Getting in the mood for Christmas cheer

The Woman who Lived in a Shoe floatIf you are wanting to get into the Christmas mood there are plenty of entertaining activities to get you in the groove over the next six weeks.

Christmas markets always make me feel I’m on the way to being organised for Christmas and they’re great if you like craft, but like me you’re not much good at it. This year there’s going to be a Christmas Market Fair at Addington Raceway, a twilight one called Christmas on the green at Sydenham and an All I want for Christmas market at Shirley Intermediate School Hall.

Music is a great mood setter too and again there’s lots to choose from. The CSO is offering ‘A Cantabrian Christmas’ and the City Choir is giving its traditional performance of Handel’s Messiah.

If you prefer to make your own music try Carols in the Community or Carols by Candlelight, or maybe just get some library CDs and sing along at home.

And of course the kids would never let you forget the Santa Parade. This year it’s in Riccarton, but you could create a refreshing change of routine by trying the ones in New Brighton or Rangiora.

  • More about Christmas on our website and for the kids
  • More about Christmas in Christchurch and Canterbury in 2011
  • More Christmas events on Bethere

What does your street name tell you?

When I read Vanessa’s very interesting blog on the origins of the name Cashmere, I was inspired to find out what else street names of Christchurch might tell me about our history, so I turned to our Street Name and Place Name index for inspiration.

It seems that many of Christchurch’s main streets were laid out in the original plan with names taken from bishoprics listed in Burke’s Peerage. Cashel Street, for example was named for The Rt. Rev. Robert Daly, Bishop of Cashel and Waterford at the time, who also happened to be John Robert Godley’s uncle. This tells us little, except that the names were thought out before hand, possibly to emphasis the Anglican character of the settlement – and that the surveyors must have bought Burke’s Peerage with them.

Many others were simply named for the families who developed the land. There is an area in Spreydon where Lord Lyttelton is commemorated with names like Stourbridge Street (a village near where he lived) and Glynne Crescent (his wife’s maiden name).

Sergeant Henry NicholasHowever, there are less obvious connections in street names which help preserve our history in a way nothing else would. There’s Ontario Place for example, which was named because Canadian engineers lived in the area when they were building the Lyttelton Road Tunnel. Or Nicholas Drive, which was probably named for Henry Nicholas  awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in action at Polderhoek (Belgium) in 1917. An appropriate memorial, as the houses in the area were built by the Christchurch City Council for returned soldiers after World War One.

Sometimes, sadly history has been obliterated with name changes obscuring origins rather than marking them. For example Dr Alfred Barker, renowned photographer of early Christchurch, was wiped off the map when Barker Street was removed in favour of the more aristocratic name of Onslow Street, after a former Governor of New Zealand.

Find out what your street tells you about Christchurch.

Dreams of flying

Search BiblioCommons for I dreamedHave you ever dreamt that you could fly and then have that horrible sense of disappointment to wake and find that your feet are  firmly planted on the ground?

When we have wings  by Claire Corbett is science fiction and mystery intertwined, with descriptions of flight that leave you wishing you could just jump of the nearest building and swoop around, souring on thermals and basking in the wonder of it all.

All of this marvellous flying is background to an engrossing mystery encompassing corrupt genetic engineers involved in various dodgy dealings, and follows the life of a young girl flyer called Peri, whose bravery and strength give the book a really interesting character to focus on.

Taking this story beyond science fiction and mystery however, Claire Corbett manages to highlight some tricky and interesting scenarios.  Just because we can manipulate and change our destinies, should we?  If some people can pay for the advantages of these ‘advances’ does this lead to an underclass?  The power of flight and who can and cannot obtain it becomes a metaphor for the haves and the have-nots of our society, and gives the book a strong connection to present day situations.

I only had one criticism and that was that the mechanics of flight were explained too much for my liking – for others this could be a highlight, however  I was able to skip those bits without any problem and immerse myself once again in dreams of flight.

Affirm Aranui

Affirm 2009Head to Wainoni Park on the December 3 to enjoy Aranui Affirm Festival. The festival runs from 9.30am-4.00pm.

The festival has been going strong for a decade but this year feels more important than ever thanks to Aranui’s mighty community which is ready to showcase its unity and many talents. It is all about family and celebrating Aranui’s community more than ever because of the hard times they’ve gone through

From a morning haka to its own Top Town contest, they’ve got it all covered. Be ready to be entertained for free with a full stage from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm, including a performance by Kiwi hip-hop princess Ladi6. There will be cultural performances and community awards. All five local schools will be performing.

The festival supports the White Ribbon movement against domestic violence, this year with a Top Town competition.

Don’t forget to come and visit the Christchurch City Libraries stall where we can tell you all about the forthcoming brand new Aranui Library!


Kompass: for business direction

Kompass is a business directory that provides users with comprehensive information about companies, people, products and services. You can use Kompass to:

  • Find new suppliers of products and services;
  • Research companies, markets and industries;
  • Identify and target key areas;
  • Produce lists for direct mail campaigns;
  • Find sales leads and make new contacts;
  • Put your products in front of business purchasers.

Kompass can access information on over 3 million businesses from 60 countries, including 15,000 head offices of companies from New Zealand.

Access this electronic resources inside at our open community libraries through the Source.

A bridge with some history

photographRichard Greenaway is an expert on the local history of Christchurch. He has an eye for a good story and the skill and patience to check and cross check all kinds of references. He has compiled a wonderful array of New Brighton stories. This one concerns the Central  Brighton bridge on  Seaview Road.

The original Seaview Road bridge was a flat bridge which was replaced at the beginning of 1930s by the present bridge. This was designed by H. F. Toogood, father of Selwyn Toogood.  See photos of bridges in George W. Walsh’s New Brighton, a regional history, 1852-1970.

photographThe modern Seaview Road bridge is a high bridge. The hump in the bridge is there because Richard Bedward Owen (1873-1948), tailor and conservationist, known as ‘River Bank Owen’, argued that boats could come ‘sailing with the tide’ to Christchurch. They never have.

Owen’s conflict with the New Brighton Borough Council brought forth verse which appeared in the Star of 1 October 1927. A Mr. Wright was Owen’s lawyer. J. A. Flesher (1865-1930) was the borough council’s lawyer and A, W. Owles (1847-1940) the Mayor from 1927-29. Flesher and Owles had a personal squabble during the greater battle. Perhaps there was long-standing bad blood between them. They had once stood against each other for the position of Mayor and Flesher had won.

In the 1970s I met Mr. Hensley, lawyer with Hensley and Mortlock. He told me how, as a young man collecting information for Mr. Wright, he had spoken to elderly residents and gathered information on the vessels which had come up the Avon in pioneer times.

The councillors of Brighton,
by the Nine Gods they swore
they’d build a bridge full four feet high
but not a damned inch more.
By the Nine Gods they swore it
and coolly went their way,
and called for tenders for the job
and fixed up who would pay.

Then out spake R B Owen,
the River Banker bold:
“Your proposition’s a disgrace.
The people’s rights you’ve sold.
In perpetuity I claim the right of navigation.
Now who will put in my right hand
the costs of litigation?”

The privy purse was duly lined
and lawyers were engaged.
The issue long remained in doubt
while Wright and Flesher raged.
The Court below to RBO
awarded its decision;
but on appeal his argument
was treated with derision.

“Oh, Avon, Mother Avon”,
cried Owen in distraction,
“His Majesty in Council
shall adjudicate this action.
Five hundred quid’s as nothing,
and we’ll see this matter through

unless you folks agree to raise
this bridge a foot or two.”

And so the bridge remains unbuilt,
and contest’s still unended;
and Owen’s owin’ more and more
for costs and fees expended;
while Captain Owles irately howls
that JAF’s uncivil,
and JAF consigns the worthy captain
to the Devil.

But R B Owen’s sure to win
for Wright is on his side;
and when, in days to come, the boats
come sailing with the tide,
and pass with ease beneath the span,
then will the tale be told
how valiantly he raised the bridge
in the brave days of old.


Richard Greenaway

Fragile memories

I never expected to meet my dead relatives at work, but last week I may have done just that.

photographRecently I’ve been lucky enough to work on a really special part of our archival collection: a large set of Edwardian photographic negatives on glass plates. Some of these are of Christchurch and New Zealand scenes but the vast majority were taken near the Antigua Boatsheds: snapshots of folk enjoying a paddle-about in the boatsheds’ hired canoes and rowboats.

Now I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve attempted that particular lark I’ve ended up wet. Very wet. I don’t know how or if these early-1900s boaters managed to avoid that particular fate but, wow-eee, they are dressed up to the nines! The ladies are in fabulous dresses – not to mention some truly enormous hats – and the gents look absolutely spiffing.

These images are real survivors. Not only have they come through over one hundred years with nothing worse than a bit of dust and the very occasional lost corner but they also, by virtue of their own quite considerable boxed weight, stayed put on their shelf through all our recent rocking and rolling. Now we’ve started on the process of gently cleaning and rehousing them so that we can, in future, make them available as digitised images on our website.

Cleaning a glass plate negativeFactory-produced glass plate negatives with a gelatin-based emulsion were in wide use by photographers from the 1880s up until the 1920s, when they were suceeded by the more convenient gelatin silver paper negatives and gelatin silver negatives on celluloid roll film. They are fragile but they produce fantastically detailed images. If you have glass plate negatives of your own, the American National Archives provides some good advice about how to store them. If you think they need to be cleaned, however, please consult a conservator as it’s easy to irreversibly damage these treasures if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

And those dead relatives? Well, as I was working my way though one set my eye was caught by a familiar surname on an image showing three young ladies in canoes. Sadly I never met my three maiden great-aunts of whom my mother speaks so fondly (the last died a few months before I was born) but I rather like to think it’s them, enjoying an afternoon’s “messing about in boats.”

We’ll be working on getting these images ready to digitise for a wee while yet, but I’ll keep you posted about their online debut. Meantime, have a browse through some of our existing heritage images – those Victorians and Edwardians will surprise and delight you.

How can I tell if Christmas is coming?

I asked around the office to find out how everyone knows that Christmas is coming. The responses were:

  • Your library books are due back in December.
  • You actually read the advertising fliers that increasingly flood your letterbox.
  • The bakery has yummy fruit mince pies  to purchase.
  • Work suggests it is time to book your Christmas holidays.
  • The Christmas cake and Christmas mincemeat are made!
  • Your son leaves “What I really want for Christmas is…” lists in your wallet.
  • You get put on hold on the phone and have to listen to Christmas carols.
  • Christmas trees and Christmas lilies are for sale on the side of most roads.Photo of Santa arriving by boat at New Brighton

If you ask a kid that same question, the response might be: “Santa arrives in town just before Christmas”.

This year the New Brighton Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday 3rd December.  The parade starts at 10.30am with Santa arriving by boat. The librarians at New Brighton Library will join the parade of floats made by local community groups.

Photo of Santa floatThe Christchurch Children’s Christmas Parade Trust has worked long and hard to ensure that their annual Santa Parade could go on. So I was pleased to read that the Parade will take place at 2pm on Sunday December 4th. The proposed route for this year’s parade will be Riccarton Road from Wharenui Road to Mandeville Street. There will be  great floats and characters, clowns and music and, of course, Santa.

So forget about earthquakes and potholes for a few hours and make your way to New Brighton and Riccarton for the annual Christmas parades.

Make sure also to explore our Christmas pages and tell us how you know Christmas is coming.

Naming of New Brighton

Richard Greenaway is an expert on the local history of Christchurch. He has an eye for a good story and the skill and patience to check and cross-check all kinds of references. He has compiled a wonderful array of New Brighton stories and the first of these concerns how New Brighton came to be named.

Thomas Free senior, his son, William, Stephen Brooker, David Wilson Hamilton and Enoch Barker supposedly crossed the river with bullock and dray and set up camp in the park area near the Bower Hotel site. Certainly, they bought property there. Supposedly the Waste Lands Commissioner, William Guise Brittan, came up the river on a boat on 16 December 1860 and Brooker wrote the name ‘New Brighton’ on a board and planted it in the ground. He had known Brighton in England.

The naming of New Brighton is mentioned in Brooker’s 1899 newspaper obituary.

In the Star of 20 May 1922, Conrad Oram, who was living in England, wrote that his grandfather, George Oram (1826-76), a hotel keeper, named New Brighton. This is probably not correct. However, George Oram was an early landowner and was associated with Joseph Harrop Hopkins (1837-1910) and his attempt to boost New Brighton. The area on the south side of Seaview Road, stretching back to Union Street, was called Oramstown. The area from Union Street to the river was Rainestown, named after a soda water manufacturer, Thomas Raine (1820-1907). Union Street marked the union of the two towns.

There were celebrations of 100 years of New Brighton in December 1960.

New Brighton, New Zealand : Canterbury’s playground – 1923 pamphlet

The library has some great photographs of New Brighton capturing its life as one of New Zealand’s premier seaside suburbs, full of life and character. New Brighton residents have been good at recording their local history and the place has inspired novels and biographies.


On 20 May 1922: John W. Bissett told the story in a  Star article on the suburb’s history. There are many letters on the early days of New Brighton following the 29 April 1922 publication of George Thomas Hawker’s reminiscences, ‘Old New Brighton.’

Ferrand, B. F., ‘The borough of New Brighton: an experiment in local government’ (M. A. History thesis), 1951

Christchurch star-sun, 16 December 1958, G. E. Chisnall told the story of the origins of the name ‘New Brighton’ and chronicled the district’s history till about 1890..

Yesterday, today and tomorrow – win a copy of Christchurch dreaming

book coverA surprising number of books have already emerged following the earthquakes. One of the nicest is Christchurch dreaming. Read our interview with author Mary Hobbs.

The first part of the book covers the establishment of the city and is illustrated with some great photographs, many of them drawn from Christchurch City Libraries heritage collection. The rest of the book looks at the most loved places and aspects of Christchurch life, finishing up with a hopeful vision of the future city from a number of architects. Throughout are messages and thoughts from Cantabrians both famous and unknown.

The book has a wealth of fascinating images, including a coloured version of the famous Black map of 1856 which shows the natural features of Christchurch.

PhotoOne of Mary’s favourites from our collection is this photo of Hurst Seager’s street decorations.

We have a copy of Christchurch dreaming from the lovely people at HarperCollins to give away to a lucky library member – it would make a great present. Just add a comment and link to your favourite image from Christchurch City Libraries.

Competition terms and conditions:

  • To enter this competition you must live in Canterbury.
  • If you are a winner, you consent to your name, photograph, entry and/or interview being used for reasonable publicity purposes by Christchurch City Libraries.
  • Staff of Christchurch City Libraries and their immediate families are not able to enter.
  • The competition ends on Friday 2 December at 5pm.
  • We will announce the winner on Monday 5 December 2011.
  • We will notify the winners by telephone and/or email.
  • The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.