Elephants in the Avon part of Christchurch’s rich past

Photo: Newsline / CCC
Photo: Newsline / CCC
The quakes may have claimed many of Christchurch's heritage buildings but the city is still teeming with connections to our past - if you know where to look.

“There are many objects around Christchurch that people probably walk, cycle or drive past each day unaware of their historic significance or the story behind them," said Christchurch City Council heritage team leader Brendan Smyth.

“These objects provide a link to our past and to the everyday lives of those who lived here before us so they have immense historical value."

The Horse Watering Ramp in Victoria Square

Ever wondered why there is a somewhat unusual paved slope down to the Ōtākaro Avon River in Victoria Square?

It is a horse watering ramp - a tangible reminder of the importance of horses and horse-drawn transport in Christchurch during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The ramp is believed to have been built sometime between 1874 and 1886. It was designed to be wide enough to allow traders in what was then called Market Square to water their horses and to pull their carts into the river for washing.

In 1934, the ramp was used to water elephants from a travelling Australian circus after they had paraded through city streets.

The Armagh St kerbstones

If you’ve walked down Armagh St, near the Canterbury Provincial Council Chambers, you might not have paid any attention to the kerbstones below your feet.

They are historically significant and are one of few surviving examples of early colonial kerbstones.

The exact date the kerbstones were laid is unknown but they most likely date back to the early to mid-1860s.

The kerbstones reflect the importance of drainage in the development of the colonial city and the transition from muddy tracks to formed roads, footpaths and gutters through the latter half of the 19th century.

The Gas Lamp and Hitching Post in Cambridge Tce

Outside the main entrance to the Canterbury Club on Cambridge Tce there is another reminder of how horses were the primary form of transport in the city.

The 19th century hitching post that stands there was erected sometime in the late 1870s or early 1880s so people visiting the then newly established Canterbury Club would have somewhere to tether their horses.

In the Victorian and early Edwardian periods, hitching posts stood outside most inner city businesses, theatres, halls and clubs, but only a few remain.

Also on Cambridge Tce is the Gas Lamp, the only surviving gas street light in Christchurch. It dates back to about 1875 when streets were manually lit by gas each night.

The Gebbies Pass water trough

Next time you’re travelling between Christchurch and Akaroa, stop at the junction of Gebbies Pass Rd and State Highway 75 and check out the old concrete water trough behind the café.

The trough dates back to 1892 and was originally next to a site containing a blacksmith’s, post office and, after 1901, a telephone office, making it a central meeting point for the local farming community.

In the late 19th century, a good water supply for animals being used for transportation was a valuable asset and as Gebbies Pass was an important route linking Akaroa and Little River with Lyttelton and Christchurch.

The Redcliffs tram shelter

The seaside tram shelter on Main Rd, Redcliffs, dates back to the 1930s, when trams were the main form of public transport in Christchurch and a regular tram service ran between the city and Sumner.

In the late 18th century and early 19th century, Sumner was a health spot and popular resort.

Jointly funded by the Sumner Borough Council, the Christchurch Tramway Board and the Main Highways Department, the tram shelter was built in 1934 for £50. It was made from local stone, timber and cedar shingle and has a cast iron fluted column.

The tram shelter still plays a part in the city’s transportation network - it is now serves as a bus shelter and was recently repaired and stengthened after sustaining minor earthquake damage.









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