May 30, 2009

A Unique Photographic Discovery

Streetscapes of Christchurch in 1868 are quite rare; there are only ten that can be positively identified to that specific year, with another four being designated as circa 1868. Accordingly, we were pleasantly surprised when our hawk-eyed scrutiny revealed that a pair of these 141 year-old photographs were taken within minutes of each other and almost certainly by the same photographer.

In that era hand held cameras were still a far off dream and the bulky equipment would have necessitated the use of a tripod as the exposure time for a sun lit landscape would then have been about five seconds. What can be ascertained by the digital interpolation of the photographs with variable transparency, is that although they were taken from the same vantage point, the camera's lens had been changed between the exposures, with the second photograph probably being taken with a portrait lens.

The pair of photographs, which would appear to be unique in the annals of early Christchurch photography, were taken from the intersection of Oxford Terrace and Cashel Streets (near to where the Bridge of Remembrance now stands). In these northerly aspects across Hereford to Worcester Street, the horse and cart to the Left has moved on in the second photograph and the man standing on the pavement to the Right has turned his back to the camera.

As yet unable to positively identify the photographer, our best guess would currently be Alfred Barker, that renowned gossip, city Coroner and pioneer of Christchurch photography. His enthusiasm for amateur photography would not only be in keeping with an experimentation of the same subject, but he was also said to have cut up window panes from his house (which is not quite visible in the photographs) in order to make more glass negatives.

In that era our common coins, from threepences to half-crowns, were made of 92.5% Silver. These could be dissolved in Nitric acid, with the resulting silver nitrate salts then mixed with Gelatine (derived from animal bones), which would then be used to coat one surface of the 165 by 216 millimetre glass plates.

In order to wash the exposed negatives, Dr Barker would leave them in a box in the Avon River overnight. His journal mentions the ongoing problem of their being stolen from the river during the hours of darkness. Perhaps these unattributed photographs were among his losses.

We've come a long way since the observation that silver tarnished in sunlight led to the invention of viable photography. Thanks to the architect Benjamin Mountfort, who taught photography to Alfred Barker, the photographic record of our city's development began within three years of its foundation.

The same view as it appears in 2009

May 29, 2009

Christchurch: Armagh Street 1860 - 1908 - 2008

Matching easterly views of Armagh Street from Oxford Terrace, across Colombo Street, towards Manchester Street, with Victoria Square to the Left. Not one building survived from one photograph to the next.

May 28, 2009

Foreign Reflections Upon New Zealand 1866-2009

Usually adhering to the cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words, this journal is not overly given to publishing verbose articles, however this particular instance is what we hope will be an exception of some interest to armchair historians and sociologists alike.

Published 143 years apart, these are two foreign perspectives upon New Zealand, the former having been lightly edited for the sake of modern comprehension.

Not being able to resist a temptation for pictorial inclusion, below is a pair of matching south-easterly views of Cathedral Square in the years of the articles' publication.

The Brisbane Courier

Tuesday, 14 August, 1866

Will Victoria be the foremost of Australian colonies in the future? Hitherto we have not permitted ourselves to doubt it, but then it is only quite lately that events in New Zealand have been calling attention to the extraordinary resources and prospects of that country. Long secluded, petty, and almost unnoticed, the settlements in those islands have suddenly sprung into a prominence and importance, which recalls the progress of our own early days. Communities are quickly built up in these regions of the far south, which were a hemisphere of mystery to the old world a few short years ago.

The turn of New Zealand is fast coming; within four or five years she has doubled her inhabitants. Population is multiplying, not only on the auriferous hillsides and terraces of Otago and Westland, but in the province of Auckland, furthest removed from the goldfields. Her bound into importance has been so sudden that those great islands have not been over named yet.

Countries as large as England and Scotland are only distinguished as the North and South Islands - the native appellations, unlike native ones in general, being in this instance too clumsy and long-winded for every day use; while as for the common term New Zealand, it cannot, of course, serve for the future, and, as inappropriate and absurd, its withdrawal was long since determined on.

If their present extraordinary advance be sustained, those islands will be soon well on the path to that magnificent destiny which, from their geographical position and great natural opportunities, was predicted for them by the thoughtful in England long before the first of our settlements were formed on their shores.

Perhaps it is in climate that New Zealand has the most striking advantage over the Australian continent. Being very mountainous, surrounded by the ocean, and far from any other land, there are no desert winds, and the moisture is perennial, and at all seasons reliable. The country is about the size of Great Britain, but the shape being much more elongated, there are greater varieties of temperature; for while the sugar cane, it is suspected, would grow in the peninsula of the extreme north, Antarctic breezes give to the south the winter of Britain. As a whole, however, the climate has been compared, not unjustly, to that of Great Britain in its vicissitudes at all seasons, and its influence on the soil and the human constitution. There is no country, therefore, better adapted for the transplantation of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic races, with a successful perpetuation of the original type.

It is entirely because of the difference of climate between New Zealand and the archipelagoes of the Pacific that the Maoris are so much more energetic, industrious, and masculine, than their soft kinsmen of the Sandwich and Society Islands (Hawaii & Tahiti). And the earth, like the air, seems fashioned for the development of a great nation. Noble harbors indent the coasts, great and deep rivers, hundreds of yards wide, hundreds of miles long, traverse the plains, the mountains are as high as those of Switzerland, the forests as majestic as in the tropics. And over so many degrees of latitude almost all useful plants, except those exclusively of the torrid zone, can find congenial growth-all cereals, from the hardy oat and rye which need the cold, to rice and maize which love the sun-all fruits and vegetables and their products, except, perhaps wine, for which the restlessness of the atmosphere may not be well suited. All minerals, from gold, the most artificially valuable, to iron and coal, the most useful, are found. Then the constant verdure affords unlimited scope for grazing, and the adjacent seas yield an abundance of fish.

Just now the South Island has the largest population because of the gold-fields, but in more permanent advantages the North is vastly superior. It has not its neighbour's severe winters, the mountain masses do not engross so much of its surface, the extent of fertile land is far greater, and the navigable rivers have longer courses. The North Island must be the principal seat of agriculture and of internal and external trade.

The two islands are rising into importance so fast, and their chief seats of population are so very distant from each other, that their formation into two colonies cannot be long postponed. The late removal of the capital to the town of Wellington on the dividing strait, as a central situation, was almost superfluous in the present aspect of affairs. It is not a central seat of Government that the islands are now asking for, but distinct governments, as they have distinct interests. The South has only a couple of native tribes, and no Maori wars, and grumbles at being taxed for the expense, while the North has no gold-fields or digging populations. Already, therefore, the chief communities in both quarters are agitating for separation. Our New Zealand correspondent mentions in his last letter that Auckland is to make common cause in the General Assembly, which has just met, with Otago and Canterbury on this subject, and these three provinces have twice and a half as many in habitants as the other six.

As for the grand old native war-like race, it is fast passing away without fulfilling the dream of Sydney Smith, of amalgamating with its supplanters. Diffenbach estimated the Maoris at 115,000 in the beginning of the present century. In 1861, an estimate based on a recent census returned them as 55,336. Now, says our correspondent, nobody believes that they exceed 40,000 souls. That which was probably their last war with us is virtually at an end. Most of our regular forces leaving, no longer necessary in New Zealand.

Subdued and hopeless, a fatal despair has seized upon the proud Maori that dull depression, that tedium vité which smites with the hand of death. Among the tribes which have submitted the mortality is described as astonishing. Without the presence of epidemic or other active cause, two hundred individuals of some small hapus near Raglan died off within two months. The Maori is departing over the rocks of Cape Reinga - the gateway of the land of spirits. Centuries hence, when millions of civilised, and therefore superior, men occupy the plains and mountains, the valor and the fate of the ancient owners of the land will be the theme of many a tradition, of many a poetic fancy. Time will lend its embellishment, and history will not forget the gallant aborigines of New Zealand.

by Graeme and Sarah, Manchester, U.K.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

3 million deer, 4.5 million people, 9 million cows, 50 million sheep and 90(!) million possums all wrapped up in one amazing country. New Zealand has been everything we'd hoped it was going to be and a whole lot more. The comments and complaints about the weather have proably been more frequent than merited and the climate has probably been not too far from expected overall. Lack of stiff upper lip on my part probably mixed with a propensity for boredom if I'm not fully occupied all the time! If I could go back and swap some warmer less changeable weather for the sheer isolation we've been able to enjoy, I'm not convinced it would be an easy decision. Not only the deserted roads and beaches we've had all to ourselves but the attractions too - as a perfect example only yesterday we spent the last 30 minutes of opening hours in Christchurch wildlife park all alone apart from the keepers. Surely high season would rob us of delights like that, and also of the unlimited access we've had to the very knowledgeable guides that seem to be there at every single trip, museum or attraction.

The country in general is a strange mix of cultural influences. The Maori are not just part of the country's rich history - Maori community is very much alive and kicking and the chiefs still play a major role in shaping NZ politics and the policies adopted both domestically and abroad. Popular culture - rather than the UK influence I expected there, are large signs of US-style influence abound. The way the cool kids dress, the structure and delivery of the content on TV, the diet and attitudes toward and marketing of food all have more than a doff of the cap to the States. Immigration is booming despite more recent tightening of controls and the proliferation of communities from SE Asia is easy to see in the larger cities and it's influence will surely only grow as a wave of NZ-born talented immigrants emerge from the academic system into the workforce.

The country is very proud of it's potential for self-sustenance with it's farming produce and also it's renewed Swiss-style approach to foreign policy. The residents of each town or city are fiercely proud of it in it's own right and the jokey rivalry with the opposing island is as clear to see as the slightly less friendly comments made at the expense of the Aussies.

Above all, there is a relaxed and friendly attitude wherever you go in NZ and coupled with the unrivaled natural beauty makes for a wonderful place to visit and one that surely can't come with anything less than a very strong recommendation to get here and see it for yourself whenever you can!

May 27, 2009

1875 Central Christchurch Building For Sale


The former premises of Mascot Finance Ltd are currently being offered for sale at an undisclosed price by the Perpetual Trust. Owing $68 million, the failed finance company was put into liquidation in March 2009.


Designed by William Bernett Armson (1834-1883) and built in 1875, with additions in 1893 and 1923, the Venetian Gothic style former Christchurch Library is situated on the the northwest corner of Cambridge Terrace and Hereford Street West. The detached Librarian's house is one of the few brick townhouses of the 1890s to survive within the inner city and complements the main building.

At one stage threatened with demolition, the renamed Library Chambers building and adjacent Librarian's house were extensively renovated for commercial use in 1984 by the Architect Don Donnithorne.


Right next door to the Christchurch City Council's next headquarters (above), with imaginative redevelopment, the historic buildings could prove an ideal opportunity for the next Central Library, for which it's understood that a budget of $83.5 milion has already been allocated.

Our proposal would be to enclose the group of buildings in a six storey steel and glass structure, similar to this recent design for a Dutch library.

Perhaps even cantilevered out to the Avon River bank, possibly along the lines of this Zaha Hadid design for the Antwerp Port Authority.

May 23, 2009

1929 Electric Railcar Service to Lyttelton

A 1929 English Electric Company's locomotive arriving at Lyttelton.

The service was inaugurated at 3 pm on Thursday, the 14th of February, 1929. Early Canterbury settlers and guests of the New Zealand Government Railways Department were issued with free passes on that day.

Twenty return services were provided each day, with the journey taking about seventeen minutes. Commenced in 1867, passenger services between Christchurch and Lyttelton ended in 1976.

Addendum (further to a reader's comment)

The southeast corner of Manchester & Tuam Streets

By 1872 the corner was occupied by the Timber & Coal merchant Robert England (1839-1919), father of the England brothers of architectural fame. By 1900 (above) the business was owned by Wood and Laurie

First established at Lyttelton in 1851, the premises of J. M. Heywood & Company Ltd were built on the corner between 1908 and 1910 (centre, middle distance). The Customs, Insurance, and General Commission Agent's building was demolished about 1986.

Situated immediately to the East of the Heywood building, at 224-226 Tuam Street, was the premises of the general merchants E. W. Pidgeon & Company. Its last incarnation was as Federal Motors, service and parts agents for Renault, Peugot and Daihatsu cars. The building was demolished about 1997.

1950 aerial photograph of the Heywood and Pidgeon buildings.

1984 aerial photograph of the Heywood and Pidgeon buildings.

May 22, 2009

Trends in Domestic Architecture

Here in Christchurch we might not yet be able to enjoy the standards of domestic architecture as epitomised by this suburan dwelling in the Slovenian city of Ljubljana, but on the other hand we do have this opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum (below), situated in suburban Merivale.

May 21, 2009

Christchurch's A.1. Hotel 1857-1935

Founded in January 1851, the Lyttelton Times newspaper also published an evening edition known as The Star from 1868. More widely read in Sydenham than Fendalton in its heyday, the evening edition lingers on as a twice weekly giveaway, supported by no more than advertising and Christchurch City Council advertorials.

Sad to say that its reduced circumstances would seem to no longer allow for the expense of journalstic expertise, as further indicated by the above photograph, published under the heading The Way We Were on the 20th of May 2009, and erroneously captioned "The intersection of Cashel St and Colombo St in 1860, with Blake's Hotel and the A.I Hotel around the corner."

For the sake of the historical record we proffer the following alternative caption:

The A.1. Hotel was founded in 1857 on the Southeast corner of Cashel and Colombo Streets, a site now occupied by The Crossing bus terminus in the renovated former Beath's department store building of 1935. The original gabled hotel (below) was replaced in 1874 by the second A1 Hotel, a three storey building, which burnt down four years later.

In 1879 it was rebuilt as the two storey structure depicted in the above photograph. James Blake is known to have been the Publican of the A.1. Hotel by 1865, but there's no known reference to a Blake's Hotel in any local archive.

The Colombo Street facade of James Blake's first A.1. Hotel to the Left, with the Mechanic's Hotel to the Right and the Watchmaker's shop of Thomas Charles Barnard adjoining the A.1. Hotel.

By 1915 the ground floor of the third A.1. Hotel had been converted into shops

Beath's 1935 department store extension was originally designed to have six floors, but The Great Depression of the 1930s got in the way.

Beath's department store reincarnated as The Crossing bus terminus in 2003.

May 20, 2009

Newtown, Christchurch

A source of confusion to family historians are references to the Christchurch suburb of Newtown, often mistaken for the Wellington suburb of the same name.

Newtown was the original name for Sydenham. Although constituted as the Sydenham Borough in 1877, the original name was still in common use three years later.

A 126 acre residential subdivision dating from 1861, by 1885 the borough comprised 45 kilometres of formed streets and a population of 9,500. The later name appears to derive from the Sydenham Academy, listed in 1860 as the Tuam Street school of Charles Prince (public schools were not established in Christchurch until the 1870s - it was not deemed necessary to educate the children of the labouring classes in the first two decades of settlement).

The above photograph is a southerly view of Colombo Road, Newtown (subsequently to become an extension of Colombo Street). In the middle distance can be seen the extant 1877 Wesleyan Methodist church at the corner of Brougham Street. Below is an 1877 envelope adressed to the recipient at the Newtown Post Office, Christchurch.


A mud brick (cob) cottage built on the northern side of Brougham Street East in the year following the original 1861 subdivision. It was demolished after 1912, when the photograph was taken.

May 19, 2009

Historic Royal Navy Photograph Identified


Down here at Canterbury Heritage we're always pleased to be able to identify reader's old New Zealand photographs, but we'll have to admit that maritime history continues to be an equal interest. Accordingly we were delighted to see a mid-Victorian photograph, of great rarity and of potentially significant interest to international maritme historians, in the collection of a renowned Christchurch collector of early photography.

In a northerly aspect of the anchorage off Portland Harbour, Dorset, at some time between 1872 and 1874, the photograph depicts three Royal Navy warships at anchor.

In the foreground is the cadet training ship HMS Boscawen, launched as HMS Trafalgar in 1841, Stationed at Portland from 1872 until 1906, she was broken up in the following year.

The middle ship is the HMS Achilles, launched in 1863, she served as the guardship at Portland from 1868 until 1874. In her time the five-masted ironclad was the largest sailing vessel in the Royal Navy and mounted the greatest area of canvas ever spread by a warship of any nationality. Renamed HMS Hibernia, she became a base ship in 1902, subsequently known as HMS Egmont, then HMS Egremont, her last change of name came in 1919 as HMS Pembroke. A modified design of the extant HMS Warrior, her 63 year career ended with demolition in 1925.

In the distance is HMS Minotaur, commissioned in 1868 as the Flagship for the Channel Squadron at Portsmouth. In 1893 Minotaur was re-named as HMS Boscawen II and used as the cadet training ship at Portland until 1905. Subsequently renamed HMS Ganges, she was broken up 1922.

The date ascribed to the photograph is attributed as a consequence of the stationing of the Boscawen at Portland from 1872 and the removal of two of Achilles's masts in 1875.

May 16, 2009

Curators Choice: Christchurch 1938 Lithograph

Detail from a circa 1938 lithographic poster of Christchurch for the New Zealand Department of Railways. Although unsigned, the painting can be attributed with reasonable certainty to the Wellington artist Leonard Cornwall Mitchell (1901-1971).

Depicted to the immediate Right of the Bridge of Remembrance is the lost tower of the 1918 Crystal Palace theatre, sadly demolished in 1986 in favour of the nondescript Crystal Plaza arcade.

An 882 x 1500 pixel image opens in a new tab or window

May 12, 2009

Wakatu: first chapter in a family saga of maritime loss

The last of the Lyttelton to Wellington passenger ferries to make the 280 kilometere voyage via Kaikoura ended her eventful 45 year career very close to where she had previously attended the tragic wreck of notable predecessor. Her demise would be the first chapter in a tale of the loss of two inter-island ferries by father and son captains

At the beginning of November 1878 John Currie Moutray and Robert Martin Crosbie of Nelson's Soho Foundry laid the keel of a cargo-passenger vessel for the local shipping enterprise of the Cross brothers and Burchard Franzen. Completed for a contract price of £6,000 and christened with the Maori name for Nelson Bay, the Wakatu was launched on the evening of the 6th of July 1879 from the foundry's Bridge Street slipway, near the Nelson Post Office.

In as much as Moutray and Crosbie had previously built a replacement engine and boiler for Captain G. Cross's paddle steamer Result, it may be surmised that they also constructed the compound steam engines for the propulsion and steam winches of the new vessel. With a boiler pressure of 65 pounds of steam per square inch, her engine developed a nominal 25 horsepower, therby maintaining a service speed of 9 knots.

Built for Cross and Company's Nelson to Wellington and Wanganui service, the 90 ton (78 tons net) steamship, was originally 32.23 metres in length, with a beam of 5.5 metres and a draft of only 1.8 metres. Up to a hundred tons of freight could be carried in her 6 metre deep hold. Fitted out at the Corporation Wharf as gaff rigged schooner, she could initially accommodate about 40 first class passengers. With the main saloon aft, there was also a seperate ladies' cabin amidships on the main deck. Further accommodation for second-class passengers was forward on the lower deck.

In the second week of November 1879, under the command of Captain Charles Evans, the Wakatu commenced her maiden voyage to Wanganui, returning to her port of registry via the capital a week later. But her first career would come to an abrupt end little more than two years later when she was stranded while crossing the Patea bar. An attempt to get her off with the evening tide failed, and she crashed violently against the cliff, a portion of which fell upon the ship. The hull therby being stove in, the Wakatu filled with water and became a total loss.

Sold to Levin & Company of Wellington, the vessel underwent a major reconstruction. With the hull extended by 4.25 metres and the gross displacement increased to 157 tons, the main deck passenger accommodation was significantly enlarged (above). Transferring her registry to the capital, William Levin put the rebuilt steamer on the Wellington to Lyttelton run, a service that the Wakatu would perform with reliability for longer than any other vessel.

Wakatu at her usual Lyttelton berth on the Ferry wharf.

In an omen of what would be her own and adjacent fate, Wakatu attended the wreck of the Lyttelton bound 228 ton coastal steamer Taiaroa, which went ashore just to the north of Waipapa Point on the Kaikoura coast in April 1886. With only 14 saved, 34 lives were lost and the Wakatu returned to Lyttelton with an awful cargo of coffins.

Apart from a night time collision with the steamer Storm off Motunau Island in March 1909, which left a gaping hole in her bow, the next two decades were fairly uneventful for the Wakatu. The highlight being when the Australian Poet Henry Lawson and his wife took passage aboard her in May 1897. Excitement returned in the early days of the First World War when she was was fired upon by the guns in the fortress on Ripapa Island in Lyttelton Harbour for failing to observe the War Regulations.

In the later ownership of the Wellington based Wakatu Shipping Company, she encountered her final mishap in thick fog at 5.00 am on the 6th of September 1924, while sailing from Wellington to Kaikoura and Lyttelton. An unusually strong current threw her high onto the beach on the northern side of Waipapa Point, very close to the wreck of the Taiaroa (below).

The remains of the Taiaroa as seen from the stranded Wakatu

The Wakatu was under the command of her regular master, Captain David Robertson, who was exonerated by the Court of Inquiry, which found that when the weather came up thick, with fine rain, a south-east wind, and a heavy swell, the vessel was at least four miles off shore, which was a safe position; that in altering the course at 2:30 a.m., and 2:40 a.m., the master adopted a safe and prudent course which, under ordinary circumstances, would have carried the Wakatu well clear of Waipapa Point, and that the casualty was caused by an unusually strong set owing to the action of the wind and tide, and to the fact that the vessel was lightly laden.

The crew of the Wakatu still aboard the stranded vessel.

Four years later Captain Robertson would be dismissed for trying to conceal another mishap, when his next command went ashore on Banks Peninsula. In a curious quirk of fate, David Robertson's son Captain Gordon Robertson would be in command of the inter-island ferry Wahine, when she sank in April 1968, with a loss of 51 lives.

Holed and buckled near the stern, the ships' resting place was so far up on the beach as to make salvage impossible, but her location greatly simplified the recovery of the cargo. Several attempts were made to refloat the ship, but were unsuccessful, and she was abandoned as a total loss on September the 12th.

Only a few hundred yards from the road, the Wakatu was still a photographic opportunity in March 1927.

Subsequently cut up for scrap where she lay, only her keel now remains to be seen on the beach.

Long supplanted by larger and faster vessels in the Lyttelton-Wellington service and the development of road and rail transport along the South Island's north-eastern coast, the loss of the Wakatu marked the end of Kaikoura as any more than a fishing harbour, but the long lost vessel is still commemorated in the name of that township's Wakatu Quay.

Many thanks to Steven McLachlan of the Shades Stamp Shop, the late Frederick William Weidner (Kaikoura Star photographer), Graham Stewart, the Nelson Examiner newspaper, the National Library of New Zealand, et al.

May 11, 2009

Historic 1879 Christchurch Photograph Identified

Unidentified until now is a photograph that will be familiar to many with an interest in Christchurch history.

Taken in Cathedral Square in May 1879, it shows a large wooden building in the process of being relocated. In the background is the newly completed Government Building, subsequently the Chief Post Office and now the tourist information centre.

During that era pressure for commercial redevelopment within the inner city saw many dwellings from the earliest residential areas moved to what are now the inner suburbs, where they continue to survive into the twenty-first century.

Shown above is the 1868 Baptist church on its way from Hereford Street to Oxford Terrace. Built for £272 on the site now occupied by the central Police Station, it was relocated next to the subsequent Baptist Tabernacle (below), which continues to occupy the south-east corner of Madras Street and Oxford Terrace.

Enlarged upon its new site, the church re-opened on the 29th of June 1879, becoming the Baptist Sunday School on the completion of its neo-classic replacement in 1882. Damaged by fire in 1903, the front part of the 1868 church was replaced in brick (below). Aerial photographs indicate that the Sunday School was demolished in the early 1970s.

Photo Credits: top; Christchurch Star newspaper archives, center; Early Canterbury Photographers, Bottom; Frederick George Radcliffe (1863-1923).

May 10, 2009

Rare Survivor of Earliest Sydenham

The long derelict cottage at 3 Harold Street, Sydenham occupies the western part of Lot 67 on Deposited Plan 75 in the former Borough of Sydenham (1876-1903).

That the dwelling's site shares the same legal description as 35 Buchan Street indicates that it occupied a quarter acre section, which originally faced on to Buchan Street, with two recent commmercial premises now occupying what had formerly been its front garden.

Harold Street was known as Aynsley Street until 1948 and its environs probably formed a part of the investment properties of the pioneer merchant Hugh Aynsley (1828-1917), who subsequently rose to civic prominence as Hugh Percival Murray-Aynsley, Esq.

The cottage appears to have begun life in the 1850s as a simple two-roomed dwelling, with a later extension to the north in the same style. It's design suggests a kitset cottage imported from Australia, and that it survives in relatively sound condition in spite of decades of neglect, would appear to indicate the durabilty of Australian hardwoods.

The apparent era of construction predates the development of this part of Sydenham as a built-up residential district. It's therefore surmised that the cottage was probably either the residence of an early market garden or had been removed from the inner city as the pressure for commercial redevelopment began to overtake Christchurch's earliest residential areas.

A further eight photographs of the cottage by Dr Greg O'Beirne, of the University of Canterbury, can be seen as a set on his flickr web site.



From Early Canterbury Photographers comes this photograph by Hubert David Bettger (1873-1935), of a similar, but architecturally ornamented dwelling from a slightly later era. Named Mabe Cottage, it continues to survive at Olliviers Road, in the eastern suburb of Linwood.

May 9, 2009

Hack Circle or Pioneer Plaza?


Nicknamed the Hack Circle from the 1990s, the former site of the 1989 amphitheatre at the intersection of High and Cashel Streets is to be renamed as part of an upgrade that will include an extension to the vintage tram route. A Christchurch City Council spokesman is reported as saying that public submissions on a new name for the area could be the basis for a popular vote.

Accordingly we suggest the name Pioneer Plaza for what is undoubtedly one of the most significant historic locations in the city. Above is a panoramic view of the junction on the morning of Thursday, the 22nd of April 1869 and below is a similar aspect in 2008.

Known simply as "The Triangle" for a century, the triangular junction was matched to the south-east by the "Clocktower" junction at High and Manchester Streets and "The Bottleneck" junction at the intersection of High, Hereford and Colombo Streets to the northwest.

"The Triangle" intersection was the origin of the city's commercial precinct. Here was the 1851 passenger terminus for coaches to the ferry at Heathcote, first hotel (The White Hart), first Restaurant (Birdsey's), first Chemist shop (Wallace & Co), first fire station and the Customs House.

Above: Cobb & Company's circa 1854 booking office on the site now occupied by the Hallenstein's building. From here coaches departed for Papanui, Riccarton and the outlying settlements at Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Oxford. By the mid 1860s Cobb's coaches were carrying passengers from here to Timaru and the goldfields of the West Coast.

From here could be hired horse-drawn passenger cabs and Carrier's carts. Hansom cabs were a familiar sight on the rank until 1944 (above), which continued as a taxi rank into the 1960s.

Above: because of its historical significance as the place where they first arrived in Christchurch, the surviving pioneers from the first emigrant ships of 1850 gathered here to be photographed in 1900.

In 1910 the original gas lamp standard was replaced by a triangular flower bed, with a fountain at the centre. This feature survived until the early 1980s, but was removed for the 1983 first stage of the City Mall.

Accordingly, we consider that in naming the revamped intersection Pioneer Plaza, this generation will be honouring the memory of those pioneers who founded our city.

The 1989 Hack Circle amphitheatre