Jul 18, 2008

Naming Christchurch Streets

Canterbury Heritage is soon to publish the memoirs of Edward Jollie, the Surveyor who laid out the city of Christchurch in 1849.

Among the appendices to the memoir is this excerpt from the reminisces of his fourth daughter Mary, who was born at Christchurch in 1868.

"The chief was Captain Thomas, who had come out to Wellington about 1841. He had been in a British cavalry regiment. The cadets in Wellington had once saved him from arrest for debt by rolling him up in some big maps in the survey office. He was a man of strong opinions.

When helping to lay out Christchurch my father built himself a Raupo whare, which was the first dwelling in that town. The younger surveyors made plans and submitted them to Captain Thomas for approval. It is to be regretted that he disapproved of the suggestion that the streets should be twice their present width. He was sorry after, when it was too late.

Then came the question of naming the streets. They were to be called after bishoprics of the Anglican Church. They had a sort of informal council, and looking at the plan one would say,

"What about street No. 20: shall we call it after the See of Blank?"

"That will do," would say Captain Thomas, "the Bishop of Blank is a Conservative and a good fellow, so put it down."

"Then how about naming street No. 13 after the See of Dash?"

"I'll be damned if you do, the Bishop is a Radical, quite a low fellow."

So some Sees were left out, because the chief disliked the bishops. He must have had an extensive knowledge of them.

When the ships at last arrived a number of immigrants came straggling over the Port Hills, and the Raupo whare had to accommodate quite a number of future notabilities for the night. But it did not take long to get the new town going..."

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