397 Queens Drive, Windsor, Windsor, Invercargill City


Rockhaven is the residence built for fabled Invercargill Inventor Ernest Godward. The flamboyant overachiever was noted in a huge variety of fields, spending a good part of his career in the United States, leaving his wife Marguerita and ten children here in Invercargill, housed in this extravagant and fashionable home.

The inventor's life reads so like a novel that it has indeed sparked a novel, The Collector's Dream, by Pierre Furlan, who penned it as a Writer in Residence at Randell Cottage and published in 2010. The official biography of Godward has been written by one of his grandaughters, Shirley Walker of Nelson.

Godward, was born in London and ran away to sea as a young teen, then again later after an apprenticeship in mechanics. After landing in Dunedin, a rich and varied career saw him invent a series of innovations, starting with the wavy hairpin, and climaxing with the success of one of his 72 economising carburetors for motor vehicles. These he took to the USA, creating a great fortune, most of which lasted until the crash of 1929, but saw him recognised as a world leader in the understanding of combustion engines. His cycle and car importing businesses based in Invercargill had greater longevity.

The inventor was also a self-made artist, musician and a sportsman, painting portraits and landscapes, acting and singing in local productions,and running, swimming, rowing, boxing and winning cycling races. He took to politics when at home in Invercargill, as a representative on a local board. Other fascinating chapters in Furlan's book and Shirley Walker's Biography include his witnessing "The Coldstream Shooting", and other incredible feats of sport and adventure. Even aged 69 years, he was reported to have beaten all comers at an onboard skipping race on The SS Mongolia, returning him to Invercargill, dropping dead immediately afterward.

Rockhaven outlasted the pioneering inventor and his family, thanks to it's stone construction. Designed in 1905 by Invercargill architect, Peter Walker, to Godward's specifications, and very American ambitions, construction took place soon after, mainly using bluestone quarried from Green Island, near Dunedin.

Godward wanted the house to resemble the grand 'Queen Anne' style homes of New York, therefore ordered a variety of rooflines, a tower, and even pressed metal ceilings which he personally imported from the USA, although one ceiling he is reported to have painted himself.

Now Heritage Registered, Rockhaven is in private ownership, but still can be seen from the road, and the garage where much of the inventing took place is said to still stand in the garden.

Image Credit: Google Maps

The Collectors Dream



Nearby this Place


Featured Nearby

You May Also Like

Southland Boys High School
Southland Boys High School

Windsor, Invercargill City

0.3 km 1

Queen's Park Golf Club
Queen's Park Golf Club

Lorneville-Gladstone, Invercargill City

0.7 km 1

Queens Park
Queens Park

Avenal, Invercargill City

1.1 km 1

Queens Park Golf Course
Queens Park Golf Course

Invercargill, Other

1.1 km