Market Square: swamp, river and raupo in the central city

Market Place (later Victoria Square), Christchurch, 1862, a panorama looking towards the north-east. Source: The Press, 11 July 1996, p. 17. Image: Christchurch City Libraries Reference CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0002.

It was hard to avoid sinking up to your knees in wet weather in Market Square in 1862.  This panoramic photograph shows Christchurch’s Market Place (later renamed Victoria Square) the damp geographical features of swamp, river and raupo.

In the background is a selection of early premises:- Lummis the painter;  a skittle alley; Ford’s the Coopers; the Royal Oak Hotel; Garrick Hotel and the Colombo Street Bridge. The iron and stone Victoria Bridge is under construction.

In Christchurch (New Zealand) there are about 140 buildings of one kind or another, almost all made of wood. Some of them ore of tolerable size, such as the Land-office, the School-house, used temporarily as a church, the Golden Fleece, Royal and White Hart Inns, Smart’s Boarding-house, the eight-stall stable at Christchurch Mews, and the residences of Brittan, Mr. Phillips, Dr. Barker, Mr. Rose, Mr. Brown, and Captain Westenra. There is also a small, but neat parsonage, near the temporary church.
MULTUM IN PARVO. (From late Australasian Papers.) The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 5 May 1852

Market Square 1862

Market Place (later Victoria Square), Christchurch, 1862, a panorama looking towards the north-east. Source: The Press, 11 July 1996, p. 17. Image: Christchurch City Libraries File Reference CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0003

In the second panorama photograph, Oxford Terrace and Colombo Street run parallel to each other. Armagh Street is still unformed. In the background on the left is St. Luke’s Church – eight years later a Maori skeleton in a sitting posture, the skull being only six inches below the surface, would be uncovered in the grounds of the parsonage.  Along Colombo Street from the left are C.W. Bishop’s store, Christchurch’s first official post office and the market-house where from 1853 weekly farmers’ markets were held. In 1862 this became the government post office. Further along Colombo Street is Mrs Williams’ Glasgow House with three gables (later Armstrong’s), alongside H.E. Alport’s store and auction rooms. In the foreground along Oxford Terrace are an Office of Works and a store, the police station and gaol and the immigration barracks (later used by the volunteer fire brigade). There is a shingle pit in Armagh Street.

This photograph shows the Avon River’s thickly vegetated banks of flax, niggerheads and swamp plants.  The original city plan considered the Avon as an open drain as well as a source of water. Oxford and Cambridge Terraces were laid out flanking the Avon River where it flowed through leaving irregular open spaces between the road and the river.  It took some years for the city to see the landscaping potential of the river banks.

Grey River Argus, 12 August 1882, Page 2. Click to enlarge.

Star, 6 April 1897, Page 2. Click to enlarge.

Lyttelton Times, 18 January 1851, Page 1. Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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