Apr 28, 2008

Canterbury Photo of the Year Nomination

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Autumn Dawn panorama of the city by Craig of Christchurch.

Canterbury Photographic Excellence 2008 Nomination.

Apr 27, 2008

Humphrey Lyttelton 1921-2008

We mark the passing of Humphrey Lyttelton, most distinguished of the descendants of the 4th Baron Lyttelton (1817–1876), chairman the Canterbury Association and after whom the principal port of the province is named.

Grandson of the 6th Baron Lyttelton and son of the Hon George William Lyttelton (1883-1962), Humph was the cousin of Lord Cobham, Governor General of New Zealand (1957-1962).

Humphrey Richard Adeane Lyttelton, trumpeter, clarinettist, bandleader, broadcaster, writer, journalist and calligrapher: born Eton, Berkshire 23 May 1921; cartoonist, Daily Mail 1949-53; chairman, I’m Sorry I Haven’t Clue 1972-2008; married 1948 Pat Braithwaite (one daughter; marriage dissolved 1952), 1952 Jill Richardson (died 2006; two sons, one daughter); died Barnet, Hertfordshire 25 April 2008.

Quote: "As we journey through life, discarding baggage along the way, we should keep an iron grip, to the very end, on the capacity for silliness. It preserves the soul from desiccation.”


Apr 26, 2008

Historic Buildings to be Demolished

A Christchurch City Council proposal to buy the century-old farm buildings at Mount Magdala, near Halswell, and save them from demolition has been rejected by councillors.

Developer Aidanfield Holdings Ltd has permission to demolish four of the five historic farm buildings to make way for a new housing development, but has not applied to demolish a central brick granary.

The complex of farm buildings is located behind the Halswell Residential School and near the 1912 St John of God Chapel, the former St Joseph’s orphanage and the Mount Magdala Cemetery.

The farm buildings are of historical and social significance as part of Mount Magdala. This was a predominantly self-sufficient community and pioneering Catholic social work institution designed to protect and rehabilitate women. The community was established c.1886 and operated until 1966, when the sisters moved into smaller buildings within the wider community and the complex was taken over by the brothers of the St John of God order.

At its peak in the 1930s Mount Magdala was a self-contained community housing close to 500 people, including orphans, the elderly and women ’in trouble’ because of alcoholism or crime.

The farm provided food for these residents and the farm buildings included stables, farming functions enclosing a central courtyard (a farm-steading) is unusual in the New Zealand context as is the use of brick for constructing farm buildings.

Decision angers heritage campaigners - The Press: 26 April 2008

Vital we preserve historic farm link - The Press: 21 February 2008

Apr 25, 2008

Podcast: Astronomy and Empire

From the BBC's In Our Time series Melvyn Bragg and three distinguished academics discuss the link between colonial expansion and scientific discovery.

The 18th century explorer and astronomer James Cook wrote: 'Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go'. Cook's ambition took him to the far reaches of the Pacific and led to astronomical observations which measured the distance of Venus to the Sun with unprecedented accuracy.

Cook's ambition was not just personal and astronomical. It represented the colonial ambition of the British Empire which was linked inextricably with science and trade. The Transit of Venus discoveries on Cook's voyage to Tahiti marked the beginning of a period of expansion by the British which relied on maritime navigation based on astronomical knowledge.

How had ancient trade routes set a precedent for colonial expansion? What was the link between astronomy and surveying? What tools did the 18th and 19th century astronomers have at their disposal? And how did the British justify their colonial ambition and scientific superiority?

Simon Schaffer, Professor in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge

Kristen Lippincott, former Director of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Allan Chapman, Historian of Science at the History Faculty at Oxford University

Apr 24, 2008

Podcast for Anzac Day

Charles Darwin observed the inhabitants of New Zealand to be the most war-like of nations. The ways in which we continue to commemorate Anzac Day might appear to suggest that our cultural values have changed little in this respect.

Richard Norman (above), Emeritus Professor of moral philosophy at the University of Kent, is the author of Ethics, Killing and War.

In this 18 minute podcast he argues for pacificism, a position which is distinct from absolute pacifism, but recognises how difficult it is to provide any moral justification for war.

Apr 21, 2008

The Anzac Coves

For Australians and New Zealanders the 25th of April is Anzac Day; an annual commemoration of Antipodean soldiers who died in war.

Anzac Coves were not always beach inlets where valiant soldiers fought, there was a group of men who called themselves the Anzac Coves and dressed in Pierrot costumes.

These soldiers took temporary leave to perform sentimental songs to the troops and then went back to the trenches. Some were killed between shows.

The concert party subsequently performed "Direct from the Firing Line" from the 29th of April 1918 at the King's Theatre, Hammersmith, London.

Identified above are: Rannall Carlisle (manager) of Sydney, Harold Shaw (comedian) of Sydney, F H Crossley (comedian and raconteur) of Melbourne, Hugh Gannon (ragtime and light comedian) of Sydney, Fred Reade (light comedian and dancer) of Christchurch, NZ, Harry Ross (tenor) of Melbourne, Ben J Davies (second tenor) of Sydney, Jack L Davey (baritone) of Horsham, VIC, Leslie H Williams (bass) of Adelaide, A Roberts (comedienne) of Sydney, Ralph Sawyer (female impersonator and dancer) of Sydney, J Gibb (monologuist) of Sydney, Frank J Donovan (pianist) of Melbourne and W J Smith (mechanic).

Bonnington House Restoration

Begun in December 2006 the restoration by the KPI Rothschild Property Group of the 1883 Bonnington House on Christchurch's High Street is nearing completion.

George Bonnington (1836-1901) opened his first Chemist shop in 1854, the pharmacy closed 120 years later, but more than a century and a half after its invention Bonnington's Irish Moss Cough Mixture is still manufactured by the Glaxo Smith Kline company.

This is an image of the interpretive display prepared by Canterbury Heritage for the foyer of the restored building.

Podcast - History Under Siege: battles over the past

History, like politics, is about national identity. So the work of historians frequently comes under attack, amid calls for the refurbishment or restoration of national identity. From the United States to the decolonised countries in Africa and South East Asia, the trend towards historical revisionism has been surprising in its breadth, scale and diversity of argument.

Relevant to the politically correct revisionism of New Zealand history, this 55 minute podcast is Part 3 of Australia from History in the Hindsight ABC series.

The program places Australia's 'history wars' against comparable experiences in some of the other countries featured in the series. Has the country witnessed the politicisation of Australian history over the last ten or fifteen years? And is the anxiety over the historical literacy in school children linked to these wider tensions in the history wars?

Apr 19, 2008

1864 Church Rediscovered

Long forgotten and misreported as having been demolished in the subsequent history of Christchurch is an 1864 church on Manchester Street.

In 1862 the Congregational Society purchased a site for their proposed church at the corner of Worcester and Manchester Streets. Designed by Samuel Coleridge Farr (1827–1918), the Province's first architect, a chapel was constructed of Oamaru stone in 1864 on the Southern part of the Manchester Street frontage.

In 1874 the adjoining Trinity Congregational Church was built on the corner of Worcester and Manchester Streets to a design in the Gothic Revival style by Benjamin Mountfort.

The old chapel then served as the Society's school, with another storey in mismatching stone added after 1902. The building and the adjoining church were sold to the State Insurance Company in 1973.

Apr 18, 2008

Humanities Podcast

Yale has long been recognized as a leader in humanities scholarship. Top University faculty and distinguished visitors in literature, language, history, political science and other disciplines share insights concerning their research and teaching.

In this podcast Yale's Sterling Professor of Law Anthony Kronman (above) explores how political correctness and the research ideal have led the humanities astray.

Vintage Tram Derailed

A former Melbourne tram was derailed in the entrance to the Cathedral Junction Tram Terminus on the 14th of April, 2008 when it collided with a glass and metal door, which started closing too soon.

The 52 seat tram, which was carrying 15 passengers at the time, had previously been involved in another accident in November 2006 when it lost its air brakes, extensively damaging three cars.

Tram 244 was in Melbourne service from the 25th of February 1925 and converted to the W2 class in September 1929. The tram's last allocation was the Camberwell Depot. It was sold in full running order on the 28th of March 1983 to the Newcastle Tramway Museum in Maitland, New South Wales. When the museum was wound up 244 was overhauled and repainted in the original Christchurch Tramway Company's livery.

The tram terminus is situated on the Northern side of Worcester Street between Cathedral Square and Manchester Street. The circa 1908 building was the former Smith's Garage, subsequently the Mayfair Theatre from 1935, Cinerama cinema from 1963 to 1985 and then the Christchurch Youth Centre. The building was restored as the Quest Hotel and Cathedral Junction Tram Terminus in 2004.

Apr 17, 2008

Lost Christchurch

The Christian Science church was built in stages between 1929 and 1935 on the North side of Worcester Boulevard between Montreal Street and Cambridge Terrace. It was a period of a marked Georgian revival in Christchurch architecture.

With its pillared and pedimented portico, it was the only church building in Christchurch reminiscent of American Georgian style. The elegant church was substantially built of plastered brick and concrete to a design by Heathcote Helmore, better known for his houses.

In the early 1980s the church became too costly to maintain for its diminished congregation, which took new premises elsewhere and sold the building to a Chinese restaurateur. In a bid to give the building a clear identity as a Chinese restaurant the new owner had an entirely new facade built in 1984. Despite efforts to persuade him that the building could be given the identity he wanted, the original facade was destroyed.

Situated next to the Christchurch Art Gallery, the Chung Wah restaurant closed in early 2006. Initially offered for lease and then for sale by Hope Island Holdings Ltd, the building was acquired in April 2007 by Gordon Chamberlain; the man behind the Ibis Hotel in Hereford Street and Novotel development of Warners Hotel in Cathedral Square.

Photo by Greg O'Beirne of Christchurch

The former church was demolished in August, 2007 and plans were announced for a $23 million, 14 storey, four to five star apartment-style hotel, with the upper levels either as residences or to lease back to the hotel as visitor accommodation.

Gordon Chamberlain was subsequently reported as negotiating with Quest Hotels Inc. of Florida to lease and run the lower levels of the new building. Quest already has the 75 apartment hotel in the Cathedral Junction building.

In the meantime the former church site in the city's cultural preceinct continues to remain vacant...

Maiden Voyage to Lyttelton

The arrival at Lyttelton of a vessel on her maiden voyage is a rare and noteworthy occasion.

The Handysize Nord Singapore will berth on the Eastern side of the old ferry wharf on the 26th of April 2008.

The 31,800 ton bulk dry cargo carrier was launched in Japan in March and is 167.76 metres in length.

Before departing on the 28th the vessel will unload Tapioca pellets from Thailand, a supplement in pasture based dairy cattle rations.

Christchurch's State Cinema

The third building on the North-east corner of Colombo and Gloucester Streets is an unfortunate example of recycling defacing rather than preserving a building's character.

When the State Cinema opened in 1935 the city gained a fine example of Art Deco decoration. It was the work of a local architect, Francis Willis, who was the readiest in the Christchurch of the late 1920s and 1930s to experiment with decorative building design.

His experiments were not always entirely successful, but in the case of the State Cinema he attractively embellished a simple box of a building with curves, chevrons and lettering, all in slight relief. The effect was stylised, but the cinema was one of the best examples in Christchurch of decorative work of the 1930s.

When the cinema's lease expired in 1977, the building was converted to accommodate the growth of a duty free shop which had long occupied the ground floor. The exterior of the building was sheathed in white fibre glass panels intended to create a modern look compatible with the new Rural Bank building on the opposite corner. The result has reduced what had been a notable building to a boring white box.

Apr 14, 2008

The 1874 Barque James Craig

Launched in 1874 as the Clan Macleod, the vessel began her career on the South America run, subsequently carrying British emigrants to Australia. However, within a decade her kind had been superseded by steamers that didn't require three to four months for a voyage to the Antipodes.

As a New York based general cargo vessel she became a familiar sight at Canterbury ports from the later 1880s. Much of the enameled Granite Ware saucepans, pie dishes and kettles, etc. now keenly sought by antique collectors, arrived in the province via Cape Horn aboard the Clan Macleod.

Acquired by the Craig Line of Auckland at the turn of the century and renamed James Craig five years later, she worked the Tasman carrying timber to Australia, returning with hardwood railway sleepers and general cargo.

Sold to Sydney in 1911, she ended her working career as a Tasmanian coal hulk. Rescued in 1973, restoration began in 1981 and the vessel is once again registered at Sydney. Although still bearing the James Craig name, the $12.5 million "restoration" has not included the distinctive Craig Line livery.

The Craig Line's Louisa Craig of 1876 ended her career as the Lyttelton coal hulk Raupo and now lies beached on Quail Island.

Fourth in a series about surviving ships of significance to Canterbury history.

Apr 13, 2008

The General Cargo Vessel Balclutha

A regular visitor to Lyttelton in the last decades of the nineteenth century was the Balclutha. At Gladstone Pier she would load wool and tallow for London via the tip of South America.

Renamed Star of Alaska in 1902, she became a floating Salmon cannery on the Alaskan coast. In this trade she accommodated more than two hundred crew and passengers, as compared to a complement of twenty six carried on the New Zealand run.

Renamed Pacific Queen in 1933, she appeared in the film Mutiny on the Bounty, with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton.

Acquired by the San Francisco Maritime Museum in 1954, the Balclutha is now a designated National Historic Landmark.

Third in a series about surviving ships of significance to Canterbury history.

Apr 12, 2008

1863 Emigrant Ship Euterpe

Euterpe at Lyttelton in 1877, London Street in the foreground.

The Shaw, Savill & Company's Euterpe brought many thousands of emigrants to Canterbury between 1871 and 1896. The Eastward voyages from England took between 100 and 143 days.

Built in 1863 on the Isle of Man, she was renamed Star of India in 1906. Listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest active ship, her home port is now San Diego.

Second in a series about surviving ships of significance to Canterbury history.

Apr 11, 2008

The Royal Research Ship Discovery

Robert Falcon Scott's RSS Discovery photographed in the Lyttelton Graving Dock in December 1901. Arriving at the port on the 29th November, she was initially berthed at Gladstone Pier, later moving to the No. 2 (Ferry) Wharf.

With bands playing and crowds lining the wharves she departed for Antarctica on the 21st of December. Charles Bonner, a high spirited young seaman climbed the main mast above the crow's nest where he sat on the masthead waving to the crowds. Attempting to stand, he slipped and fell to his death. Bonner was buried when Discovery called at Port Chalmers.

107 years later the last wooden three-masted ship to be built in the British Isles is now on display at Dundee, Scotland, where she was built.

First in a series about surviving ships of signficance to Canterbury history.

Apr 10, 2008

Mortgagee Sale for Christchurch Apartments

Three apartments in the Parkbridge apartment complex on Park Terrace will go under the hammer in a mortgagee auction.

Parkbridge was built by developers Sharon Bartlett and Murray Blackmore, who bought the historic site on the corner of Park Terrace and Bealey Avenue in 2002. Murray Blackmore, husband of former Christchurch City councillor Paddy Austin is a shareholder.

The complex has 19 apartments in three buildings; the historic 1912 McKellar and 1926 Fleming houses and a new building linking the two.

The total indebtedness is unknown, but a finance company is owed $2m under a mortgage over just one of the apartments.

Bartlett and Blackmore are also selling Daresbury, their 1901 Fendalton mansion (below).


Fancy city flats fail to sell - The Press, 09 May 2008

Park Terrace Apartments Ltd put into liquidation by IRD - The Press, 22 July 2008

Developer's empire unravels: The Press, 26 July 2008

Saving Canterbury's Heritage

Facing a threat of demolition is the derelict Ti Kouka House, circa 1865 home of Samuel de la Bere Barker (1848-1901) at 281 Cambridge Terrace near the Madras Street bridge.

Sam Barker, son of Dr Alfred Charles Barker; Surgeon aboard the Charlotte Jane and father of Christchurch photography, was the Librarian of the Supreme Court and a widely renowned Botanist.

The Lyttelton Times for 23 August 1902 stated "On the northern side of the Avon stretching along the bank from Madras Street to Manchester Street there is a garden filled exclusively with New Zealand plants. Its official name is Barkers Avenue." (view a satellite image of the house location).

Barkers Avenue from the Madras Street bridge, circa 1902

A New Zealand Historic Places Trust spokesperson is reported in a Christchurch newspaper as saying that while both the Trust and Christchurch City Council staff work to conserve the city's built heritage, Christchurch lacks the automatic protection for old homes written into the city plans of Auckland and Wellington.

The spokesperson is also quoted as saying "Certainly, Christchurch is under resourced in terms of its ability to protect its heritage. We are losing quite an amount of our old dwellings, especially our timber ones."

Condensed from an article in The Press.

Statistics from the Ministry for the Environment suggest Christchurch has the highest number consents which are not notified or have limited notification of any New Zealand city – just 113 limited and notified consents out of 5,241 applications in the last four years.

This allows substantial developments to proceed with little or any reference to the community. City Council officers say this is allowable under the current town plan and that this is in turn based around the Resource Management Act.

This policy allows the community little chance for input into developments that may end up in the destruction of heritage buildings.

Labour’s Christchurch Central candidate Brendon Burns

Kiwi photographer Jake was born in Warsaw, Poland, a city that was almost 90% leveled to the ground during World War II. He says "We sure miss that heritage and the effect the loss has had on the city is profound. Here we seem to be doing something similar, just over a longer time and bit by bit... Christchurch is actually a disgrace when it comes to tearing down our old heritage and replacing it with junk .."

Apr 8, 2008

Ecological Design Gym for Les Mills

The Les Mills Christchurch building was constructed in 1910 on the corner of Cashel Street and Woolsack Lane for Massey Harris, importers of agricultural machinery.

It's reported that the century old building will become the most ecologically designed gym in the world and will surpass anything New Zealand has ever seen when it's opened in early 2009.

Apr 6, 2008

Christchurch Heritage Disaster

Built in 1915 as the Everybody's Theatre and renamed in 1934 as the Tivoli Cinema and then the Westend in 1971, the theatre was speedily demolished in May, 2007.

Christchurch City Councilor and heritage advocate Anna Crighton is reported as having said the demise of the cinema marked the end of the grand movie theatre facades that were once dotted around Cathedral Square. It was extremely disappointing that the facade had not been listed for protection in the city plan.

Crighton's comment might be considered somewhat hypocritical as her Council did nothing to stop the destruction of the 1880 neo-Gothic Sunnyside Hospital at Addington.

Update: June 12, 2008

Property developer David Henderson is selling the Chancery Lane precinct site, which comprises 2,700 square metres in six titles. It includes the heritage-listed 1914 Sevicke Jones building and a vacant site formerly the Tivoli/Westend cinema as well as the buildings facing onto the lane. A July 31 deadline is set for the sale but no price tag is mentioned.

Henderson is reported as saying, "Chancery Lane was a redevelopment site where the concern was that we've got a heap of redevelopment sites and working on it would detract from other projects."

Update: 2 August 2008

The Christchurch City Council refuses to confirm it is considering buying central city properties from developer Dave Henderson.

Councillors and officials are staying silent about a mystery property purchase discussed by the council behind closed doors last week.

Several sources have told The Press newspaper that the council is considering a deal on Henderson's Chancery Lane development property.

Apr 5, 2008

Temuka Town Hall

The Temuka Town Hall was built in the 1890s by Daniel McInnes (1866-1932), a member of the Temuka Borough Council for 24 years and Mayor between 1907 and 1912. In 1922 the Hall became the Dominion Theatre. Subsequently the Elite Cinema, it has been a second hand shop since 1970.

Apr 4, 2008

Historic Building Demolished

Without the benefit of community consultation Lincoln University's historic McCaskill building has been demolished.

The structure has been unoccupied and fenced off as an "earthquake risk" for a decade.

Built in 1929 as the Laboratory Block of the 1880 College of Agriculture it was renamed in the 1960s to honour Professor Lancelot McCaskill (1900–85), one of the country’s most influential conservationists.

Apr 1, 2008

Public Trust Building Restoration

Currently undergoing a comprehensive restoration by Ben Gough's Tailorspace Investments is the 1924 Public Trust Building at 152-156 Oxford Terrace (between Worcester and Hereford Streets). There were plans to build a tower behind the building, but that's been scrapped.

Featuring a Takaka Marble and Black Granite interior, the Cecil Wood (1878–1947) design is a synthesis of post-Edwardian modernism and restrained classicism.

Under the supervision of a British expert in the restoration of heritage buildings the seven level structure is returning to its former glory. Working from the Architect's original plans, the Oamaru Sand Stone and Port Chalmers Blue Stone facade will shed layers of paint during the restoration.

The later addition of an intervening level above the ground floor is being removed to return the marble pillared main chamber to its full two storey height. It's understood that this impressive space will be occupied by the award winning Wagamama Japanese restaurant chain. A basement level café will incorporate the restored Safe Deposit Vaults.

See a satellite view of this building's location