May 29, 2008

Ignominious End

Hidden away among the factories of industrial Woolston is a building of some historic significance to Canterbury; many of our pioneer settlers ended their days there.

Funded by public donation and government subsidy, the Queen's Jubilee Memorial Hospital was designed by the renowned Samuel Hurst Seager (1854-1933).

In October, 1887 The United Ashburton and North Canterbury Charitable Aid Board purchased six acres at Woolston for £450 and in December of the following year the red brick building was opened for the reception and maintenance of aged poor persons.

An interesting feature of Hurst's design was the octagon (top Left). It had sixteen single rooms opening onto an enclosed court, with a verandah and path around it.

In 1898 more rooms were added, again with public donation, and a further five acres were added to the grounds, which became the Canterbury Hospital Board's vegetable garden. An 1888 funerary chapel was moved from the nearby Lower Heathcote (now Woolston) Cemetery to the hospital's grounds in 1949.

With the advent of an across the board economic rationalism in the mid 1980s the hospital's days were numbered and it closed in 1989. The Hospital Board doesn't grow vegetables any more and what's left of the historic buildings now form part of a barbed-wired fish processing factory complex.

Hurst's octagonal wing was spared an ignominious end and in 2003 was removed to Tuahiwi, near Woodend in the Waimakariri district of North Canterbury. It's now an "Holistic Life Coaching" centre known as Sanctuary House.

See where these photographs were taken.

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