Nails and Christchurch

On Tuesday 4 May at 7.30 Christchurch City Libraries will be hosting a speaker with a rather different topic.  All interested members of the public are invited to attend.

Nails and Christchurch

The common nail is a largely ignored part of our architectural history.
Tiny in size compared to the final building, nails have been critical to the development of timber construction since the European settlement of New Zealand. The talk will review the development of the use of nails in New Zealand from the 1770s and the local manufacture. It will explore the many facets of nails – sex, warfare, capitalism, industrial development and of course technology.

Christchurch played a central role in the early days of New Zealand nail manufacture. Lead head nail manufacturers of note included from the late 1880s include father and son Joseph and Philip Venables, business partners Alfred Robb and William Stokes and inventor John Sinclair. The talk will also explore Horace Thompson’s 1897 ‘split nail’, which did not progress through early trials into production, but provides an example of innovation in action.

Nigel Isaacs is a Teaching and Research Fellow at the School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington where he teaches a class on the history of building technology. He writes regular articles on the history of building technology in New Zealand which have been broadcast in 3 series on Radio NZ National’s Sunday night programme ‘Sounds Historical’


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