Farmers Lane

FIND THESE STEPS – At No 85 The Terrace, and, from below, next to 172 Lambton Quay.

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You might hesitate from the unwelcoming prospect of Farmers ‘Lane’.

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Certainly the ugliest, most unfriendly, yet heavily used steps in the CBD is Farmers Lane. It is strictly utilitarian. And it occasionally smells.

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It’s tempting to include Tags for this one alone – Uninviting. Functional. Utterly charmless.

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Again, the local authority on Wellington Streets, Ms F L Irvine-Smith in Streets of My City, provides some background for this dreadful space.

The lane was in 1881 named York Lane for its then-neighbour York House, then it became Tokio Lane, which was, as Ms Irvine-Smith notes,

‘…very appropriate in the Great War, but equally inappropriate in the succeedig one. Wherefore, for diplomatic reasons, “Tokio Lane” was again discreetly changed (July 16th, 1942) to Farmers Lane.’

The neighbour was at the time of its construction the ‘loftiest’ building in Wellington, the 5 storey Wairarapa Farmers building, and also The New Zealand Farmer’s Union, from which Federated Farmers was created in 1945 . So, no, the lane isn’t named for the department store chain.

Joseph Romanos, in The Wellingtonian, reported in 2013 that from 1981 attempts were made to re-name the street for Tokyo, but instead an unnamed lane between Bolton Street to Clifton Terrace was given that name to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the establishment of the Embassy of Japan in Wellington, and the 50th anniversary of the Japan Society of Wellington.

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Some attempt was made, at some time, to offer a stream-line look while creating a sturdy hand rail.

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From the bottom, though, the view is dismal.

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The cold welcome from The Terrace

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