Mar 30, 2008

Watch This Space

The third (1975) Christchurch Working Men's Club premises on Oxford Terrace adjoins the entrance to the Farmers car park and is adjacent to the 1983 Central Library. A decade ago a Dunedin group proposed building a sixteen storey office block on the site, but a market didn't eventuate.

An announcement is now anticipated that the fifth building on this site will be a residential tower development.

Replacing William K. Wilson's Plumber's shop, the second building was the late 1860s Ladies Seminary school (below), subsequently the Working Men's Club from 1881.

See where these photographs were taken.

Christchurch's First House Site Located

Pioneer merchant George Gould, a carpenter and railway guard from England, made the wooden frames for his small cottage at Auckland, bringing them down to the nascent township by sea and up the Avon river to where the Barbadoes Street bridge now stands. He erected his home on the South side of Armagh Street about 50 metres East of Colombo Street in February, 1851.
Armagh Street in 1865 shows his house, with the deep veranda, in a Westerly view across Colombo Street. In the far distance can be seen the extant tower of the Provincial Council Buildings. To the far Left of the photograph is the newly completed brick residence and surgery of Dr William Deamer.

Gould's first home was eventually leased to Thomas Dillon who ran it as a kind of accommodation house and 'sporting mens' club. The old house is reputed to have been removed to Grove Road, Addington about 1900.

The same view of Armagh Street in 2007. The Gould house site (Left) is now occupied by a Photographic Studio in the Public Service Investment Society building. At the extreme Left is an alley, the city's oldest, which originally led to George Gould's commercial store rooms behind his house.

The exact position of the Gould house is verifiable by photographs taken from the watch tower of the 1876 Fire Station in Oxford Terrace (now the Plunket Society).

See a satellite image of where these photographs were taken

Mar 23, 2008

The Dallington Bridge

The Dallington bridge at the top end of Delamain Street (now part of Gloucester Street) was built in the early 1880s as a failed venture to establish a tramway route to New Brighton by Henry Joseph Campbell Jekyll (1843-1913) and Henry Philip Hill (1845-1924). On what had originally been Broome Farm they named the new suburb Dallington after a district of the town of Northampton, which is 98 kilometres North of the English capital London.

The Linwood-Avonside tramway, which ended at the bridge, ceased operation in 1936. Pictured below in 1930, the Butcher's premises to the Left is now a Fish & Chip shop.

The old bridge was demolished in 1953 after the Army erected a temporary Bailey bridge immediately up-stream. The existing bridge was completed the following year.

See a satellite image of where these photograhs were taken.

Forgotten Avonside

Thomas Turnbull Robson (1858-1940) was born aboard the Indiana nineteen days before the emigrant ship arrived at Lyttelton. His home survives on Avonside Drive opposite Shirley (top). Barely surviving is his derelict Wool Scouring works in Gailbraith Avenue (bottom).

Between the house and factory was a large paddock where his son Frank (Francis Henry) bred Reta Peter, winner of the New Zealand Cup in 1920 and 1921. Today the paddock is known as Sullivan Park.

After Thomas Robson's death the Government bought his estate, renaming the area, which had previously been known as Riversleigh, as the Robson Housing Block. His name is commemorated by Robson Avenue.

See a satellite image of where these photographs were taken.

Mar 16, 2008

The Canterbury Hall

The Eastern side of Manchester Street between Gloucester and Worcester Streets, 1900.

Originally built as the Canterbury Hall to celebrate the province's 50th jubilee, the building was gutted by fire in 1917.

The Christchurch City Council bought and refurbished the building in 1920, retaining the Oamaru and Mount Somers stone and brick frontage and creating an interior space of more than 3000 sq metres over two floors and a basement.

A comprehensive history of the building, which opens in a new window, can be viewed at the Christchurch City Libraries web site

Mar 15, 2008

Waiau Hotel

The Waiau Hotel in the Hurunui District was built in 1910 as a coaching inn on the route between Christchurch and Blenheim.

The ten bedroom hotel, now known as the Waiau Lodge, is currently for sale. The Real Estate Agent listing describes the historic hostelry as "totally restored to its former glory" ...

Mar 13, 2008

New Zealand's Oldest Shop?

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Long forgotten as such, this brick building survives as the city's second oldest commercial premises on the Eastern side of Colombo Street in the block between Gloucester and Armagh Streets.

Built in 1857, it was acquired by pioneer merchant George Gould two years later. Gould was the local agent for Burrow's Boot & Shoe factory of Cookham, the English hobnail boot manufacturer, and named his new premises Cookham House. His family lived above the shop from where they enjoyed an unobstructed Southerly view to Cathedral Square, which at that time was being levelled.

Gould prospered and moved on, the building became the expanded premises of the neighbouring Grocer Frank A. Cook. Later it would become a cafe and is now occupied by a Chemist on the ground floor, with Sergeant Pepper's Steakhouse above.

New Zealand's Oldest Bank

Long forgotten as such and hidden away behind the modern facade of a shoe shop in the Cashel Street part of the City Mall is the city's oldest commercial premises. Built of stuccoed brick in 1856, it was originally opened as an agency of the Lyttelton branch of the Union Bank of Australia (now the ANZ Bank), becoming a full branch two years later.

It would be a further five years before the Bank of New South Wales would open the city's second Bank on the other side of Cashel Street. But the Union Bank held the account of the Central Government and from this historic building all of the bank notes used in the city were issued.

By 1865 this block of Cashel Street, between High Street and Oxford Terrace, was the principal retail precinct of the early town (in 1900 it would be the first to have a sealed road surface). But by then the Bank had moved to new premises in Hereford Street, in the block between Oxford Terrace and Colombo Street that's still favoured by the Professions.

The old Bank building was subsequently occupied by an Umbrella maker until 1875 when Bootmaker James Logie acquired the premises. For the succeeding 133 years it was Shoe Store of the Logie family, but in 2009 the historic building was renovated as an Indian restaurant.

The steeply pitched tiled roof, with it's clerestory windows has been much altered, but the original line of the Eastern pitch remains. Apart from the street frontage much of the original brickwork remains intact.

See where these photographs were taken (a Google map opens in a new window).

Mar 12, 2008

New Zealand's First Railway Station

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Un-commemorated and long forgotten as such is the Madras Street site of the 1864 railway station, now occupied by the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.

The two upper images are Easterly views from Madras Street. The original site of the 1864-1867 railway station is readily verifiable by the chimney of Samuel Manning's 1855 Brewery at the corner of Ferry Road and Fitzgerald Avenue.

The lower Left photograph is a Westerly view across Madras Street from the roof of the engine shed. To the lower Right is a modern map of the Polytech campus with the position of the railway line indicated in red and the station in blue.

Christchurch Tramway Extension

The proposed route (in Red) would see the tramway turn from its present route and travel south from Worcester Boulevard along Oxford Terrace. It would then travel east through City Mall and continue along Cashel Street, before turning right into Manchester Street and heading south for one block.

The tramway would then loop back up High Street and continue through the High Street section of the City Mall before turning right into Colombo Street, running around the back of the Square and rejoining the current tram route behind the Anglican Cathedral.

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Mar 10, 2008

The Queen's Theatre

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Opened on the 31st of October 1912 by the Mayor of Christchurch, the city's first purpose built cinema occupies the Hereford Street site of the 1853 home of William Sefton Moorhouse.

Owned by the Melburnian theatrical impresario James F MacMahon, a competition to a name the cinema was held by The Press newspaper, with a first prize of five Guineas. Seating 934 patrons, films were shown continuously from 11 am to 11 pm.

McMahon had exhibited the first projected motion picture shown to a paying Christchurch audience in November 1896. His Salon Cinématographe in High Street near the Cashel Street intersection almost certainly screened the 1896 Melbourne Cup race on that occasion.

In 1929 the twenty-five year-old Royal Exchange building in Cathedral Square was refurbished as the Regent Theatre, thereby obliging McKenzie & Willis Ltd to find new premises. The furniture retailers acquired the Queen's Theatre, which closed on the 5th of January 1929.

In 1935 the former cinema underwent significant redevelopment. Although the original ceiling and the stairway to the Dress Circle were left intact, a fourth floor was added and the Neo-classic Hereford Street frontage (to the Right in the top Left image) was replaced with the surviving Art Deco facade.

The long, narrow building was subsequently refurbished and linked to the Colombo Street Kincaid building in the 1950s as the McKenzie & Willis Arcade. More recently acquired by the Auckland Savings Bank, the ground floor is partially occupied by a 24/7 convenience store.

In 2003 the Theatre and Film Department of the University of Canterbury took the vacant upper floors as teaching, rehearsal and performance space. Residential facilities for post-graduate students are also provided.

See the Queen's Theatre location

Podcast: Plains FM 1988-2008

Plains FM Volunteers in Cathedral Square, 1990

From the Madras Street campus of the New Zealand Broadcasting School - Christchurch's Community Access Radio Station celebrates twenty years on air.

Download a three minute mp3 podcast history of Plains FM 96.9 Plains FM history podcast.mp3

Listen to more Plains FM Podcasts (link opens in a new window)

Mar 8, 2008

McCahon at the Gallery

Considered one of the most influential modernists in the Australasian region, Colin John McCahon (1919-1987), was a member of the Christchurch art collective The Group.

His early figurative work of the 1940s and 1950s was dominated by images drawn from religious paintings, often set in the New Zealand landscape.

Along with Rita Angus and Toss Woollaston he is credited with introducing modern styles to New Zealand art in the early twentieth century.

Christchurch Art Gallery Podcasts

A brief history of public art in Christchurch - from the Canterbury Society of Arts, to the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, through to today's striking Christchurch Art Gallery.

Jenny Harper, Director of Christchurch Art Gallery, welcomes the listener to the Gallery and its collections.

Download Director's Welcome [MP3 450KB]

Photo by Alex Robinson

The history of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch's first public art museum, with quotes from art administrator and historian Warren Feeney, architect Edward Armstrong, former curator Neil Roberts and former directors Rodney Wilson and John Coley.

Download History of the Gallery [MP3 2.4MB]

The story behind the planning and building of Christchurch Art Gallery, including the controversy that surrounded this major community effort and quotes from former director Tony Preston, architect David Cole, sculptor Graham Bennett and Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Download Building the new Gallery [MP3 2.4MB]

Mar 7, 2008

Christchurch 1939

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A recent addition to the archive is this extremely rare aerial photograph of central Christchurch in early 1939.

A Southerly aspect from Salisbury Street, centered on Manchester Street, with Madras Street to the Left and Colombo Street to the Right.

The photograph is exactly dateable by the nearly completed Municipal Electricity Department building on the corner of Armagh and Manchester Streets and also by the partially constructed Miller's department store in Tuam Street (currently the Christchurch City Council Civic Chambers).

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Christchurch Police Stations 1873 & 1906

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Top Left: 1906 Police Station. Top far Right: 1873 Police Station

Bottom: Westerly panorama of Hereford Street West showing the building site of the 1973 Police Station at the Cambridge Terrace corner and the extant St Elmo Courts at the far Right.

A permanent, stone police station was built on Hereford Street in 1873 and first occupied in 1874. It consisted of two stone buildings separated by a yard with a lock-up situated back from the street (far Left in the lower image).

In 1906, in anticipation of the crowds expected to flock to the planned Exhibition, a new brick barracks and office building was built along the Hereford Street frontage, joining the two stone buildings.

Both the YMCA and the Eastern end of the building were demolished in 1968 to allow the new high-rise police station to be built on the corner of Hereford Street and Cambridge Terrace. After this building was completed in 1973, the rest of the old building was cleared away.

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Cathedral Square 1880-1970

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An elevated Westerly aspect of Cathedral Square, including Worcester Street and Chancery Lane in 1880, 1885 and 1970.

The empty building lot in the 1880 (top) image was the site of the 1851 house of the city Coroner and Photographer Dr Alfred Barker. Beyond, on the other side of Oxford Terrace, is the much extended Canterbury Association's original Land Office.

The centre image shows the newly completed AMP Society's offices, with the premises of Fletcher Humphries & Co, Wine & Spirit merchants to the Right in Chancery Lane.

Between 1925 & 1935 the AMP building acquired a fourth floor, and by 1970 Fletcher Humphries had become Aubrey's Nitespot, with the shop of Bell Television Hire on the ground floor.

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Christchurch 1947

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The South-west corner of Colombo at Cashel Street, February 1947. Ballantyne's department store just before the disastrous fire and the gutted shell being demolished.
Recent additions to the photographic archive

Mar 6, 2008

Waltham, Christchurch 1970

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Waltham Road at the intersection with Brougham Street about 1970.

Ross Honey's Butchery at Left with the Waltham Arms Hotel to the Right. Both would be demolished for the widening of Brougham Street. In the lower photograph construction of the Brougham Tavern can be seen in the background.

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Cathedral Square 1970

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Easterly aspect of Cathedral Square showing the 1898 Dalgety building, subsequently the site of the Millennium Hotel from 1976.

The upper photograph was taken on 22nd of July, 1970 and the photo of the bare site is dated 28th August of the same year.

Recent additions to the photographic archive.

Christchurch 1971

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Moorhouse Avenue, North side between Manchester and Madras Streets, 2nd of December, 1971.

A group of 1870-80s buildings, from Left at the corner of Manchester Street is the Inter-island Hotel (formerly the Terminus Hotel).

Next is the premises of Colonial Distributors Ltd, with the Bond Street Bag Company on the ground floor.

To the Right and below is a yet to be identified building in the process of demolition.

The site of these three buildings is now occupied by Cockram Motors, the Nissan dealership.

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Cultural Precinct

Worcester Street adjacent to Cathedral Square.

"The Southern Hemisphere's finest cultural precinct" Canterbury Television, February, 2008.

"It's hard for people who aren't familiar with our region to grasp just how much we have to offer ..." Christine Prince, chief executive, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism , 25 February, 2008.

Photos by Kate Criner, a visitor from Philadelphia, USA

Mar 5, 2008

Ozone Palace Demolition?

Isabella Huck's 1914 Ozone Palace private hotel and cafe at North New Brighton has been for sale since the beginning of March, 2008.

Listed as a "Beachfront Development Opportunity," the historic hotel was Canterbury's first invalid soldiers' home subsequent to the First World War.

See where these photographs were taken

Update: 1 September, 2008

We have received this email from a reader and acted up on it;

"I was down at Thompson Park yesterday afternoon and the kids down at the skate ramp informed me that 'the big blue house over the road' was empty and open. They took me for a look there - one of the side doors was apparently being held closed by a bunch of rubbish which the kids had moved...

I was wondering if it'd be worth getting in touch with the Real Estate Agency to get them to patch the place up - I'd hate to see it trashed or set fire to by some hoodrats."

Exploding Myths

The 720 ton Charlotte Jane at anchor off Cavendish Bay on the 16th of December, 1850.
One hundred and fifty seven years later the 116,000 ton Sapphire Princess moored in exactly the same position - now Cashin Quay.

First of the chartered ships to arrive at the port with emigrants, the Charlotte Jane, in spite of popular folklore, was not the first vessel to bring Canterbury Association emigrants to the new settlement. More than 120 Europeans were already living at Lyttelton, a significant number being "Canterbury Pilgrims" who had come to the new settlement via Wellington.

However, the foregoing didn't impede Charlotte Jane passengers from parading the streets of Christchurch in 1900, with banners declaring "We Were Here First."

That the same folklore continues to be promulgated as history in the current era provides a realistic indicator of the significant disparities that continue to exist between popularly received history and the actual historical record.

Little did 31 year old Alf Barker envisage the advent of the Sapphire Princess as he viewed his new home from Charlotte Jane's deck - no more than we can imagine the Canterbury of a century and half from now.

But what becomes "history" is often a matter of caprice and occasional serendipity - the small town gossip who leaned over the sailing ship's rail, that early Summer's morning, would take up photography as a hobby seven years later. And thus it was that Doctor Alfred Charles Barker would pass into history as the revered founder of our photographic record.

But wait there's more! Few New Zealanders would not be familiar with the Barker's range of Jams and Conserves, but how many know that if it weren't for the Charlotte Jane's Surgeon the Kiwi breakfast would be a somewhat poorer repast.

Mar 1, 2008

Canterbury Photo of the Year Nomination

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Abandoned looms in the derelict Feltex carpet factory at Upper Riccarton, Christchurch.

Canterbury Photographic Excellence 2008 Nomination.

Lyttelton Tunnel 1962-2008

The Heathcote, Christchurch entrance of the Lyttelton Tunnel in July, 1962 and January, 2008.

Opened in 1964, the tunnel slopes gently towards Lyttelton. Accordingly a vehicle allowed to coast the 1.9 kilometre length will arrive at the exit at the same speed at which it entered the tunnel.