Ferrymead Heritage Park* is something of a Christchurch institution. Certainly when I was growing up any visit by out of town relatives was an excuse to take in the sights, and Ferrymead was on the top of the list.
To me, it has always been “old”, replicating, as it does, an Edwardian, early 1900s village. Given that the park has always been “stuck” in the same era it seems odd to think of it as a product of the 1960s, but in fact it is. It started in 1965 as the Museum of Science and Industry and Ferrymead celebrates its 50th anniversary this Labour Weekend.
Fifty years is quite an achievement for any tourist attraction, which by their nature tend to come and go with changing fashions.
The location of the park is significant as it was one of the first places new colonists came to after travelling the Bridle Path over the Port Hills. From 1851 a ferry service took them across the Heathcote River to the meadow on the other side, hence the name “ferrymead”.
In 1863 it was from Ferrymead that the first public rail services began, transporting goods and people that travelled from Lyttelton, into Christchurch. So it’s no surprise there’s such a strong rail history presence within the park.
The park itself is run by The Ferrymead Trust, which is actually a collection of individual societies that care for and maintain the various attractions and exhibitions within the park.
What are your best memories of Ferrymead? The Print shop, the schoolhouse? For me it’s the smell of cream buns wafting from the bakery.