How to get to New Brighton

Richard Greenaway is an Information Librarian with an interest in the history of East 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. Here he explores the way early residents of Christchurch travelled to New Brighton.

Road making on Tramline [later Pages] Road, near New Brighton  [1897] Dutch, F. W. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 5, IMG0066
Road making on Tramline [later Pages] Road, near New Brighton [1897] Dutch, F. W. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 5, IMG0066

New Brighton Road

The first route from Christchurch to New Brighton in European times was via FitzGerald Avenue (then the East Belt), and Shirley and New Brighton Road. Because it was the first route, it was sometimes called the ‘Old Brighton Road’. New Brighton Road dates from 1860s. This route avoided bridges.

A mishap to the Christchurch-New Brighton tram at Wainoni Park  [14 Dec. 1913] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0035
A mishap to the Christchurch-New Brighton tram at Wainoni Park [14 Dec. 1913] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0035

City and Suburban Tramway Company route

The City and Suburban tramway Company put through a tramline which started in town, went down Travis Road and towards the sea along what is now Bowhill Road. The line then went along the Esplanade (Marine Parade) to Central Brighton. The line was opened for traffic in 1894. The company went out of business and was taken over by the man who had built the line, John Brightling (1843-1928). Bowhill Road is named after Thomas Bowhill Thompkins (1837-82), a publican, who had land in the area. Stronger Christchurch uncovered some tram tracks from this line in 2012.

Seaview Road, New Brighton  [ca. 1910] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0021
Seaview Road, New Brighton [ca. 1910] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0021

Avon River

Richard Bedward Owen thought of the Avon as a route to Christchurch. Some small vessels trying to negotiate Sumner bar sank there and at the entrance to the Avon-Heathcote Estuary.

Paddle steamers

These came down the Avon to New Brighton, mainly bringing picnickers. Notable among these was the Maid of the Avon. In 1866 the captain, John Mills, chopped down the Stanmore Road bridge because it was impeding a true-born Englishman’s right to pass along a navigable waterway. Another notable paddle steamer was the Brighton which was part of Joseph Harrop Hopkins’ attempt to boost New Brighton in 1872-75. He also had built the original New Brighton hotel, in Seaview Road (later Patterson’s and McCormack’s).

It was customary for the Christchurch fire brigade to hold an annual picnic. On 3 April 1874, members of the brigade celebrated the occasion by chartering the Brighton for an excursion to the beach. With their friends, and with Mr. Bunz’ popular band, they set off.  They enjoyed the races and games of cricket on the beach, as well as the luncheon provided at Mr. Hopkins’ hotel.

One of the brigadesmen, Richard Edward Green (1853-1938) wrote about this outing in the Star of 1928. Green recalled the chorus of one of the songs that firebrigadesman Samuels had sung at a party that day:

Ah – she has fairly broken my heart.

I wish I had never seen

that dark young girl with her hair in curl

that works at the sewing machine

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. Read more blog posts about New Brighton history, including more from Richard.

Sources