Apr 22, 2009

1887 Bicycle Race

As the restoration and geo-tagging of the ten thousandth vintage streetscape looms, the four dimensional model of Christchurch is acquiring a degree of accuracy, which now allows for the positive identification of virtually all historic images of the city.

The above photograph was taken just before seven o'clock on the morning of Monday, the 26th of September 1887 by Alfred Ernest Preece (1863-1946), who lived close to the lower Riccarton Road location. It comes from the collection of the Canterbury Museum (ref 10959).

The extant Standish and Preece photographic studio was situated at 218 High Street in that era. A regular photographer of cycling events, Preece was probably also the proprietor of the A. E. Preece Cyclists' Exchange in the second A1 Hotel building on the corner of Cashel and Colombo Streets.

The photograph shows the nine contestants at the start of the Pioneer Bicycle Club's fifty mile (80 Km) bicycle race from Christchurch to Leeston and back. The race was won by Richard Bargrove of Waverley Street, New Brighton, who started from scratch and completed the race in 3 hours and 35 minutes. Beating the record by 8 minutes, Bargrove finished 20 minutes before the field.

Seen to the Right at the beginning of Riccarton Road in this easterly view is the Riccarton Hotel. The once famed hostelry stood on the southern corner of Riccarton Road and Deans Avenue at the Riccarton roundabout until 2006.

Dating from 1851, when it was known as The Traveller's Rest, subsequently as the Plough Inn when reconstructed in 1865 and then as the Riccarton Hotel, followed by Nancy’s Hotel until its last ignominous incarnation as the Fat Lady's Arms.

An early favourite with the horse racing fraternity, the hotel's eastern facade (below) faced Hagley Park opposite the finish line of the Canterbury Jockey Club's original racecourse.

Restored detail from the National Museum of New Zealand's circa 1905 photograph


Jayne said...

I've had the pleasure of reading about it several times, in connection to the Jockey Club but hadn't got around to eyeballing its splendour until now.

Canterbury Heritage said...

The pic had been archived as "unknown location" for a couple of years until it finally clicked last night.

kuaka said...

I wouldn't want to be stationary on a bicycle on that spot today!

Now that four dimensional model of Chch must surely be something to behold! Time, I presume, is the 4th D - and perhaps the most revealing & eye-opening.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Mr C H initially flirted with the possibilty of community largesse for the development of the Christchurch 4D project, but unsurprisingly came up against a conceptual brick wall. Nearly four years on the project is beginning to achieve international recognition for being in the vanguard of this type of archaeological research, which is now being proposed as a development of the Google Streetview adjunct to Google Earth and Google Maps.

The research findings instigated this blog 15 months ago. As at least a partial consequence of its readership, and in spite of poor publicity, nearly two hundred citizens are understood to have turned up at a public meeting on a freezing night, a couple of days ago, to express their concerns at the ongoing failure to protect the city's cultural heritage.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Barnet st directly at the back of the hotel in 2004 and 2005 and it had been demolished then it was an empty section I used to cut through to the 24 hr dairy on riccarton rd.so it was the eatly to mid 2ooos i would say 2 or 3