This year the Christchurch City Council will be featuring the beautifully restored Pavitt Cottage as part of their Heritage Festival on Sunday 25th October.
The Pavitts arrived on Banks Peninsula unexpectedly in 1849 on the ill-fated Monarch. The entrepreneurial family teamed up with architect Samuel Farr to design and construct the first waterwheel powered sawmill in Canterbury in the heavily wooded Robinsons Bay. The mill itself is gone, as are the primordial native trees, but their cottage remains as a symbol of pioneering culture and a stark reminder that the industrial scale deforestation of Banks Peninsula began here.
In 2000 the cottage was acquired by John Fernyhough, a Pavitt descendant, who faithfully restored it and left it in trust for all the family descendants to enjoy.
Many other Canterbury families trace their identity back to this site as the mill attracted large numbers of workers to the area. A descendant of the Williams family (later owners of the mill and cottage) recently donated a painting of the mill site and this now hangs in pride of place over the mantelpiece in the parlour, bringing the history to life.
Robinsons Bay today is a place of peace and beauty with a strong community proud of its heritage. The Pavitt Cottage is the focal point and local community members will welcome you with a grand spread of country home-baking, tea and coffee for you to enjoy in the garden after your tour.
You can then continue exploring this picturesque valley with a wander through the enchanting but little-known Robinsons Bay School Reserve featuring a 15 minute loop historic trail including a re-created pit saw, totara milking bail and cocksfoot shed. The reserve has been planted by the community and is now a young native forest, itself a symbol of how attitudes have changed and creating a legacy for future generations.
Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased on Eventfinda.