Apr 10, 2009

Christchurch Street Number Allocations

Subsequent to a reader enquiry concerning the location of an early house we're motivated to pontificate on a matter that's long been a source of confusion to local researchers.

Until about 1881 street numbers were not allocated to Christchurch buildings. Addresses listed in the electoral rolls for that year still used the 1849 allocation of Town Section numbers.

With the increasing subdivision of the original quarter acre sections, the old system ceased to be a practical option. A numbering system for East-West streets within the four avenues was then introduced with the lowest numbers beginning from their intersections with Town Belt East (now Fitzgerald Avenue).

However, by the turn of the century those streets had begun to extend eastwards into the suburb of Linwood and a new system of numbering was required. This was brought about by reversing the numbers so that the lowest began in the West at Rolleston Avenue, and in the case of Gloucester Street in particular, ran through to number 784 where that street terminated in what is now the suburb of Avonside.

Cashel Street appears to have been the first thoroughfare to have been renumbered in 1904, with for example, what had begun with the address of Town Section 855 becoming number 226 in the early 1880s and then 87 Cashel Street from 1904. Remarkably the original circa 1856 building on this site (below) survives, without recognition, in what is now part of the City Mall.

To add to a researcher's confusion not all numbers were re-allocated. Thus in the case of Worcester Street (which appears to have been the last to be renumbered in 1910), what had been 5 Worcester Street, which was the third house on the South side near to Fitzgerald Avenue, becoming number 278. But 5 Worcester Street was then allocated to the house on the Northern corner of Worcester Street and Rolleston Avenue, with the numbers 1 and 3 being inexplicably omitted.

We've yet to ascertain dates or patterns for the re-numbering of the North-South streets, but a database is underway to match Town Section, old and new numbers, however the idiosyncracies of the newer numbering system aren't making it an easy endeavour.




Photo credits

Detail from an 1878 photograph in the collection of the Christchurch Photographic Society.

Detail from a 1946 photograph in the collection of the Canterbury Museum.


Sarndra said...

Another gem of information for those of us who get easily confuzled at times LOL! Ahhh those early inhabitants...they really didn't want us contemporaries to think they were doing nothing! Town planning was a constant thing it seems.

Thanks for clarifying. It really is important information.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Town Planning has hopefully improved since the time when a street numbering system was outdated in two decades.

It's interesting to note that there were very few Town Planning restrictions until the early 1950s - anyone could build just about anything anywhere in Christchurch until then, but curiously there would seem to be a lot more factories in Wainoni than Fendalton...

The Weston House said...

Maybe you can throw some light on the numbering in Park Terrace...the block between Salisbury St & Peterborough St is as follows:
78,76,62 while on the opposite corner of Peterborough St(The George Hotel) is No 50...How did this come about?


Canterbury Heritage said...

Known as Windmill Road North from 1856, Park Terrace gained its current name in August 1872. The idiosyncratic numbering system can possibly be attributed to two factors, the first to avoid confusion with the street numbers of Park Road (now Grove Road, Addington) and the subdvision, between the World Wars, of the extensive domestic gardens on Park Terrace, north of Peterborough Street. The site of the George Hotel was originally occupied by the grounds Woodman house of 1858 and the subsequent gap in the numbers might have been allowed in anticipation of eventual sudivision of the garden into five sections.

sgthree said...

can you help me find out what number Cashel Street was, prior to the 1904 change, number 89.

Canterbury Heritage said...

228 Cashel Street would have become number 89 from 1904.

Anonymous said...

Any update on this database you mention? I'm undertaking a huge challenge in tracking down houses 1895-1925 as noted in electoral roll records.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Sorry, academic priorities currently preclude work on the database