Stabilisation and conservation works are being carried out to Penfold’s Cob Cottage in Ferrymead so the historic cob structure can be viewed by the public.
The works are expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.
Originally constructed of sod blocks, the cottage was badly damaged in the earthquakes. After a public consultation in 2018(external link), the Council supported the proposed retention of the existing sod and cob material, together with stabilisation works and the installation of a glass enclosure. This will allow people to view the cob structure and building as a whole.
Listed in the Christchurch District Plan as a significant heritage item, the cottage has architectural and aesthetic significance as 'a rare Christchurch example of an earth building, a method of construction once used quite extensively in Canterbury and Marlborough'. Some original sod courses remain at the lower levels.
James Penfold built the cottage in 1870 using sod blocks and lived there with his family until about 1878.
From 1940 to 1944, the cottage was largely rebuilt by Ernest Parish, with help from the Mt Pleasant Burgess’s Association and the Mount Pleasant Boating Club. Unable to find suitable sods, Ernest Parish reconstructed the building in cob.
In December 1944, 7000 people attended the reopening of the cottage, a memorial to the Canterbury Pioneers.
Two years later Scott Brothers Ltd gave the cottage and its surroundings to Christchurch City Council for ‘the health, amusement and instruction of the public’.
Further repairs to the cottage were carried out in the 1980s (cob) and 1990s (clay blocks).