18 January 1851
First bank, the Union Bank of Australia, opens at Lyttelton.
A group of seaside businessmen formed the New Brighton Pier Company in 1888. There were many problems, one engineer even taking the company to court for non-payment of fees owed to him. A Frenchman, Mr. Duval, was the engineer for the pier as it finally emerged, a much reduced structure than that which was originally planned. The first pile was driven into the seabed on 2 May 1891 and the pier was opened by the Governor on 18 January 1894. At the time the structure consisted of nothing more than the pier itself and a turnstile leading on to it. The pier company came to the end of its life soon after the opening of the pier.
Various individuals owned it thereafter, erecting a building which accommodated tearooms and side shows. The most prominent owner of the pier was Charles Agar of Lyttelton. He struggled to make a profit from the complex and tried, without success, to get the government to buy it. For a long period after Agar’s death in 1931 the pier was in the hands of the Public Trust.
Ultimately, it was purchased by Leonard Hampton ‘Sam’ Duffield who let people fish from the pier. Duffield belonged to the syndicate which sought to bring controversial English call-girl Mandy Rice-Davies to New Zealand. Duffield hoped that Mandy would sing at the New Brighton pier. Keith Holyoake’s Government banned her. In Oct. 1964 the pier was demolished. Sam Duffield died two years later.
Sources: A seaside item which never really succeeded / Richard Greenaway, The Press, 22 May 1976; New Brighton scrapbooks 1847-1940 / Alfred William Owles, held by Christchurch City Libraries
More January events in our Christchurch chronology.