Dry docks (or graving docks) were as much status symbols as practical ventures in colonial New Zealand. Every major port wanted one. Designed by harbour board engineer C. Napier Bell, Lyttelton’s graving dock was built of masonry and concrete. It was opened on 3 January 1883 when the gaily decorated Hurunui – ‘the very perfection of neatness and order’ – sailed in, breaking a blue ribbon. Thirty speeches followed. Now a registered historic place, Lyttelton’s graving dock still repairs ships.
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