Johnson’s Fishponds, the Aquarium at 105 Clarendon Terrace, Opawa: Picturing Canterbury

Johnson’s Fishponds, the Aquarium at 105 Clarendon Terrace, Opawa [ca. 1900]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 3, IMG0038.
Johnson’s Fishponds, the Aquarium at 105 Clarendon Terrace, Opawa [ca. 1900].

In 1875 Andrew Mensal Johnson (d. 1916) established a fish hatchery and aquarium at Opawa, on the south bank of the Heathcote River, calling it Troutdale Farm. It became popular as a picnic grounds until it closed in the early 1930s. For further information about Johnson and his work see:

Do you have any photographs of Opawa? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Johnson’s Fishponds, The Aquarium At 105 Clarendon Terrace, Opawa

Riverside Neo-Georgian: The Theosophical Society Hall

Late in the afternoon of 25 July 1926, a crowd gathered at 267 Cambridge Terrace to witness the dedication of a newly erected building. Built in the Neo-Georgian style of architecture, it evoked the image of a palatial dwelling rather than that of a religious institution. At exactly 4:43pm, a time chosen for being the supposed moment when the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, gave his first sermon at a deer park in Sanarth, India, a dedication stone was unveiled which read:

“This building is dedicated to the Glory of God and to the Service of Humanity.”

Yet the building was neither a Buddhist temple nor a church, but a purpose built hall for a new movement that had arisen in the late nineteenth century, the Theosophical Society.

The Theosophical Hall, Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch [1926]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 8, IMG0085.

The Theosophical Society

The Theosophical Society was formed in New York in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), a Russian immigrant, who claimed to have visited Tibet and made contact with a group of secret mystics known as the ‘Masters’. In all likelihood Blavatsky had never visited Tibet (however, her grandfather was the Russian government’s appointed guardian of the Kalmyk people, descendants of Oirat Mongols who had migrated to the Volga steppe of Russia in the seventeenth century and who followed Tibetan Buddhism). Blavatsky managed to convince Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), one of the founding members of the New York Confederacy of Spiritualists, as to the existence of the Masters and that she was the recipient of their doctrines. Together they worked to establish a movement of which the objectives were:

To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour.

To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science.

To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity.

Unable to establish itself on Spiritualist credentials alone, the Theosophical Society soon rebranded itself by appropriating the doctrines of Hinduism and Buddhism. To further this connection with the ancient faiths of India, the society relocated its international headquarters to Adyar, India, in 1882.

Theosophy in Christchurch

Theosophy soon became known in New Zealand through publications and visiting lecturers. Eventually the first lodge was founded in Wellington in 1888, with an Auckland lodge following in 1892.

On 13 May 1894 a meeting was held at the house of William Denne Meers, a clothing manufacturer, with the purpose of forming a Christchurch branch of the Theosophical Society. As a result, the Christchurch lodge was officially established on 28 June 1894. Without any formal premises, the society initially met in rooms at the Opera House at 214 Tuam Street. In the years that followed, the lodge was visited by prominent overseas members, including social reformer Annie Besant (1847-1933) in October 1894 and Henry Steel Olcott in September 1897.

A month after the visit by Olcott, the lodge moved to what was then 130 Lichfield Street, opposite Bennett’s corner. In mid-1900, it relocated to Hobbs’ Buildings on the north side of Cathedral Square (the present site of Tūranga). By 1906, its meetings were held at 150 Worcester Street (opposite the Federal Club). Eventually, in 1910, the lodge took up residence in Manchester Chambers at 263 Manchester Street where it remained until the Cambridge Terrace hall was established.

Sure to Rise

Thomas J. Edmonds (1858-1932) was a successful Christchurch businessman who was most famous for his baking powder and the factory which produced it (now the site of the Edmonds Factory Garden). With his wealth, he contributed to the architecture of the city, with notable examples being the Band Rotunda on Cambridge Terrace and the Radiant Hall on Kilmore Street. Although he was not a member of the Theosophical Society, his daughter Beatrice often attended the society’s meetings. When the society began fundraising for a purpose built hall in 1925, Edmonds offered his financial assistance.

Cecil Wood

The building was designed by prominent architect, Cecil W. Wood (1878-1947) who, from 1922, took an interest in Georgian architecture (one of his notable works being the residence of the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, Bishopscourt, on Park Terrace). The tender for its construction was awarded to the building firm D. Scott and Son.

While other Theosophical Society halls in New Zealand, such as Wellington (1918) and Auckland (1922) were designed in the Classical architectural style, Wood chose Neo-Georgian for the Christchurch lodge. Constructed from brick, and rectangular in form, the building’s sparse street front was enlivened by the use of multi-paned windows and quoins. Classical elements were still included in the form an entrance framed by a triangular pediment set atop two pillars.

Within, various rooms including a library, kitchen and chapel (for use by the Liberal Catholic Church of Saint Francis) were accessed from a central hallway. At the rear of the building was the central lecture hall, which could seat up to 120 individuals (although it was originally intended to seat more). The second floor of the building eventually became the home of the Christchurch Lodge of Universal Co-masonry and the Esoteric Society.

Theosophical Hall, 267 Cambridge Terrace, 31 March 2011. Kete Christchurch. Theosophical_Hall__267_Cambridge_Terrace___31_March_2011____P3310167. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

The end

The Theosophical Society in Christchurch and the Liberal Catholic Church of Saint Francis continued to use the hall until it was damaged in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake. Despite being a heritage listed building, it was subsequently demolished in 2012. Following the demolition of the hall, the Christchurch branch of the Theosophical Society now meets at the Canterbury Workers’ Educational Association building.

Demolition of the Theosophical Hall, 23 June 2012. Kete Christchurch. Demolition_of_the_Theosophical_Hall__23_June_2012__SAM_7293. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Find out more

Daresbury Rookery, 67 Fendalton Road, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

Daresbury Rookery, 67 Fendalton Road, Christchurch [ca. 1902]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 10, IMG0030.
Daresbury Rookery, 67 Fendalton Road, Christchurch [ca. 1902].

This photograph shows Daresbury, a 50-room house on 25 acres, designed by S. Hurst Seager and built between 1897 and 1901 for George Humphreys (1848 or 9-1934), co-founder of the wine and spirits merchants Fletcher Humphries. Until 1945 the property was called Daresbury Rookery because of a colony of rooks that made its home in about 100 bluegums planted on the property in 1862 by Jane Deans. A snowstorm in 1945 damaged the trees and the rooks left.

Do you have any photographs of Daresbury Rookery? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Los Angeles, North West Corner: Picturing Canterbury

Los Angeles, North West Corner. Kete Christchurch. Los_Angeles___North_West_Corner. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Los Angeles is a bungalow at 110 Fendalton Road built in 1909.

Photograph taken 21 March 2003.

Do you have any photographs of Los Angeles bungalow or Fendalton Road? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Los Angeles is one of the earliest examples of a California bungalow to be built in New Zealand. It was constructed sometime between 1909 and 1913 for its owner, Captain James McDonald, a trader. Opinion differs as to the origins of the material used in its construction. One tradition states that the kitset form of the house was brought out from California by McDonald. The other, that only the weatherboards and cedar shingles were imported from the United States. However, the chimneys, roadside fences, and verandah pillars were built from Canterbury riverstones.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

St. Mary’s Bridle Path Road, Heathcote – Snow – Church next door to “Hillwood”: Picturing Canterbury

St. Mary’s Bridle Path Road, Heathcote – Snow – Church next door to “Hillwood”. File Reference Gimblett-0013.

St. Mary’s Bridle Path Road, Heathcote – Snow – Church next door to “Hillwood”.

Date: 1900s.

Built in 1860, St Mary’s Anglican church in Heathcote was originally situated on Bridle Path Road. Additions were made to the church building in 1914. In 1925 the building was relocated to its current location on the corner of Martindales and Truscotts roads.

Do you have any photographs of St Mary’s Church, Heathcote? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

St. Marys, Bridle Path Road, Heathcote

A luncheon interval on Mt Sebastopol while on a ski trip at Mount Cook National Park: Picturing Canterbury

A luncheon interval on Mt Sebastopol while on a ski trip at Mount Cook National Park [1926?]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 14 IMG0086
Do you have any photographs of skiing in Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

A Luncheon Interval On Mt Sebastopol While On A Ski Trip At Mount Cook National Park

The family of Arthur John Inwood (1850-1932) and his wife Angelina (1860?-1919) pictured outside their dwelling: Picturing Canterbury

The family of Arthur John Inwood (1850-1932) and his wife Angelina (1860?-1919) pictured outside their dwelling [ca. 1900]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0003.
Arthur Inwood farmed in the Burwood area and gave his name to Inwoods Road.

Do you have any photographs of early Burwood? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

The Rangiora Fire Station, North Canterbury: Picturing Canterbury

The Rangiora Fire Station, North Canterbury. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 5, IMG0012.

The Rangiora Fire Station, North Canterbury  [ca. 1900].

The fire brigade was formed in 1874. The sheds at left were built in 1877 to house the engines. The bell tower was built in 1896 to replace an old one.

Do you have any photographs of fire stations in Christchurch and Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

The Rangiora Fire Station, North Canterbury

Messrs Minson & Co.’s Premises, Colombo Street, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

Messrs Minson & Co.’s premises, Colombo Street, Christchurch [1898]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0020.
This was for many years a leading Christchurch crockery and glassware store. It was opened on 1 Jan. 1857 in Colombo Street by William Neeve, an ironmonger, who owned it for 16 years before selling it to John Hallifield Spencer in 1873. Later owners were James Mortlock and Thomas Hudson who traded as Mortlock and Hudson. In 1892 William Minson took over the business, renaming it Minson and Company. The shop was situated at 220 Colombo Street, Sydenham.

Do you have any photographs of former Christchurch businesses? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Messrs Minson & Co.’s Premises, Colombo Street, Christchurch

Women of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAFs) on parade at Harewood Air Force Station, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

Women of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAFs) on parade at Harewood Air Force Station, Christchurch [1941]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0095.
On 31 May 1941, forty-one women started in their positions as members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) at Harewood Air Force Station. At the commencement of their duties, it was expected that they would soon be joined by further recruits, bringing the total number of WAAF members serving at Harewood to one hundred and fifty, with another two hundred expected for the station at Wigram.

Do you have any photographs of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in Christchurch or of the Harewood Air Force Station? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.