I’ve had quite a range of views at work. In 1980 my first work view was a front row seat to the Port of Lyttelton from the third floor Customshouse. Very useful for watching ships come and go, and the local denizens that serviced them. (Oh the stories I could tell if I wasn’t bound by the Official Secrets Act). The first time I boarded a Korean fishing boat was a bit of an eye opener. I think the tuna in a can have more room to move, than your average fisherman in his berth.
Then it was the third floor of the Government Life Building and I could watch Lady Di and Prince Charles shaking sweaty hands as they progressed towards the Cathedral service being held in their honeymoon honour.
The arrival hall at Christchurch International Airport wasn’t that picturesque, especially if it was a plane load of middle Americans in plaid pants who couldn’t understand the lack of porters!
By the 1990s my Linwood College classroom looked over the concrete quad – which wasn’t particularly inspiring. But the corridor windows looked over Edmonds park. It was just a green rectangle – not exactly thrilling – unless you actually got down there and kept walking and found yourself in Edmonds gardens. They are all that is left of the Edmonds factory gardens – which I do remember well from my childhood.
They were beautiful all year round and complemented the cute little factory with the Sure to Rise sign. Now I am older and understand about Heritage I wish I had chained myself to the factory door and stopped it being demolished. Thomas Edmonds built the factory gardens for the edification of his workers, but it served a wider local community also. One of my favourite little trips as a school girl was to visit the Begonia House on my rusty old bike and peer around at the lush tropical wonders. The glasshouses dated back to 1929.
Built between 1920 – 23 Thomas took pains to make sure the new factory was light and airy and any fumes or dust were filtered away from the workers. He was influenced by the British Garden City Movement which tried to neutralise some of the social problems which accompanied nineteenth century industrialization. So he commissioned garden professionals to design a workplace view that became a model to inspire other factory and business owners.
And it seems that Christchurch itself has a soft spot in its heart for the Edmonds Cookbook. It has been voted Christchurch readers’ favourite NZ non-fiction title. First published in 1914, the original version can be viewed online and the ANZC collection here at Christchurch City Libraries has original images to view.
In fact, it was only when I discovered the Heritage booklet on the library website about Thomas Edmonds and his legacy to Christchurch that I fully understood his amazing contribution to my city. Even though he died about the time that my mother was being born, and the factory was demolished in 1990; and the Edmonds brand is now part of some bigger food conglomerate; his hand is still in evidence in: the Theosophical Society Building, Repertory Theatre, band rotunda, Victoria Clock Tower and Telephone Cabinet, and Bickerton Reserve.
You can be a part of this legacy by finding your Edmonds Cookbook and entering our NZ Book Month competition. Fill in an entry form and hand in your cookbook to your local library. There are four different categories – oldest publishing date, most annotated, the virgin copy and write a story about an adventure you have had with your Edmonds Cook Book. You could win a new one or a designer necklace.