Ettrick Cottage was moved to Paterson Street from 7 Austin Street in 1994 amidst great controversy and as a result of the illegal activities of a developer.
Built of heart rimu and originally a basic rectangle, this was one of the first houses in Austin Street, dating from somewhere between 1871-1874. In 1874 it was sold by its builder-owner, Mr Storey to Samuel Atkins. The double gable “U” shaped extension was probably built some time in the very early 1880‟s.
Samuel Atkins was a former sergeant in the Seaforth Highlanders. He had been much decorated for his military services, including receiving The Persian Medal and the Indian Mutiny Bar (for Defence of Lucknow). He was a nightwatchman during his working life in Wellington and was for many years an identity about town. Sam’s wife, Marion, was born
about 50 miles from Ettrick Forest in Scotland. Ettrick Forest was also associated with a well-known Scottish poet and writer, so this is probably why they named their cottage, Ettrick.
In 1901 he was presented to the Duke of York during the world tour of the Duke and Duchess and congratulated on his splendid military record. That year, when the Seaforth Highlanders visited Wellington, it was reported: “Sam Atkins has been looking forward, with all the zeal and anxiety of a bride for her wedding day, to the coming of the troops, and from an early hour on Saturday he strutted the town dressed, like Hooligan, in “his best suit o’ clothes”. The uniform was resplendent in its newness and cast something of a reflection upon those of the Seaforths at the head of whom Sam proudly strode. But not for long did he keep it up – the pace was too much for the old man, who found he was not so young as he used to be”. Sam was 77 at the time.
He also attended a reception for decorated war veterans held by Lord Kitchener during his visit to New Zealand in 1910.
Samuel died in 1917 at the age of 93 and engraved on his headstone in Karori Cemetery was “Hold the Fort”. One of his unmarried daughters, Marion, lived on in Ettrick cottage until she died in 1945. Another daughter, Alice, who had run a flourishing dress-making business, died in 1955 and was the last of the Atkins family to live at 7 Austin Street. This home, therefore, was in the Atkins family for 81 years.