Community, Council

Nurses’ home gutted as demolition begins

The 93-year-old former nurses’ home at Wairau Hospital is being demolished. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Demolition work has begun on one of Blenheim’s oldest heritage buildings, spelling the end of an era for the local landmark.

Workers moved in on the derelict Wairau nurses’ home last week to start stripping out the interior.

Specialists will then be called in to remove a significant amount of potentially dangerous asbestos discovered inside the 93-year-old building.

The red-bricked facility in the grounds of Wairau Hospital has lain empty for almost six years, costing health bosses around $30,000 to keep the building fenced off.

Nelson Marlborough health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair says work is expected to be finished by March next year.

The building has sat vacant for several years. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
The building has sat vacant for several years. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Around $1million has been earmarked to pay for the work.

“Demotion of the Nurses Home at Wairau will take place over the next few months.

“Initially a soft demolition will occur – which is the removal of things like carpets, doors, toilets, pipes and roofing iron. After that the bigger machines come to site to deconstruct the larger elements,” he says.

Concerns over asbestos and seismic rating issues meant the former home would cost too much to address accessibility and fire safety problems.

Nelson Marlborough District Board staff decided demolition was ultimately a better use of public health funds.

Nelson Marlborough health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair. Photo: Supplied.
Nelson Marlborough health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair. Photo: Supplied.

The building’s foundation stone will be kept and installed with other historic foundation stones.

There is nothing else nothing else considered salvageable, Eric says.

“There are no other features considered worth saving on the house as the building was utilitarian in its original design.

“From it’s opening in 1926 the building provided a significant home and workplace for many staff who hold fond memories and interesting stories.”

There are several options being considered for the site when it is cleared.

The land could potentially be used for expansion in the future.

“A number of options are being considered but there is no urgency to determine future use.

“It is important to note that the location of the old nurses’ home was determined as the zone where any future expansion of Wairau Hospital would occur when the site master planning work was completed prior to the rebuild of the Wairau hospital 10 years ago.

“So, any use of the location will need to be cognisant of this master planning,” Eric says.

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