Historic factory may live on

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If a West Otago interest group achieves its goal, the historical but unsafe 105-year-old Kelso Dairy Factory will be tidied up so it can last for another century.

Discussions are under way between the West Otago Community Board and the West Otago Vintage Club about the future use of the long-abandoned factory.

Community board chairwoman Barbara Hanna said it was exciting to see the interest shown by the group in preserving the local historical site, which had fallen into disrepair in recent years.

Clutha district councillor and West Otago ward representative John Herbert said he had been talking with a life member of the West Otago Vintage Club, Charlie Davis (79), and was happy to inform the board that the club was keen to be involved in any discussions about the future of the building.

He said the club was interested in protecting the building.

“They need to sort out the site’s safety issues first and then move ahead with plans to remove the later addition lean-to, secure doors and windows to stop stock from entering, replace roofing iron and generally tidy up the area.

“There were external financing options for the club and they were investigating them.”

He asked the community board to discuss options with the club and this may include signage to promote the site’s history and West Otago dairying.

Mr Herbert’s great-great-uncle James Herbert built the factory in 1913. A recent Otago Daily Times report he said he believed most local residents would favour preserving the building, given it could be done “with minimal cost”.

“It’s a local landmark and testament to the rich history of the area. But we need to get the message out there that its future isn’t guaranteed,” he said.

Clutha District Council service delivery group manager Jules Witt said the council was keen to sit down with Mr Davis and his group and help them navigate the resource consent process.

The building had no historical listing but was protected under the district plan and consent would be needed for any work to be done on it.

Mr Davis said his group was investigating funding options for the site work.

“Many of our members had family working there, so we want to make sure it stays there.

“The local farmer whose land is around the site is happy for us to protect the building from stock and fix it up so that it is not derelict or unsafe.”

He said they would secure the doors, close windows and fix the holes in the roof.

“We would like the farmer to keep grazing his stock there, right up to the walls, as it keeps the weeds down.”

Mr Davis added that if the board and council could help them with the resource processes then maybe they could fix it to last another 100 years.