Jan 2, 2009

Christchurch 1909

Exactly two hundred years ago, in the year that canned food was invented, the first Europeans landed in Lyttelton Harbour.  Little could they have realised that a century later men would fly across the sea, Marconi would win the Nobel Prize for the invention of Radio and that the city of Christchurch would take pride in having New Zealand's tallest building (the New Zealand Express Company's 1906 seven storey premises on the southeast corner of Manchester and Hereford Streets).

1909 saw the completion of The Press newspaper building in Cathedral Square (below) and also the extant D.I.C. department store on the southern side of Cashel Street near to the High Street triangle.

Mainly printed in Germany, the coloured postcard was beginning to replace its monochrome predecessors in popularity, here are some examples that depict the city of a century ago.

A major event of that year was the visit to Lyttelton of two Battle Cruisers of the Royal Navy's Australia Station. The Cressy Class HMS Euryalas (1904-1920) was Flagship of the Australia Squadron. Seen here about to berth opposite HMS Challenger, the naval vessels attracted large crowds to the Port's No.3 Wharf. That year also marked the arrival of the Harbour Board's new Steam Dredge Te Whaka. Now moored at Port Chalmers, she enjoys a prolonged wait for restoration. 1909 also marked the demise of the 78 year-old Marine Artist John Gibb, whose detailed paintings of the Port in the Victorian era are among its most treasured images. Gibb's Worcester Street home is now occupied the the politician Tim Barnett.

A southerly view of Colombo Street from Cathedral Square. To the Right, on what was first known as Skillicorn's Corner, at the Hereford Street intersection, and now shorn of its cornice, is the only building in this photograph to have survived.

An elevated north-westerly view of High Street at the junction of Lichfield and Manchester Streets. To the centre is the extant 1900 Strange's department store. Subsequent to a Ratepayer subsidised restoration in the 1980s, the building is once again in a dilapitated state, and is currently being offered for sale by its Korean owners.

The 1876 Canterbury Museum facing Worcester Street from Rolleston Avenue. Subsequently shorn of its spire and some of Benjamin Mountfort's architectural ornamentation, a recent attempt to impose further desecration upon this significant building has been thwarted by public opinion. Now reduced to little more than a cultural Mall, we look forward to the restoration of both the structure and the former ethos.

A luridly coloured depiction of two extant buildings in Cathedral Square. Now a tourist information centre and cafe, the 1879 Government building would have been the scene of long queues on Pension days in 1909. To the Right is the former Royal Exchange building of 1904, which had lost its southern tower by 1954.

A southerly view of Colombo Street from Victoria Square, looking towards Cathedral Square. To the Left at the corner of Armagh Street is the 1904 Oram's building. Occupied in 1909 by Ridley, the Draper on the ground floor, the Sarony photographic studio was situated on the upper level. To the Right is the late 1850s Chemist shop of Messrs. Cook and Ross, which would be successively demolished between 1927 and 1933.

No comments: