Jul 17, 2008

Christchurch 1850

An idealistic and somewhat inaccurate view of the nascent city about June, 1850.

If the Barbadoes Street bridge had been there at this time then this would have been the elevated view in a Southwesterly direction towards Wigram and the snow clad Port Hills.

To the Right is what is now Cambridge Terrace. Beyond the two cottages is the home of Edward Jollie (1825-1894), the Canterbury Association's Surveyor. Down on the bank of the Avon is the Surveyor's Store. Nearby stands a horse and cart at the end of what will become Peterborough Street. This street approximates the position of the 1840 track to the first European settlement on the plains, accordingly it might well lay claim to be the city's oldest thoroughfare.

This had been the location of a Maori seasonal hunting whare near an artesian spring. By 1840 this site, at the highest tidal reach of the river, was in use as a landing place for the European farm at what would become Riccarton. By 1843 the Deans brothers were using the abandoned whare for temporary storage.

By the end of 1850 a landing stage stood on the opposite bank (subsequently known as The Bricks Wharf), beyond it will soon be seen the Canterbury Association's Land Office at the corner of Oxford Terrace and Worcester Street.

This is a restoration of a circa 1905 watercolour attributed to Albert Henry Fullwood (1863-1930).

Fullwoood, an English Artist living in Sydney, came to New Zealand about 1905 to paint a series topical images for Raphael Tuck and Sons, postcard publishers of London. Most of these cards were released in the Tuck's Oilette series to coincide with the 1906-7 Christchurch International Exhibition.

Fullwood occasionally reinterpreted other artist's work for these scenes and this particular example would appear to be influenced by the contemporary sketches of Walter Mantell (1820-1895) and the reminisces Edward Jollie, et al.

Not published in the postcard series, this painting of the lost location of the city's earliest historic site appears to have been overly enhanced in a subsequent rework and then published in The Press newspaper. A lithographic copy of the painting is held by the Christchurch Library, where it is attributed to John Durey.

Son of a Riccarton farmer, the sixteen year-old Durey had arrived at Lyttelton, with his parents, three sisters and older brother in December, 1850. He is later recorded as an employee of The Press newspaper. There is no documentary evidence of any other work of art by John Durey.


In his memoir Edward Jollie wrote, "I lived in Scroggs' grass house at the Bricks and the six men who were with me occupied a weather boarded house of one room about forty yards off."

These are the only known contemporary views of the site: the upper is late 1849 and the lower early 1851.

Jollie's trigonometric survey pole in the upper image would have been sited on what is now the north-east corner of Salisbury and Barbadoes Streets (marked below in red on an 1877 map).

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