasing business of the district. Now the directors have decided to remove the present building altogether and erect a handsome, up-to-date, two-storey brick building on the present site. The new building will combine the banking chamber and manager's residence, and will be a great deal larger than the present structure. Mr Chatfield, the architect for the bank's new head offices, which are at present being erected in Wellington, is the architect for the Palmerston building also, and was in town this week with a sketch plan of the building. One or two alterations are to be made to it, and then tenders will be called almost immediately.[5]

However, the new building did not arrive as quickly as anticipated, and so, in the early hours of 16 September 1910, it was the 1881 building that was substantially destroyed by fire. The fire had begun in the kitchen at the back of the property, while the manager, Mr Barnicoat, and his family, were asleep in their apartment within the building. They were considered lucky to have escaped. It was believed that had there been any wind that night, that another of Palmerston North's big fires would have occurred. As it was, the neighbouring Bon Marche building was briefly set alight, but this was extinguished quickly.

Mr Barnicoat had escaped the fire and then gone back inside looking for his two small sons, initially believed to be trapped inside, and had almost suffocated in the smoke and heat. However, they had already escaped and gone to the fire station to get help. Both Mr and Mrs Barnicoat were scorched and their hair and eyebrows singed by the fire.

When the bank safe was opened, it transpired that only smoke damage had occurred. The bank reopened at 10am on the morning of the fire in the newly vacated former fire brigade building on the opposite side of Coleman Place (the fire brigade had just moved to new premises in Cuba Street). The destroyed bank building had been insured for £1,475.[6]

The Building

Despite the optimism of 1908, it was two years after the 1910 fire before the old bank's replacement was complete. The Manawatu Evening Standard finally announced the near completion of the new bank on 19 August 1912, with the heading 'New Banking House for Union Bank of Australia':  The local branch of the Bank of Australia Ltd, will, in the course of but a few weeks, be installed in the new premises which have been erected for it on the site of the old building, at the corner of the Square and Coleman Place. The new building was rendered necessary by the partial destruction of the old premises by fire, and is a handsome addition to the architecture of the town. These premises are practically completed, and the manager hopes to be able to move into them from the temporary premises towards the middle of next month. The new building is constructed of brick, and is well-finished throughout. Not only has it been constructed on solid lines, but with a view to the future expansion of business as the population of the town and district increases. In order to be prepared for this expansion, the banking chamber is unusually large for a town of this size, and the convenience will, no doubt, be appreciated by the clients of the bank. It is also encouraging to know that banking authorities consider Palmerston's future prosperity will require such accommodation.

The banking chamber is supported by four pillars, 16ft high, each pillar consisting of a steel cylinder, reinforced with concrete. The ceilings throughout the building are finished with asbestos sheets, which, in addition to their particularly neat finish, increase the security against fire. The counters and all the woodwork in this room are of beautiful cedar wood, imported from New South Wales. The brick walls are finished with cement, suitably tinted.

In addition to the banking rooms, there is on the ground floor a spacious dining room, with kitchen and other well-appointed annexes. The residential portion is, however, chiefly upstairs. Access is gained to the residence by a handsome entrance from Coleman Place. The rooms are all well lighted, the windows being arranged to catch some, at least, of each day's sun for every room. Particularly happy is the idea of the balcony in a quiet, secluded portion of the building, fronting Coleman Place.

The fire grates in the banking chamber and some of the other rooms are of the Bell pattern, a grate which claims to throw out the maximum of heat from a minimum of fuel.

The dimensions of the strong room are 12ft square. It is, of course, entirely new. An interesting feature associated with it is the electric connection with the manager's bedroom. Thus a burglar tampering with the strong room door unconsciously arouses the manager by ringing an electric bell in his room.

Off the banking chamber is a commodious and well-finished office for the use of the manager of the Bank.

The temporary building at the rear of the new bank will be removed shortly, and a garden made on the ground it occupies.

The new building cost about £6000. The builders were Messrs Sollitt Bros, and the principal sub-contractors were Messrs Osgood and Hancock (painters and decorators), Withers and Thompson (plumbers) and C Emney (plasterers), of Wellington. The architects were Messrs Penty and Lawrence, of Wellington. The work was supervised on behalf of the bank by Mr C Colquhoun, clerk of the works, who has acted in that capacity for many important buildings in Wellington, including the Arcadia and Windsor Hotels.

Photo BC7 in the photographic collection at the PN City Library, shows the near complete building, with the lower scaffolding still in place and about 25 men posing at ground level and also high on the scaffolding. Signs at ground level name some of the businesses involved in the building's construction. These include the names of the architects, builders, painters, and the supplier of Golden Bay cement used to build it (Arthur Hopwood). Photo St10, taken between 1912 and 1915, shows five upstairs windows overlooking Coleman Place, along with the single storey section with the balcony on top.

The original plans were not located during this study, however, in October 1925 the Union Bank applied to alter the building.[7] The resulting plans show what existed prior to that time. They show that the original banking chamber took up about two-thirds of the bank portion of the ground floor, with the remainder being the manager's office, the strong room, two toilets and a stationery cupboard. The single storey part at the back of the building contained the dining room, kitchen, toilet, washhouse, etc. The entrance to the upstairs accommodation was via the door on Coleman Place. There does not appear to have been direct internal access between the bank and the accommodation. The upstairs area consisted of the drawing room and six bedrooms, along with the bathroom, toilet and linen cupboard. The drawing room and four of the bedrooms had fireplaces, while there was one in the banking chamber and another in the manager's office. The balcony was accessed from a door part way up the main staircase. The staircase was inside a block protruding from the centre-back of the building.

The PNCC Building Permit Register records that the October 1925 alterations were valued at £4,962.[8]  The architectural firm was Swan Lawrence & Swan, which was essentially the same firm that originally designed the building. The plans show that the second floor was then added to the previously single storey portion, and that another two-storey segment was added to the back of the building. These alterations transformed the upstairs area (including the new portion) into thirteen offices, an officer's sitting room, and a side room that was only accessed from the officer's sitting room (formerly the residence's bathroom etc). This might have been used as a bedroom, as it has a wardrobe. This room was sealed off from the other first floor offices and appears to have been used by the bank staff via new stairs from the bank area. A small bathroom and a toilet were also fitted into what was later described as a mezzanine floor, which was above the men's two toilets, but below the first floor. The downstairs area, previously part of the residence, became Shop No 2, while the ground floor part of the new extension became Shop No 1. Shop 2 was narrower than its neighbour, but was also longer due to the two toilets (one fore each shop) being behind Shop 1.[9]

In March 1956, the same architectural firm, now called Lawrence & Swan (Francis H Swan also being named separately), designed further additions to the building. They included installing a new symbol above the main (corner) door into the banking chamber. By this time, a second toilet - for the female staff - and their cloakroom, had replaced the little bathroom on the mezzanine floor. On the ground floor, the stationery cupboard and the former site of the fuel bin became the men's cloakroom. The fireplaces were also removed at this time. These plans detail the tellers' desks and various other counters and fixtures - the teller desks increasing from three to four during these renovations. A PABX telephone system was also installed.

Most of the first floor was also altered. The pre-1956 area shows two dentists' surgeries and their x-ray room. Four small strongrooms were in one of the rooms, while there were three men's toilets and one for women. The alterations indicate that the bank was taking over more of the first floor, including removing walls to make it open plan. Meanwhile, the dentists' rooms were being compressed. The women were getting a former office as a restroom (alongside their toilet), while another office was converted to a staff lunch room. A storage room was also constructed in the roof space. Three offices (above the shops) remained untouched.[10]

The Union Bank of Australia Ltd
The Union Bank of Australia's entry in the 1937 book From Swamp to City, recorded that the bank had been formed in 1837 and that it commenced business in New Zealand in 1840. The article added that John L Barnicoat[11] had managed the bank from 1893 to 1919, and that in 1937, the bank's Centenary Year, the Palmerston North bank manager was JB Stewart. The 1933 Stones Directory had also listed James M Saunders as the manager, while Norman Gibb Brown was the bank clerk.

A brief history of the ANZ National Bank is published on the Wikipedia website. This states that the Union Bank of Australia was a British bank with its head office in London. It had agreed with the New Zealand Company to accompany settlers to New Zealand to provide them with banking services. (The Union Bank of Australia) opened a branch in Petone, across the harbor from Wellington, where it transferred the branch shortly thereafter. Between 1840 and 1847 the Union Bank issued its own bank notes for circulation in New Zealand. These were initially issued under British law until 1844 when the New Zealand Governor signed an ordinance allowing the Bank to issue bank notes but required that these be a minimum of 1 pound and redeemable at demand for gold or silver.[12]

In 1864, the Bank of Australasia, another London-based bank, was established, and this also had a branch in Palmerston North at an early stage. This was on the site of the present main ANZ bank in The Square. In 1951, the Bank of Australasia and the Union Bank of Australia merged to form the ANZ Bank. The result was that for almost four decades, that the ANZ had branches on both sides of The Square.

CT WN24/50 records that in 1914, Lot 2 DP 3075 was transferred to CM Ross Co Ltd, this being a strip about 32½ feet wide between the bank and CM Ross' buildings, about where the path to the main doors of the library now is. A new CT (WN229/280) was issued the same year. In 1925, the CM Ross Co Ltd, bought some more of the bank's land, this marking the beginnings of the neighbouring Norfolk Building, and the party wall between the two buildings appeared on the CT at the same time.

The present CT, WN357/24 dated 10 February 1926, was then issued to the Union Bank of Australia Ltd. This shows the (belated) transfer of the property to Australia and New Zealand Bank Ltd in 1956, and then the transfer of the property from ANZ Properties (NZ) Ltd, to Coleman Court Ltd in 1981. It was then transferred to the present owner, Ake Ake Investments Ltd in 2002.

In 1981, the ANZ vacated its original banking chamber and moved to the location that until then had been the two shops facing Coleman Place. The resulting alterations saw the entrance to Shop 1 sealed over with a large window, while Shop 2 received an aluminium sliding door. The building was also sold in the course of this process.[13] The new owner converted the former banking chamber into two shops facing The Square. The lower façade was also adapted to accommodate this change. The permit for the present verandah was issued on 24 February 1981. Professional offices were also established upstairs - although clearly professional tenants had occupied some of these offices over many years.

A Manawatu Evening Standard article announced the completion of this work, by architect Milton G Brogden, on 24 February 1981. This said that the new tenants were the Carousel Coffee Shoppe and Carousel Fashions, and that a special feature was a revolving turntable window display area for displaying clothing. This special window protruded from one of the window spaces, but is now long gone - possibly in 1994 alterations.[14]

The Manawatu Evening Standard reported that the ANZ's Coleman Place branch was to close in March 1992, with one person being made redundant. That ended a banking relationship with this site that had lasted 111 years.[15]

In 1994, the former clothing shop was converted to Oscar's Wine Bar, with the former strongroom having sections cut from it to create a storeroom for the bar. Meanwhile the former manager's office became the male, female and disabled toilets.[16] This shop is now The Stunned Mullet.

New Zealand Sheep owners' Acknowledgment of Debt to British Seamen Fund
The upstairs office space included the Palmerston North office of the New Zealand Sheep owners' Acknowledgment of Debt to British Seamen Fund for at least thirty years (the timeframe covered by the Wises Directories consulted). This is the organisation that began and operated the very well known 7,000 acre Flock House property at Parewanui in the Rangitikei.

The fund was the result of the efforts of Rangitikei farmer and politician, Edward Newman, and his biography in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography records that he: persuaded more that 2,600 woolgrowers, owning some six million sheep, to donate £237,000 to the New Zealand Sheep owners' Acknowledgment of Debt to British Seamen Fund. Its board of trustees, which Newman chaired from 1920 until his death in 1946, gave immediate relief grants to sailors' families, and in 1923 decided to bring British seamen's sons to New Zealand for farm training. The trustees purchased Flock House, Lynn McKelvie's homestead and 1,000-acre property at Parewanui, near Bulls, together with nearly 7,000 acres of neighbouring land. On 28 June 1924 the first draft of 25 teenaged boys arrived from Britain. Girls were accepted from 1925 at another training farm at Awapuni, Palmerston North. Between 1924 and 1937 the Flock House project brought 635 boys and 128 girls to New Zealand, teaching them farming and other skills, and assisting them to find jobs or to acquire their own farms. In 1937 the Labour government took over Flock House for its own farm cadet scheme.[17]

In 1935, The NZ Railways Magazine published an extensive article on this fund and its project, entitled Call of Flock House - Good openings for Returned Soldiers' Sons, that includes a background. This stated that: Flock House is a monument of New Zealand sheep owners' gratitude to brave men of the British mercantile marine who lost their lives or were grievously wounded in their steadfast performance of duty on the perilous high seas during the Great War. Flock House, which arose from the New Zealand Sheep owners Acknowledgment of Debt to British Seamen Fund," was intended to provide facilities for new careers in the country districts of this Dominion for sons and daughters of British seamen. During the past ten years many of these young folk have passed satisfactorily through Flock House, but unhappily the depression of recent years has checked the ingress of British seamen's sons. However, it has left the way open for the entry of New Zealand soldiers' sons.[18]

The activities of the New Zealand Sheep owners Acknowledgment of Debt to British Seamen Fund organisation after the sale of Flock house in 1937, have not been researched. However, the Palmerston North connection took a sad turn on 24 April 1946 when the organisation's founder, Edward Newman, died in Palmerston North after being knocked down by a car.[19]

Main Bank area
Union Bank of Australia to 1912-1951. Then ANZ Bank 1951-1980

Corner shop (former bank area)
1981 - 1 The Square - Carousel Fashions
Phonebook 1995 - Cnr Square & Coleman - Oscar's Wine Bar
Now - 1 The Square - The Stunned Mullet

Shop nearest to Library building - former bank area
1981 - 2 The Square - Carousel Cafe
Now - 2 The Square - Bella's Café, 2 The Square

Union Bank Chambers/ANZ Bank Chambers - upstairs
Wises 1933 - Charles A Small, dentist; NZ Sheep owners Acknowledgement of Debt to British Seamen Fund office; Education Dept. Child Welfare Dept Branch.

Wises 1936-39 - Charles A Small, dentist; NZ Sheep owners Acknowledgement of Debt to British Seamen Fund office; Education Dept. Child Welfare Dept. Branch; Seafund Settlement Assn. (Panetapu) Ltd.  

Wises 1944 - Man Power Committee; WWSA; NZ Sheep owners Acknowledgement of Debt to British Seamen Fund office; Charles A Small, dentist

Wises 1950-51 - 24 Coleman Pl - NZ Sheep owners Acknowledgement of Debt to British Seamen Fund office; Shalfoon Bros Ltd, dental supplies; Charles A Small, dentist; LA Small, dentist

Wises 1953-54 - 24 Coleman Pl - Ms Whitton, duplicating services; NZ Sheep owners Acknowledgement of Debt to British Seamen Fund office; Shalfoon Bros Ltd, dental supplies; Charles A Small, dentist; LA Small, dentist; Arthur, R Perry, accountant (Now called ANZ Bank Chambers)

Wises 1957 - 24 Coleman Pl - EH Ferry, public accountant; PN Milk Venders' Assn.; NZ Sheep owners Acknowledgement of Debt to British Seamen Fund office; RM Moss, dentist; Charles A Small, dentist

Wises 1959-60 - 24 Coleman Pl - RM Moss, dentist; EH Ferry, public accountant; PN Milk Venders' Assn; NZ Sheep owners Acknowledgement of Debt to British Seamen Fund office

Now - 1 The Square - Ben Vanderkolk & Associates

Shop No 2 - nearest The Square - from 1925
Wises 1925 (?) - Mrs M Bevan, outfitter
Stones, 1933 - Miss Jean Sandman, milliner; Mrs Blanche Sandman, children's outfitter
Wises 1936-39 - Miss Jean Sandman, milliner
Wises 1944-60 - 22 Coleman Pl - Scotch Wool & Hosiery Shop (to 'Union Building' 1981)
1980-1992 (combined) - ANZ Bank (still gave address as corner of The Square & Coleman Place)
Now - 20 Coleman Pl - Soul Hairdressing 

Shop No 1 - nearest George Street - from 1925
Wises 1925 (?) - Henry H Blandford, furrier (in 'Union Building' across road same year)
Stones, 1933 - Mrs Catherine Anne Carey and Miss Florence Carey, gown specialists
Wises 1936 - Miss Margaret Young, dressmaker
Wises 1939 - Empty?
Wises 1944 - 20 Coleman Pl - Mrs J Cook, dressmaker
Wises 1950-60 - 20 Coleman Pl - Wilma Swanson Gowns
1980/81 - Converted to part of Shop No 2           

There is capacity for further research on this building including through contact with the ANZ Archives in Melbourne, which holds the archival material of the Union and ANZ Banks. Also, the history of 'New Zealand Sheep owners' Acknowledgment of Debt to British Seamen Fund', the Flock House property, and the activities of the Manpower Committee during World War Two, are relevant to this building.

Architectural Description 

A further contemporary newspaper description of the building in addition to that given above is the following.[20]

Union Bank building in the Square is now completed. The building is finished externally with red bricks, of local manufacture, and cement dressings. The roof is covered with grey asbestos slates. The interior of the banking chamber is finished in white plaster, with handsome cedar dadoes and fittings. The manager's room is also similarly finished. The banking chamber is 3ft 6in (sic) x 37ft x 16ft 6in high, the ceiling of this apartment is formed with asbestos sheets divided into panels, with bold ribs and bosses. At the rear of the banking chamber is a large bicycle room, off which are the stationery cupboard and lavatory accommodation for the staff. In addition to the banking premises proper is a very complete manager's residence, consisting of a dining room (18ft x 17ft), drawing room (24ft x 17ft 6in), and six bedrooms, in addition to large kitchen, scullery, washhouse, and the usual conveniences. The entrance to the Bank is on the corner of the Square and Coleman Place; a private entrance for the staff is provided from the former street, and the entrance to the residence is from the latter. The walls from the dining room, hall, staircase, and passage on the first floor are finished in panelled rimu oiled, and what is somewhat unusual in this part of the Dominion, every habitable room is provided with a fireplace fitted with (a) Bell grate. The contractors for the building were Messrs Sollitt Bros Ltd, of Palmerston North. The architects were Messrs. Penty and Lawrence, Wellington, and the Clerk of Works was Mr Campbell Colquohoun.[21]

The building is designed in the Italianate Palazzo style with the characteristic Classical detailing, symmetry, and proportions.

Statement of Significance 

This building has high local significance for historical and design values, representivity of building style and type andlevel of external authenticity. 

This building has high historic values in its association with the Union Bank of Australia (later the ANZ Bank), which has had continual occupation of this pivotal corner of The Square for over 110 years, contributing to a high level of continuity.

The building is historically associated with the regionally significant architectural firm Penty and Lawrence.

The building has high design values as an excellent representative commercial interpretation of the Italianate style, with Art Nouveau interior details.  As a successful design of the past, and located on a corner to the Square, the building has great urban design values as a landmark and gateway building to Coleman Place.

The building has high design values as one of a number of buildings in the Cuba Street, George Street, Coleman Place, and The Square area which, when considered collectively, form a coherent group of buildings of a similar age, general style, form, use, and scale.

The building has moderate external authenticity.

[1] PNCC Schedule of Buildings and Objects of Cultural Heritage Value

[2]Manawatu Evening Standard 16 September 1910 5(2)

[3]Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol 1 (Wellington, 1997), p1170

[4]Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol 6, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay, Wellington (Christchurch, 1908). Unnumbered page, 'Banking' section, Palmerston North.

[5]Manawatu Evening Standard 24 September 1908 4(6)

[6]Manawatu Evening Standard 16 September 1910 5(2)

[7] PNCC Building Permit Register, Vol 3, Series 4/13/1, p383, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library

[8] PNCC Building Permit Register, Vol 3, Series 4/13/1, p383, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library

[9] PNCC Building Permit file T25/1-3: Swan Lawrence & Swan August 1925 plans

[10] PNCC Building Permit file T25/1-3: Lawrence & Swan March 1956 plans

[11] The Manawatu Evening Standard published an extensive article on Mr Barnicoat at the time of his retirement from the local Union Bank, after a farewell to him in the Council Chambers, presided over by the Mayor, JA Nash MP Gifts were given to him, his wife, their two young daughters and their young son (he was said to have two sons during the 1910 fire). Barnicoat was replaced as manager by Mr A McBean. (MES 27/8/1919 5(2)

[13] PNCC Building Permit file T25/1-3 Milton G Brogden, Sept. 1980 plans

[14] Sources are notes on Photos BC180 (an MES photo 24/2/1981) and BC 200, photographic collection, PN City Library. Photo ST69 (MES photo 26/2/1973 re an upgrade to Coleman Place, shows the Scotch Wool Shop and other features of the building when still an ANZ branch).

[15]Manawatu Evening Standard 11 February 1992, p1

[16] PNCC Building Permit file T25/1-3 David Locke Designs, July 1994 plans

[17] Paul Melody, 'Newman, Edward 1858-1946' in The Dictionary of NZ Biography, Vol 4 (Wellington, 1998), pp.378-9.

[18] The NZ Railways Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 12 (1 March 1935), on the NZ Electronic Text Centre website:

[19] Paul Melody, 'Newman, Edward 1858-1946' in The Dictionary of NZ Biography, Vol 4 (Wellington, 1998), pp378-9.

[20]New Zealand Building Progress, December 1912, p222

[21] This copy located in Research file A175/175, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library