Lyttelton’s Timeball Station Began Operation – 23rd December 1876

On 23 December 1876, Lyttelton’s Timeball Station began operation. A much loved icon, not many of us actually knew what it did

A Timeball Station helps sailors to check their marine chronometers to determine their longitude at sea.

It was back in 1870 when John Thomas Peacock – a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council – promoted the need of a Timeball Station for Lyttelton. It was a project that got quick approval.

Designed by Thomas Cane, it was completed in 1876 with additions done over the next two years. In 1983, when its heritage worth was being recognised, Lyttelton’s Timeball Station was the only surviving Timeball Station in New Zealand and one of five around the world that stilled worked.

The Timeball Station stopped working during the 4 September 2010 earthquake (7.1). With further damage done during the 22 February 2011 earthquake (6.3), it was decided that the station would be dismantled for public safety. Unfortunately the earthquake of 13 June 2011(6.3) caused the structure to collapse.

It will be rebuilt and fundraising is currently underway.

*image courtesy of The Alexander Turnbull Library – Lyttelton. Nancarrow, Mr :Photographs. Ref: 1/2-070305-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


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