From the Sign of the Takahe: Picturing Canterbury

From the Sign of the Takahe. Kete Christchurch. PH13-135. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Taken from the Sign of the Takahe out a window across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps.

Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt.

Photo Hunt 2017: Plains, Port Hills & Peninsula – Finding our way

This year the theme for Photo Hunt is Plains, Port Hills & Peninsula – Finding our way. However, the photos you submit are not limited to this theme. We invite you to share any of your photos and help grow the city’s photographic archive. All entries must be received by 31 October.

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

Isaac House

Isaac House stands in solitary splendour on the corner of Colombo and Armagh Streets. Located at 779 Colombo Street, it is a Category 2 listed heritage building in the distinctive Georgian Revival style. It was completed in 1927 for Henry Owen, proprietor of chemists
Cook and Ross. If — like me — you are a fan of this architectural style, 69 Worcester Street is another fine example.

The owners of  Isaac House kindly let the public in to have a gander yesterday to see how they have restored this gem. Here are some photos from the past, and yesterday.

Male and female cabin crew of TEAL standing at the corner of Colombo and Armagh Streets [ca. 1960] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0044
Male and female cabin crew of TEAL standing at the corner of Colombo and Armagh Streets
[ca. 1960]
CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0044
National Bank
National Bank 1963. Corner of Colombo and Armagh Streets. Flickr HW-08-FE-12
Victoria Square and Armagh Street
Wednesday 17 September 2014. Flickr 2014-09-17-IMG_2188
Isaac House
Wednesday 11 October 2017. Flickr 2017-10-11-IMG_3833

More about Isaac House

Beth El Synagogue and the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation

A decision had been made.

It was time for Hyam Edward Nathan to give up his seat.

The members of Christchurch’s Jewish community, who arrived at the New Year service on 13 September 1882, knew to expect trouble when they saw that Nathan was already sitting in his self-appointed seat, B29.

The issue of Nathan assigning himself this seat had been raised at a recent meeting of the officers of the synagogue. Nathan, who had been present at the meeting, challenged the others to force him to give up his seat.

The seating of the synagogue, which opened only a year earlier, had been allocated by subscription, with the prime seats in sections A and B costing 3 shillings and 2 shillings a week. Seating in the C section was not allotted, due to the low number of applicants, and despite the free seating available, Nathan had taken it upon himself to sit in the lowest ranking seat of section B. Yet his free occupation of B29 had not gone unnoticed. Since 13 September was a holiday, it was important for the proper seat allocation to be followed, as B29 had been assigned to another member of the congregation.

Charles Louisson, the synagogue treasuer, took it upon himself to deal with the stubborn Nathan. After the ordinary services had finished, he approached Nathan and quietly pointed out that the seat had been reserved. Nathan was then ordered to vacate the seat by Maurice Harris, the synagogue president. Realising the matter would not be so easily settled, Constable Costin was summoned but upon arriving the policeman refused to become involved. Nathan then boldly stated he would not leave unless he was carried out. In response, Harris grabbed Nathan by the collar and with the assistance of Louisson, removed him from the seat and from the synagogue altogether.

Nathan would later take the matter to court, alleging that Harris and Louisson had assaulted him. However, the judge ruled in favour of the latter, showing that as they were officers of the synagogue, and since Nathan had no legal right to the seat, he had been in the wrong.

Beth El Synagogue, Christchurch [1906]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 4, IMG0008

The Canterbury Hebrew Congregation

The founding a Jewish congregation in Christchurch, the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation, was first initiated in 1864, following a meeting held on 12 January at the High Street offices of auctioneer, Louis Edward Nathan (not to be confused with Hyam). Attending was Hyam Marks, Maurice Harris, E. Phillips, Marcus Sandstein, David Davis, Henry Moss, and S.M. Solomon. Gifted a plot of land on Gloucester Street by the government, the congregation built its first synagogue in 1864. To ensure the orthodoxy of their practice, traditional ritual items were sourced from various locations including a shofar (horn), ketubah (prenuptial agreement), and a mezuzah (prayers affixed to a door) from Melbourne, a Sefer Torah (scroll of Jewish law) from London, a lulav (enclosed date palm fronds) and matzah (unleavened bread) from Sydney, and an ethrog (citrus fruit) from the Holy Land.

While there were around thirty five prominent Jewish families in Christchurch at this time, many would soon depart for the West Coast to open businesses on the goldfields.

With the conclusion of the gold rush in 1870, many of these families returned to Christchurch. While majority of the early Jewish settlers in Christchurch were English Jews or Jews from Europe, they would soon appoint Isaac Zachariah, a Sephardic Jew from Baghdad, as their rabbi. Trained in Jerusalem, Zachariah had also served the Sassoon family in Bombay, India as a shohet (ritual butcher). After his time in India, he settled in Ballarat, Australia, before relocating to the Hokitika goldfields.

The wedding of Mr L P Hayman of Sydney to Mrs Lillie Marks, third daughter of Mr Maurice Harris of Christchurch at Beth El Synagogue, Gloucester Street, Christchurch [15 Oct. 1901]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0087
Due to his eclectic background, Zachariah could speak not only Hebrew but Arabic, Hindi, and forms of Aramaic. He was often called upon to translate at court trials involving individuals who spoke the languages in which he was fluent. Despite adhering firmly to his own customs and traditional forms of dress, Zachariah was tolerant of other faiths, and often engaged with members of the Anglican community. He also oversaw the establishment of the Christchurch branch of the Anglo-Jewish Association, an organisation dedicated to promoting the rights of Jewish people in regions outside of the British Empire.

Although a traditionalist, Zachariah possessed a rebellious streak, and often clashed with the congregation’s presiding committee. He was known for disregarding their orders, and in one case, he pre-emptively foiled their plans to export frozen kosher meat by writing to the Chief Rabbi in England to receive confirmation that frozen meat could not be considered kosher.

Beth El Synagogue

It was during Zachariah’s tenure that the new synagogue, Beth El, was built to replace the original wooden synagogue. Designed by Thomas Stoddart Lambert, the foundation stone was laid on 8 February 1881, whereupon it was sprinkled with corn, wine, oil and herbs. The synagogue was officially consecrated on 15 November 1881. Presided over by Zachariah, the ceremony was also attended by Anglican officials, some of whom had learned Hebrew from Zachariah.

Landau carriages arrive with the wedding party at Beth El Synagogue, Christchurch [1901] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0079
The committee’s relationship with Zachariah deteriorated until he was eventually forced to resign. In 1889 he was replaced by Adolf Treitel Chodowski. Originally from Posen in Prussia, Chodowski had studied in Berlin before being admitted to the Jews’ College in London. Despite his popularity, the congregation could not afford to maintain his salary and he was forced to take up another position in Brisbane in 1894. The committee’s inability to provide a professional rabbi in the years that followed the departure of Chodowski eventually led them to allow Zachariah to return to the position. He would continue to serve the Jewish community in Christchurch until his death in 1906. He was buried in the Jewish section of Linwood Cemetery.

The Beth El synagogue would remain an iconic feature of Gloucester Street until it was demolished in 1987. In the following year a new synagogue was consecrated at 406 Durham Street. Although it suffered damage in the Canterbury earthquakes, it was repaired and reopened in 2013, where it continues to offer services every Shabbat.

Find out more

Curragh Cottage, Ferrymead Heritage Park, 3 April 2010: Picturing Canterbury

Curragh Cottage, Ferrymead Heritage Park, 3 April 2010. Kete Christchurch. Ferrymead_Heritage_Park__3_April_2010__IMG_7194. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Curragh Cottage, Ferrymead Heritage Park.

Originally erected at 104 Holly Road and relocated to Ferrymead Heritage Park in 1972.

Photograph taken 3 April 2010.

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

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

Postcard Hilltop Hotel: Picturing Canterbury

Postcard Hilltop Hotel. Kete Christchurch. PH16-044. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Postcard of old Hilltop Hotel on Summit Road, Christchurch-Akaroa Highway.

Entry in the 2016 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Gladys Gurney.

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

Do you have any further photographs of the Hill Top Hotel? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Cathedral Square: Past and Future

Cathedral Square has long been an important civic space for Christchurch. In its time it has functioned as a transport hub and “movie theatre central”. It’s been a meeting place, and a stage for political protest, debate and speeches. It has been the home to markets, tourism operators, and of course, a cathedral. Numerous concerts have been held there and recently it has hosted a temporary ice-rink. From mid next year it will also have a shiny, new library in its North-East corner.

Regenerate Christchurch recently released some draft concepts for what Cathedral Square might look like in the future. And they are looking for feedback (until 21 August – so get in with your reckons).

Cathedral Square is a place with a many memories for Christchurch people and it has changed a great deal over the years. So while you’re considering what The Square of the future should be like, have a look at these glimpses of its past.

Crowd in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, celebrating Armistice Day. Head, Samuel Heath, d 1948 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-007108-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22898377

 

Love the special sign for “Pedestrians” in this street photo from 1938.

Naomi Poulsen and friends in front of the Cathedral, 1938. by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Victory celebration stirs Christchurch crowds. Christchurch turned out yesterday en masse to attend the second day of Victory Celebrations. A section of the crowd in the Square. 10 May 1945, The Press, 11 May 1945, p.8

 

Though there’s no date provided for this photo of Cathedral Square covered in snow, the presence of the Citizens’ War Memorial, far left, (unveiled in 1937) means it might be the snow of July, 1945.

Snow in town, Cathedral. by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

The Plaza Theatre originally opened as The Strand in 1917. In this photo the neighbouring United Service Hotel can be seen at left with the Women’s Rest Rooms at right. The theatre was demolished in 1990.

Plaza Theatre, Cathedral Square, 1946. Plaza Theatre, Cathedral Square by Patricia Scott is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Jacqui Taylor’s father leading a procession in front of the Christchurch Cathedral. He sang in the Cathedral Choir, Late 1940’s, File reference: HW10-S-Fe-020. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Cathedral Square decorated in honour of the Queen and Prince Phillip. Date: 1950s by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

A common street photograph pose near the Citizens’ War Memorial.

Pauline Ormandy (left) and Colleen Finn (right) by the Cathedral as 16 year olds. File reference: HW10-Sh-161 Cathedral Cuties, 1964, by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 3.0 New Zealand

 

Long hair and sandals in the seventies.

This was taken in the Square in Easter 1971, File Reference: HWC08-ANZC-080, Bible Lady by CityScape is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

An orderly bus queue on a sunny afternoon, in the late 70s or early 80s.

Chief Post Office by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Obligatory Wizard photo.

The Wizard (“C’mon Canterbury”) on ladder). I took this photo in Cathedral Square early in 1982. I later returned and gave the wizard a copy. He showed it to the crowd, announcing himself to be “A living work of art”. The Wizard, Cathedral Square, 1982 by Julia Thomas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

A busy day in Cathedral Square, probably in the 1990s

View of Post Office buildings in the Square by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Christchurch Arts Festival sculpture “Snow Orchid” and Speigeltent venue in background, 2007.

Snow Orchid was installed in Cathedral Square for the 2007 Christchurch Arts Festival. The work was designed by Strategy Design and Advertising and constructed by Warwick Bell of Fabric Structure Systems. Snow Orchid Christchurch Arts Festival 2007 DSC06625 by SueC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Many protests and demonstrations have taken place in Cathedral Square over the years. This one in 2010 resulted in Neville Toohey being arrested.

Neville Toohey locked himself on the balcony of the Christchurch Cathedral and unfurled a banner with the name of his anti-ACC website over the side of the building. Mr Toohey was protesting after being denied back surgery by ACC. After spending the night on the balcony, Mr Toohey left the Cathedral at 1.00pm and was arrested and charged with trespass. ACC Protest, Cathedral Square, Christchurch, 26 March 2010 by KeteScape is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Cathedral Square as it looks now. But what does the future hold?

Christchurch: Where the children of today enjoy and shape the dreams of tomorrow, 10 October 2014. Entry in the Christchurch City Council Long Term Plan 2015 – 2025 Photography Competition by Len Jingco. LTPLeJi by SueC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

Find out more

Fiona Farrell: Writing big and the best in Decline and fall on Savage Street

“It had to be as beautiful as I could get it.”

These were the words Fiona Farrell used on Tuesday night at the launch of her new book Decline and fall on Savage Street in order to describe her challenge of writing something big. This “big” is here now. It is complete. And it is a rich and endlessly rewarding read.

It consists of two parts: the nonfiction masterpiece, Villa at the edge of the empire, which explores Christchurch’s initial build and after earthquake rebuild in a factual way and its twin fiction sister Decline and fall on Savage Street – the latter one just freshly released, still hot from the press, its cover beautifully alluring.

DSC_0138
Alluring cover of Fiona Farrell’s new book.

Even more alluring that evening were words: Fiona in an electrifying conversation with Liz Grant, reading abstracts from both books, convincing, charged, punchy slices of masterly crafted writing, seasoned with a refined sprinkle of wit. Organised by Word Christchurch, the launch of the book was hosted in Christchurch Art Gallery and offered first glimpses in the imagined yet the entirely credible world, characters and events of a house on Savage Street.

But the house is more than just a setting, it grows into a structural device, it becomes the anchor of the novel – on narrative and formal level. It is the connecting point, a node, where stories of characters, who lived in the house, intersect. The idea for the form stems from the city and its shattering. The chapters work as separate stories and are like “little pieces of timber”, shattered disconnected pieces, “100 fragments of human condition”, as Liz described it. It is a salvage book.

It’s not the house alone which connects and binds all these pieces, all these different voices. It is the river, with its own time, rhythm and a creature, that runs through the novel and weaves in more balanced and assuring antipode, which belongs to the natural realm.

DSC_0141
Beautifully designed details and typography contributes to pleasurable overall reading experience.

It takes a lot of discipline and masterful, intelligent mind to shape each single piece in such a concentrated and sublime way Fiona did – every single word has its own place and the magnificent is revealed in delicate nuances. Material for rich and powerful stories was sourced from real life stories, talks with friends and random strangers at the petrol stations, newspapers, books. “There was an amazing openness, everyone was ready to talk,” Fiona describes the post earthquake era, filled with stories.

Most often, the challenge of research and writing is rewarded with surprises: “Writing is constant discovery, it’s a constancy of surprises. One of the pleasures of writing is finding connections, where you don’t expect them.”

And such is the reading of this book as well – full of surprises and pleasure.

“I wanted to write something big. I wanted to make it the best I could,” concluded Fiona on Tuesday night. This book certainly is BIG and its greatness will grow with each single reading. Its sharp structure, complex characters, refined language and relevant political, social and environmental themes guarantee this work is destined to be a prize winner, but most of all, it deserves to be read over and over again by its readers.

Find out more:

Whalebone Cottage – 704 Ferry Road: Picturing Canterbury

Whalebone Cottage – 704 Ferry Road. Kete Christchurch. Ferry_Road_704. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

The house, situated on the former route from the Heathcote Ferry to Christchurch, was built in c.1867 for Daniel and Maria Scott. At the time of their occupancy it was known as “The Homestead”. However, by the early 1880s it had earned the name, Whalebone Cottage, due to the use of whalebones to form a decorative arch over the front gate.

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

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

Cathedral Square by Night 1959: Picturing Canterbury

Cathedral Square by Night 1959. Kete Christchurch. Ph16-IsTw-C-W-PICT0047. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

“Cathedral Square by night the northwest corner with the start of Chancery Lane under the bright white light. The Tivoli theatre later became the Westend, a huge cinema (scene of many happy nights out in my teenage years) complete with cat known to sleep on seats at the back. The old building to the left was later the site of the AMP building, and the one to the right became the Government Life building.”

Date: 18 August 1959.

Entry in the 2016 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Isabel Tweedy.

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

Do you have any further photographs of Cathedral Square in the 1950s? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Sumner Gas Works, two views, 1958 and 2010: Picturing Canterbury

Sumner Gasworks, two views, 1958 and 2010. Kete Christchurch. PH14-MaNo-SumnerGasworks-2Viewsl. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

View 1958: This is taken from a clay bank, looking down over the Sumner Gasworks on the corner of Wakefield Ave and Truro Street, Sumner. We lived in the stoker’s old home showing at the top left of the GasHolder ( which is still there today). Probably a rare view of the Gasworks which really doesnt seem to have had many photos taken of, apart from by our family who lived there about 45 years. The accompanying photo of my painting ( with the much smaller Gasholder ) is of the opposite view from our front door area.

View 2010: Triggered by the Sept 4 2010 Quake, I painted this watercolour of the Sumner Gasworks, which was situated on the corner of Wakefield Ave and Truro Street. My Dad, Roy Bradley, was a stoker there for 23 years from 1937 and stoked the last retort on Mon 20th Feb 1961. The Stokehouse was Demolished in 1970.

This is the View I lived with for 20 years. Is from our old home, the Stoker’s house next door. Painted mainly from memory with the help of a pencil sketch of my dad’s, and the background of a photo of family member. I’ve painted the Gas Holder much smaller than it was (artistic licence) as you will see in the other photo.

The painting view was just painted in 2010 but from sketches, old photo and memory. It is not how the Gasworks looked in 2010 as it was closed in 1960 and gone with-in a year or 2. I’d say the view I painted could be also dated as 1958 ( but painted 50 years later).

Date: 1958, 2010

Entry in the 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Margaret Norwood.

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

Do you have any further photographs of the Sumner Gasworks? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.