One of the most important moments in my youth was going to my first orchestral concert, which was held at Canterbury Court around 1968. This experience ignited a life long interest in orchestral music for me.
The Civic Orchestra, as it was then called, performed Peter and the Wolf, the first full length orchestral piece I had heard. The narrator, I discovered recently in a history of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, was Ngaio Marsh. This was a bit of a shock because, for some reason I thought it was Ray Columbus! Presumably that was my idea of famous at the time (I was only twelve ok?).
One thing marred the performance. It rained and the rain drumming loudly on the corrugated iron roof drowned out the music at times. This was a common hazard for performances in both Canterbury Court and at the King Edward Barracks, where concerts were sometimes held before we had the Town Hall. As I remember it, even the 1963 concert for the Queen was in the Barracks, because there was nowhere else big enough for the massed choirs and orchestra to perform.
Sadly I can find no photographs of either the Barracks (except under construction or destruction) or Canterbury Court, in our extensive historical photograph collection. Does anyone out there have any? Or any recollections of these pre-Town Hall performances?
King Edward Barracks, corner of Cashel and Montreal Streets, Christchurch.
This photograph shows the army barracks under construction in 1905. Sidney Luttrell (1872-1932), who is pictured in the right foreground with his brother Alfred on the left, designed 21 latticed, curved steel girders to span the 36.5m width as economically as possible and to support the curved, corrugated iron roof. The girders, constructed by Scott Brothers, each weighed six tonnes. Twenty-five working days after it was begun the building was complete and opened on 26 July 1905.
It was used for drilling soldiers and later for civic functions and social occasions until the army withdrew in 1993 and the site was purchased by Ngai Tahu. The building was transported to Hornby where it was re-erected as a distribution warehouse in 2000
Contact us if you have any further information on any of the images. Do you have any photographs of this building? We love donations. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.
The Territorials cross the Bridge of Remembrance on the way to King Edward Barracks. [25 Apr. 1926]
Collated for 2009 Beca Heritage Week’s ‘Doves & Defences’ – Discover Christchurch in Peace and Conflict
Christchurch City Libraries is inviting the public to be part of a gathering and documentation of historical photos on peace and conflict in Christchurch from 14 September until 23 October. We are collecting images of Canterbury’s involvement in peace and conflict over the years and will publish them on the libraries’ Flickr site. This year we are looking at three broad themes in fitting with this years Heritage Week: Life at Home, Away from Home, and Peace and Remembrance. So gather up those photos and send them in! The Christchurch City L ibraries Photo Hunt 2009 is open from 14 September until 23 October and is part of the Beca Heritage Week’s ‘Doves & Defences’ celebrations. Winners will be announced and contacted on the 2nd November 2009.