12 November 2020
Demolition For Old High School Buildings
Two derelict wooden buildings, once part of the old Gore High School near the Mataura River, are to be demolished.
However, the names of former pupils from 1944, etched onto wooden boards, will be retained for posterity. Some of the pupils, such as W Gee, T Farry and C P Robertson, went on to become well known local identities. The wooden boards were discovered behind vandalised interior walls and will be handed to the Gore District Council’s heritage department for safe keeping.
The Council this week approved demolition of the buildings, amid fears of ongoing vandalism and decay. The two larger main brick buildings, occupied by the Gore Repertory Society, the Gore Karate Club, the Gore Boxing Club and local dance schools, are not affected.
The wooden buildings once served as the assembly hall and a classroom adjacent to a brick pump shed. The smaller classroom has gradually fallen into disrepair over the years, while the larger assembly hall has been used by various organisations and groups including the Gore Musical Theatre, the Southern Sound Foundry and the Jade School of Dance.
The hall has been unoccupied since 2018.
Facilities Administration Officer Neil Mair said the two buildings were not only unsightly, but pose significant health and safety risks to the public.
“Asbestos has been discovered in the broken cement board wall cladding in the small building and in the corrugated roof of the hall.
“Both buildings are structural unsound in places and their condition is getting worse by the day. They have been effectively abandoned.”
In January, the Council secured the hall’s external doors. This was followed by external fencing around the smaller building in September, when damage escalated and asbestos was found in the building.
However, locked doors haven’t deterred people from gaining access, if the alcohol, cigarettes, matches, candles and drug paraphernalia littering the floor inside was anything to go by, Mr Mair said.
“Due to the high fire risk in the hall we cannot totally board it up, as this would prevent people from quickly exiting should a fire break out. “Urgent action is needed.”
Councillors agreed and approved unbudgeted expenditure of $36,190 for the immediate demolition of the two buildings.
The former high school land and buildings were given to the then Gore Borough Council by the Crown in 1956 for use as a community centre.
The Gore Community Centre Incorporated was set up to look after the buildings and ensure their use by locals. Over the years the understanding of the terms of occupancy by the various clubs, especially in relation to maintenance has been variable, and the level of commitment both in effort and financial has often waned, Mr Mair said.
Late last year the Council was told by the three main active groups – repertory, boxing and karate – that they did not want to be responsible for the wooden buildings, he said.