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..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s