Sound: Parliament buildings in the 19th century

Hear Francis Fisher, Member of Parliament between 1905 and 1914, reminisce about the buildings in the 19th century.

Francis Fisher saw the grounds transformed from 'native bush' to 'grass, gravel and concrete' under Premier Seddon.


I lived in Hill Street, where I was born in 1877 within a biscuit throw of Parliament. What was the old Wellington Provincial Building stood on the site where now stands the General Assembly Library. In front of the old Provincial Building, when I was a lad, stood an ugly square building, which was known as the public works carpentry shop. Here, all repairs to chairs, desks, cupboards and so forth from the various government departments were sent for repairs. Frequently this furniture hospital looked like an old junk shop and a very unsightly pile to stand patch in front of the small but dignified and historic wing of Parliament House.

Between this hideosity and the corner of Molesworth Street stood a small fire brigade station, and from that small edifice to the corner was the backyard of the custodian of the parliamentary grounds, a Mr Lietham. The front grounds of Parliament House, apart from the buildings already mentioned, were exceedingly attractive, being laid out in lawns and areas of native trees. Under the native trees a variety of ferns grew in abundance; thus nature had provided a lovely foreground for our Parliament. But then the vandals came and swept all before them. So we lost our lovely little patch of native bush and our beautiful ferns and had to submit to the new era of grass, gravel and concrete.

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