Jan 30, 2009

High Street 1860-2009


Three views of High Street, between Hereford and Cashel Streets in 1860, 1863 and 2009.

The middle image is an engraving that appeared in the London Illustrated News and depicts the 9th of July, 1863, a red letter day for Christchurch, the occasion being in honour of the marriage of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) to Alexandra, a princess of Denmark.

The town was en fete and a procession from Papanui Road at Bealey Avenue, passing through the cty streets to Ferry Road at Fitzgerald Avenue, was one of the main features of the event. But the engraving fails to show that the streets were inches deep in mud, owing to the torrential rain of the previous day. School children waded through mud along the whole of the route.

All trades were represented emblematically in the procession, and the Foresters and Oddfellows added a picturesque touch to the display. Commemorative trees were planted by the Misses Begley, Fitzgerald, Alport, Ollivier and Luck, and this ceremony was followed by a children's treat in William Barnard's Horse Repository in Cashel Street, where toys and refreshments were provided.

The Reverend James West Stack, of Kaiapoi, arranged for a cavalcade of Maori warriors from the Tuahiwi Pa to be included in the festivities, and they camped in Hagley Park. These Maori were specially entertained at the first Theatre Royal in Gloucester Street, Bishop Harper presiding and Canon Stack and Messrs John Ollivier, John Hall, Charles Obins Torlesse and William "Cabbage" Wilson acted as stewards. An address by Maka Makomako, the Ngai Tahu tribal chieftan, to Queen Victoria concluded in characteristic vein thus: "May God preserve you, O mother of the white and dark skinned races. May He keep you in joy and peace, and may your days equal those of the immortal Rehua, and may you see the happiness of your children's children and of the nations Jehovah has committed to your care."

The steeple in the earlier views, which was a Christchurch landmark visible from great distance, was that of the second Wesleyan Methodist church built on the High Street site in 1859. Superseded by the extant 1865 stone church in Durham Street, the old building lingered on into the mid 1880s as a Draper's shop.

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