Sep 18, 2008

The Upham House, 1945

To promote the Christchurch City Libraries Retrospective: Christchurch life, architecture and design 1940s - 1970s photo competition, we're featuring a series of images from each decade. This week we look at the later 1940s.


32 Gloucester Street, 1945

(Built before 1878 the house was extensively remodeled by the architect T. G. Lucas in 1938).

The son of a civil servant, John Hazlitt Upham was born in London in 1867 and educated in England and France. After working on a Queensland sugar plantation he visited his older brother, the much-loved Winchester Street, Lyttelton doctor, Charles Hazlitt Upham (1863-1950). John stayed on in Canterbury, graduating in Law from Canterbury University College in 1902. He married Agatha Mary Coates, grand daughter of William Guise Brittan, two years later.

Upham eventually became a partner in the legal practice of Harper, Pascoe, Buchanan and Upham, which in 2008 is known as Anthony Harper and Company. He retired in 1949 and after a short illness, died on the 12th of June 1951. Seventeen years his junior John Upham's wife lived on until 1975, dying at the age of 91.

Named after his uncle, their only son Charles Hazlitt Upham was born on the 21st of September, 1908 in this extant family home on the southern side of Gloucester Street, between Montreal Street and Rolleston Avenue. Charles and his three sisters were reared in the English manner with a number of domestic servants.

Young Charles was sent to the Waihi School at Winchester before becoming a day pupil at Christ's College in 1923. Five years later he enrolled at the Lincoln Agricultural College, thereafter becoming a high country shepherd. By 1939 he was employed in the Vauation Department of the Christchurch City Council, before joining the Army at the outbreak of the Second World War. Without doubt his subsequent military career indicates that he was one of the most courageous leaders of any modern conflict.

Returning to the family home in 1945 Captain Charles Upham, V.C. and Bar wed his fiancée in June of that year. The couple had three children. The modest hero then resumed his farming career at Conway Flat, Hundalee, an isolated area of North Canterbury, where he died at the age of 86 in November 1994.

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