In 1879 pioneer cycling enthusiasts formed the Pioneer Bicycle Club to foster ‘the new and exciting sport of bicycle racing’ and to cater for sportsmen from all around the South Island interested in cycling. In 1889 the club amalgamated with the Canterbury Amateur Athletic Club, also founded in 1879, to form the Pioneer Amateur Bicycle & Athletic Club. In 1933 the name of the club reverted to the Pioneer Amateur Sports Club. The club was disbanded in 1968 and the club building on Gloucester Street was eventually demolished to make way for the then new Central Library.
Do you have any photographs of penny farthings in Christchurch or the Pioneer Amateur Sports Club? 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 train was already late when it arrived at Arthur’s Pass on the morning of 30 July 1933.
On board were members of three different tramping clubs, including those of the Canterbury Mountaineering Club and the Canterbury College University Tramping Club. Undeterred by the bad weather which had already set in, a disorganised mass of nearly forty individuals with no real leadership set out to climb Avalanche Peak. By the time they reached the snowline only twenty members remained, the others having already turned back. Although visibility was by now greatly reduced, they pushed on into the falling snow and driving wind. At the forefront were two experienced climbers, Andrew Anderson and William Brough. When they were nearly two hundred feet from the summit the mountain finally lived up to its name.
An avalanche crashed down the slope, knocking them over and scattering equipment. After checking to see if anyone was missing, the rest of the party decided to turn back, leaving Anderson and Brough to summit on their own. They were successful and managed to safely descend to the village at Arthur’s Pass. There they joined the rest of the club members in boarding the return train to Christchurch.
It wasn’t until the train had left the station that people finally realised that Samuel Edgar Russell, a university student, was missing. Some club members disembarked at Springfield station and caught a ride on a truck back to Arthur’s Pass where they began to organise a search. Teams of climbers scoured the mountain over the next few days, but it wasn’t until August 6 that Russell’s body was found buried by the avalanche. His tragic death served to highlight the dangers that awaited those who ventured into Canterbury’s mountains, regardless of how well equipped and experienced one might be.
Kā Tiritiri-o-te-Moana, the Southern Alps.
The earliest account of mountaineering in Canterbury is attributed to a Ngāti Wairangi woman, Raureka, and her slave companion, Kapakeha. In 1700, after a disagreement with her community, they crossed the Southern Alps at a point which today is known as Noti Raureka-Browning Pass. Their chance encounter with a party of Ngāi Tahu led to the establishment of the pounamu trade between the east and west coast tribes. The increase in this trade prompted the discovery of further mountain passes. Sustained by a sparse diet of dried berries, eels and weka, the explorers journeyed into these remote heights did so with only flax ropes and sandals as a means of overcoming the inhospitable terrain.
Following the European settlement of Canterbury, surveyors such as Arthur Dobson, often accompanied by Māori guides, followed these pre-established routes into the Southern Alps to map the terrain for the local government. Despite these initial forays, it wasn’t until the end of the nineteenth century that mountaineering came to be considered a recreational activity. This was largely due to the efforts of Cantabrians such as George Edward Mannering and Arthur Paul Harper. Not wishing to see the peaks of the Southern Alps conquered by foreigners, they set about developing a New Zealand tradition of mountaineering which they disseminated through works such as Mannering’s With Axe and Rope in the New Zealand Alps(1891).
Their efforts led to the formation of the New Zealand Alpine Club in 1891, the first meeting of which was held in Warner’s Hotel in Cathedral Square. The aim of the club was to teach the mountaineering methods that were practiced in the European Alps, gather geographical knowledge of New Zealand’s mountains, and establish routes. In December that year, Mannering led the first expedition to summit low peak on Mount Rolleston near Arthur’s Pass (however the mountain wasn’t successfully climbed until 1912).
The Headquarters of Mountaineering in Canterbury
In 1923 the Midland Railway line, which followed the old coach road from Christchurch to Greymouth, was officially opened. The mountains surrounding the village of Arthur’s Pass were now easily accessible to those trampers who, having tested themselves on the Port Hills, now wished to advance to more strenuous challenges. As such, the region soon became known as the “headquarters of mountaineering in Canterbury” and in 1925 the Canterbury Mountaineering Club was formed. However, the glory of climbing the highest peak in the region, Mount Murchison, had already been attained in 1913 by Charles Ward and Arthur Talbot.
Affordable train fares to Arthur’s Pass only served to attract further visitors to the settlement, with 20,000 people visiting in 1927. However, the sudden influx of visitors began to take its toll on the local environment. A common complaint was the habit of visitors to pick mountain flowers, often taking more than was necessary. In 1928, Guy Butler, who had opened the Arthur’s Pass Hostel in 1926, petitioned for the region to receive official protection. In 1929 the area was designated as a national park, the first in the South Island.
Since then the village has continued to draw visitors, both local and foreign, who use it as a base from which to venture forth into the surrounding mountains. While many are fortunate enough to make frequent return journeys, for others, such as Samuel Edgar Russell, the mountains can prove fatal.
A crash at Wigram in 1953 remains the worst RNZAF crash in New Zealand history, killing seven men.
Two Royal New Zealand Air Force De Havilland Devons, the NZ1811 and NZ1810 from RNZAF Station Wigram, collided over Wigram Aerodrome. They had been part of the last section of a 27 aircraft flypast over Harewood International Airport (as Christchurch airport was then called) marking the 1953 London to Christchurch Air Race Prize Giving Ceremony.
When the formation broke up as the aircraft prepared to land back at Wigram, NZ1811 was struck on the wing by its “No. 2”, NZ1810. Both aircraft immediately lost control and plunged to the ground in a paddock at nearby Halswell, killing all aboard. This is still the highest loss of life incurred by the Royal New Zealand Air Force in a single New Zealand accident. They were:
Squadron Leader: Sholto R Duncan
Pilots: Flight Lieutenants Ebbett and Flight Lieutenant Ziesler.
Crewmen: Brian J Keogh, Eric Melrose, William Sharman, Russell Woodcock.
Now this terrible accident has been commemorated in Wigram by naming two of the new streets Edwin Ebbett Place and Erling Ziesler Lane
To read the original account in The Press of 16 October 1953 p. 10, you can visit the Central Library Manchester Street, and see the pages in microfilm – ask one of our lovely staff for assistance if you haven’t used microfilm before.
Following the 75th Anniversary of Wigram Air Base on 25 August 1992, it was closed on 14 September 1995.
New Brighton beach used to host motorcycle racing. On 22 March 1907 a tragedy marred the racing. The motorcyclist involved was William Barnard Rhodes Moorhouse who had an interesting bicultural heritage and went on to become the first airman to win a Victoria Cross in World War I. A daredevil with motorbikes, cars and planes, the New Brighton crash wasn’t the only fatality he was involved in. The NZ Truth newspaper reports reflect the attitudes and language of the time:
In a 1913 story headlined “A curious cable”:
Grim memories … were aroused in Christchurch when the local dailies printed this cablegram: London 29 January
W. H. R. Moorhouse, the aviator, was fined 20 pounds for Criminal negligence. While motoring, he killed a farm labourer.… Moorhouse… is … William Barnard Rhodes Moorhouse, who started his sanguinary career … on 22 March 1907 when, 19 years of age, accidentally it was held, he killed a boy of seven …Frederick … Gourlay, on … New Brighton beach. He was making a speed trial of his motor cycle … when the child was … bumped into the next world. Moorhouse … charged with manslaughter and committed for trial … was the son of wealthy … parents and the Grand Jury, acting up to the disgraceful traditions of grand juries in Christchurch, protected one of their own … and insulted the lower court by bringing in ‘no bill’.
…. The police were prompt in laying a fresh information …. The magistrate [was] satisfied that there was a prima facie case …. At the August sittings of the Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Chapman devoted the greater part of his address to the Moorhouse manslaughter case ….The Grand Jury brought in a true bill and the young man had to stand … trial like any common person although he had the best brains … that money could buy. Skerrett K. C.. had with him barrister Wilding for the defence.
… The beach had been used, with the acquiescence of the New Brighton Borough Council, for … motor bike races …. A young man named Ritchie shot past with the speed of as meteorite escaping from its creditors and Moorhouse followed ….Gourlay, apparently transfixed with terror, was biffed into Kingdom Come.
Lawyer Skerrett … let … loose in a remarkable address to the jury who were asked if … Moorhouse were to start his manhood with the brand of Cain on his brow which … would give his enemies … an opportunity to point him out as a convicted felon. Moorhouse … would some day take the responsibilities of a rich man …. If he had been a poor man’s son, it wouldn’t have been thought necessary to have proceeded with the charge against him …. The jury … returned a verdict of not guilty ….
At the time of the accident, NZ truth had written:
Moorhouse is a beardless youth who isn’t long out of the Old Country and is related to Dr. Moorhouse, the well-known Christchurch medico …. The doctor went bail for the youngster …The father of the deceased … Arthur Lansdown Gourlay … is a draper’s assistant …. He admitted in the box … that Moorhouse had acted in a sympathetic and honourable manner…. from which it may be inferred that the parents of the deceased have been compensated for their sad loss.
William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse (1887-1915) was the grandson of the fabulously wealthy William Barnard Rhodes (1807-78), one of the pioneer Rhodes brothers. His grandmother was Maori woman, Otahi. William’s mother, Mary Anne Rhodes, fought for her inheritance and became one of the richest women in New Zealand. W. B. Rhodes had married Sarah Ann Moorhouse and, in 1883, Mary Anne married her stepmother’s brother, Edward. Mary Anne and her husband went to England where their children were born.
William spent most of his life in England. He was a pioneer aviator and, in World War I, joined the Royal Flying Corps. He was wounded by ground fire when dropping his 45 kg bomb on a railway junction in Belgium. He limped back, coming under further ground fire. He reached his base, landed, insisted on making his report, was removed to hospital and died.
This information came from Richard Greenaway – an expert on the local history of Christchurch. Some of you might have been on one of his fascinating cemetery tours. 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.
There is nothing particularly remarkable about the way Lisa Genova writes, but for some reason I couldn’t put her novel Left Neglected down. My life is nothing like the main character’s: I’m not married; I don’t have any children; I’m not especially career driven, nor do I dream about having a big house in the suburbs; and my brain doesn’t ignore information on the left side of the world. Yet I was completely and utterly engrossed in Sarah Nickerson’s journey to recovery from a traumatic brain injury.
I had never heard of the fascinating neurological syndrome Left Neglect until I picked up this book, but apparently it’s quite common. Lisa Genova has a PhD in neuroscience and obviously did extensive research on the syndrome in order to write about it.
I found myself covering my left eye at times to try to understand what it would be like to think that the left side of the page I am reading or the food on the left side of my plate doesn’t exist because my brain can’t register it. I tried to imagine not being able to feel my left arm or leg, as if these limbs were separate from the rest of me, as if they belonged to someone else entirely.
It was Jodi Picoult’s rave review printed on the cover of Left Neglected that made me want to read this book. I’m glad I did. While there are many differences between Sarah and I, there is one key experience I could relate to, and this is what I loved most about her story: I understand what it’s like to have your life changed forever in an instant; everything you have to adjust to and adjust within yourself as a result; and how, no matter what difficulties you must now face, you can always find the hidden blessing if you allow yourself to really look.
What books have you picked up just because another author you like has recommended it? Did you agree with their praise?