Christchurch – this week in history (20 May – 26 May)

May 20, 1861
Gold discovered in Gabriels Gully, Otago. As with other discoveries, the ensuing gold rush depleted the city of its more adventurous young men.
May 21, 1866
City Council abandons the vital city drainage scheme because of its financial state. A huge shipment of pipes which had just arrived from England had to be sold off. This guaranteed Christchurch’s reputation as New Zealand’s most polluted and unhealthy city for another 20 years. It is interesting to compare the transport cost of these pipes from Glasgow to Lyttelton – £882 – with the cost from Lyttelton by lighter and cart to Christchurch – £400!
May 22, 1868
William Rolleston becomes the fourth (and last) Superintendent of Canterbury. The 4 superintendents have been remembered in the names of the city’s “four avenues”, previously called the Town Belts.
May 22, 1989
First significant rainfall in 22 months breaks drought in Canterbury.
May 23, 1861
Fire destroys brewery and shops in Cashel Street.
May 23, 1960
Tsunami (tidal wave) causes water level range of nearly 6 metres in 2 hours at Lyttelton.
May 23, 1968
Visit by Duke of Edinburgh.
May 25, 1861
“Christchurch Press” appears. The first editor was ex-Superintendent James FitzGerald, a bitter opponent of the proposed Lyttelton-Christchurch railway tunnel. He and supporters began the paper to air their views.
May 25, 1903
Statue of Queen Victoria unveiled in Market Square, and the area is renamed Victoria Square.
May 25, 1969
First pair of one-way streets (Lichfield and St Asaph Streets) in operation. With traffic signals eventually controlled by a computer, this was the beginning of New Zealand’s first area traffic control scheme.
May 26, 1859
Public Library begins as the Mechanics Institute in Town Hall.
  • More May events in our Christchurch chronology.

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