Christchurch Town Hall turns 40

She is currently in the Red Zone, but join me in a toast to the Christchurch Town Hall – officially opened 40 years ago today – 30 September 1972.

Town Hall timeline

Old Town Hall

Christchurch had its Town Hall at the corners of Hereford-street and Cathedral Square, facing down what was then called the Sumner road (i.e., High-street at present). The Hall was 66 feet by 22 feet, with a gallery 10 feet wide. It had also two rooms united by a verandah, capable of being enclosed. A door led out from the gallery to a covered verandah over a porch that was used for a hustings.
(from Historical in the Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood, M. Mosley, 1885. Online at the NZETC New Zealand Electronic Text Centre).

On 9 October 1962, the Town Hall site chosen in Kilmore Street. Assisted by advice from visiting Professor Gordon Stephenson, the unanimously accepted proposal ended years of dispute over this choice. Other sites considered were the old public library site in Hereford Street and an area near Latimer Square. Another often debated site was Victoria Square.

Here’s a plan from 29 August 1968, architects Warren and Mahoney. See here and here.

Plan of the Town Hall

There are some wonderful aerial shots of the building’s construction on Digital NZ.

The Christchurch Town Hall was officially opened on 30 September 1972 by His Excellency The Governor General, Sir Denis Blundell, GCMG, KBE.

Christchurch Town Hall

In 1973 – herTown Halle are some happy Town Hall attenders, they have  just been to the Town Hall to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The Town Hall’s several function rooms were augmented in 1997 by the opening of the Christchurch Convention Centre, which was built to adjoin the Town Hall via a glass flyover bridge over Kilmore Street.

The Town Hall itself is currently closed due to significant damage caused by the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The damage was caused by liquefaction in the substrate under the building and the related lateral spreading of the ground towards the Avon River. The building is expected to remain closed until the end of 2013 at the earliest.

The Convention Centre was demolished in April 2012 as a result of earthquake damage.

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