Author(s): Norman Ledgerwood
Following the discovery of gold in Otago in the early 1860's, the settlement of Dunedin quickly grew to become the largest and richest city in New Zealand. Architects came to the young city for they knew that gold meant not only mining, but growth and building. Amongst this inflow was the young Scottish born and educated architect, Robert Arthur Lawson, who, following several years working in the gold fields in Australia, entered and won a competition for the design of the First Presbyterian Church of Otago. This building was to become the most impressive of all 19th century churches in New Zealand. Lawson became more than a leading architect of the day, he was deeply involved in the management and affairs of his beloved Presbyterian Church. Over a period of just 28 years Lawson played a major role in the growth of Dunedin - taking it from a small undistinguished township to a city of remarkable and enduring Victorian architecture. The soaring spires and grand arches of Lawson's buildings captured public imagination throughout the province; his work survives in many towns in Otago and Southland. His most significant work - First Presbyterian Church of Otago, Knox Presbyterian Church, Larnach Castle, Otago Boys' High School, Dunedin Municipal Building - take their place amongst the country's most important historical buildings. In R A Lawson - Norman Ledgerwood celebrates the life and career of Lawson and examines the machinations of church and city leaders. Graham Warman's splendid photographs offer a unique tour of the living legacy of Lawson's most prominent buildings. This handsome volume is printed on fine art paper and is richly illustrated throughout with historical and contemporary photographs, as well as many of Lawson's architectural drawings.
Norman Ledgerwood studied at the University of Auckland School of Architecture after working as an architectural draughtsman with Dunedin architects, Salmond and Burt. It was at Salmond and Burt where he was first introduced to the Salmond collection of R A Lawson's drawings. He practised architecture in Dunedin for several years before travelling and working overseas. Norman Ledgerwood returned and resumed private practice in 1994. He has written several books including The Heart of a City: The Story of Dunedin's Octagon and Southern Architects: a History of the Southern Branch NZIA. Graham Warman (Photographer) is an award-winning freelance photographer based in Dunedin. He trained in London, learning from some of the world's best architectural photographers. His architectural images have helped win awards for many of his clients, and his photography has been featured in magazines as well as culinary and trail books, including the best-selling Fleur's Place and Trail: Riding the Otago Central Rail Trail.