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 bridges early residents of Christchurch used to travel to New Brighton.
Built in 1883 by Henry Jekyll (1844-1913) and Henry Philip Hill (1845-1923). They owned Rural Section 183, at Dallington, to the north of the Avon River. The river was the western boundary of the property and the northern boundary was McBratneys Road. Jekyll and Hill planned to put a tramline through to New Brighton. Nothing came of the venture but the original Dallington bridge.
Bower bridge, Wainoni Road, was opened by Sir John Cracroft Wilson in 1876. The present Bower bridge opened in 1942. In the 1920s and ‘30s the Inter-City bus service pioneered transport on Wainoni Road, across the Bower bridge and to North New Brighton and New Brighton. This was a private service, very popular, cheap and run on the smell of an oily rag. It was managed and owned by Walter Bussell (1887-1967) who had his headquarters on Bowhill Road. The bus company had been in competition with the Christchurch Tramway Board’s trams on the Pages Road route and there was what was called the ‘bus war’. Trams and buses would try to beat each other to pick up the next passenger.
Central Brighton bridge, Seaview Road
A route was put through by New Brighton Tramway Company. Opened in 1887 horse trams ran from Christchurch to New Brighton between 1887 and 1905, after which the Christchurch Tramway Board took over and electrified the line. The company’s line was later opened as a public road, Pages Road, named after tramway company director, Joshua Page (1826-1900).
One of the people in charge of the New Brighton Tramway Company was George McIntyre (1841-1934), a surveyor by occupation. He was Mayor of New Brighton when King Edward’s Well (outside the New Brighton Library) was unveiled in 1902.
The original Seaview Road bridge was a flat bridge. It was replaced at the beginning of 1930s by the present bridge. This was designed by H. F. Toogood, father of Selwyn Toogood. You can see photos of the bridges in George W. Walsh’s New Brighton, a regional history, 1852-1970.
The modern Seaview Road bridge is a high bridge. The hump in the bridge is there because Richard Bedward Owen (1873-1948), tailor and conservationist, known as ‘River Bank Owen’, argued that boats could come ‘sailing with the tide’ to Christchurch. They never have. Read all about it in A bridge with some history.
South Brighton bridge, Bridge Street
Opened in 1927 it was the result of the work of New Brighton Borough councillor, Herbert Arundel Glasson (1866-1931). He lived in South Brighton and persuaded fellow residents that they should be a ‘special rating area’ and pay extra rates to the New Brighton Borough Council providing that a South Brighton bridge was built. A small wooden bridge was built. This meant that South Brighton residents could cross the river and get to town, saving the long journey up to Central Brighton. A new bridge was opened in 1981.
The Estuary Bridge has never been built. It has been proposed by various people over the years. See The Bridge that never was.
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.
- Avon Road Board minutes, Christchurch City Council archives
- ‘Rambler’ in Lyttelton times, 1868. The letter is reprinted in Richard Greenaway’s 1977 book, Burwood, All Saints’ church, 1877-1977. This was reprinted in 1999 as Burwood and All Saints’ church, 1877-1977.
- The Brighton Standard, 1936-39