Replica Leper’s Cottage, Quail Island, Lyttelton Harbour: Picturing Canterbury

Replica Leper’s Cottage, Quail Island, Lyttelton Harbour. Kete Christchurch. Replica-Leper_s-Cottage-Quail-Island-31-March-2013. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Date: 31 March 2013

Entry in the 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Jane Rodgers.

Quail Island was proclaimed a quarantine station on 11 February 1875. The first leprosy patient was Willa Vallane, who was confined to the island in 1906. A second was admitted in 1908, with a third in 1909. By 1925 there were eight patients in residence (a ninth, George Philips, made an escape after having being certified as cured). In that year the eight patients were relocated from Quail Island to a new “leper colony” on Makogai Island in the Pacific.

Do you have any photographs of Quail Island? 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.

Lighting up the winter nights – Lyttelton Harbour Festival of Lights, Friday 29 June 2018

This week is an exciting one for Lyttelton Library and our customers, with our fabulous Stories after Dark with Lindsey on Thursday night, and the awesome Lyttelton Harbour Festival of Lights on the evening of Friday 29 June.

Lyttelton Library’s Stories after Dark starts at 6.30pm on Thursday 28 June – head down to the library and join us for stories, songs and rhymes followed by crafts and hot chocolate. We will entertain your 4-7 year olds, and the whole family is welcome. Come along in your PJs and bring Teddy too!

Friday 29 June is the night for the annual, spectacular Lyttelton Festival of Lights! Lyttelton Library will be closed as usual, but we’ll be doing our bit with several lightshows in our own space, and projected onto neighbouring buildings. Come through the tunnel for fabulous food vendors, lively musical entertainment, the Lyttelton Primary School parade, and the Lyttelton Port of Christchurch fireworks display at 8pm!

Parking in Lyttelton is extremely limited, especially with the extensive roadworks going on at the moment. For a parking-stress-free evening, check out the festival park and ride information (scroll down to Public Transport Information).

Find out more

Lyttelton links

The following resources are helpful for Lyttelton visitors and locals:

Lyttelton Harbour with ships at dock and tugboat on the water [191-?]
Lyttelton Harbour with ships at dock and tugboat on the water [191-?], CCL PhotoCD 4, IMG0068

Map of a scheme suggested by the Port and City Committee showing a new road tunnel to Lyttelton: Picturing Canterbury

Map of a scheme suggested by the Port and City Committee showing a new road tunnel to Lyttelton [1926?] Port and City Committee (Christchurch, N.Z.). File Reference CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0001.
“An aerial view showing Christchurch in relation to the magnificent natural harbour of Lyttelton, and the proposed highway and vehicular tunnel through the barrier of the Port Hills which, in conjunction with the present railway, will enable the city to employ modern transport methods in the carriage of goods and passengers to and from the ships.”

Date: c.1926

Although a rail tunnel linking Lyttelton to Christchurch had been in existence since 1867, it wasn’t until 1956 that legislation was passed allowing for the construction of the Lyttelton Road Tunnel. Construction began in 1962 and was completed in 1964, opening on 27 February.

Do you have any photographs of the Lyttelton Road Tunnel? 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.

Map Of A Scheme Suggested By The Port And City Committee Showing A New Road Tunnel To Lyttelton

Defending Lyttelton: Torpedo Boat No. 168 Defender

Before 1885 there possibly would have been only a few people in New Zealand who had ever heard of the Panjdeh region in what is now Turkmenistan. To the British, it was considered a region of Afghanistan. The Russians, however, believed that the region was a tributary of Merv, a city that was part of the Khanate of Khiva, which had been a protectorate of the Russian Empire since 1873. For the British in India, the steady creep of the Russian Empire towards the north western borders of the Raj was a constant concern. Therefore, when Russian forces under General Alexander Komarov captured the Panjdeh region on 30 March 1885, it was expected that war between the two empires would immediately follow. Across the British Empire, all naval vessels were ordered to standby ready for deployment and the movement of all Russian military ships was closely monitored.

Lyttelton was ready to play its part in the defence of the empire with Torpedo Boat No. 168, Defender.

The Lyttelton Defender [1897]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 10, IMG0040.

Torpedo Boat No. 168 Defender

ENEMIES WITHIN OUR GATES., Wanganui Herald, Volume XVI, Issue 4585, 4 February 1882, Papers Past

The fear that New Zealand lay within the reach of Russian warships was made all too visible when, in 1881, the Russian war ship, Afrika visited Auckland. To defend its ports, New Zealand began to construct a series of costal fortifications. To accompany these fortifications, four torpedo boats were ordered.

Defender was one of four 2nd class Thornycroft Spar Torpedo Boats that were built in 1883 in Chiswick, London, by shipbuilding firm, John I. Thornycroft & Co. Powered by steam, and reaching 63 feet in length, each boat was armed with a McEvoy spar torpedo. Unlike the use of propelled torpedoes, which could be launched from a distance, spar torpedoes had to be driven into the side of the target. To provide cover as the boat moved to attack, a Nordenfeldt machine gun was situated on top of the conning tower.

After being tested, the boats were shipped to New Zealand, with the first two arriving aboard the Lyttelton in Port Chalmers on 9 May 1884. Assigned to Lyttelton, Defender arrived at the port in December 1884. The remaining boats were deployed to their new destinations. Taiaroa went to Port Chalmers, Waitemata to Devonport, and Poneke to Wellington. Following its arrival in Lyttelton, Defender was moored off Gladstone Pier where it remained under the authority of Captain Hugh McLellan, Harbour Master and Captain of the Naval Brigade. Ten men were chosen by McLellan to serve on the torpedo boat, assisted by five members of the Armed Constabulary. However, only five at a time would be on permanent duty.

The Defender of Baker’s Bay

In 1885 it was decided to house Defender at Baker’s Bay (now called Magazine Bay) where a magazine building had previously been constructed in 1874 by the then Provincial Government to house black powder and explosives. A torpedo boat shed, large enough to house three boats, and a slip, was constructed. However, the location and design of the slip were criticised, as the boat could not be launched during a high tide or during swells. This was lampooned in an article in the Lyttelton Times with the suggestion that a placard be painted on Godley Head with the following: “To Russians and all others whom it may concern. Hostile parties wishing to shell the Port of Lyttelton are requested to time their visit for fine weather, otherwise they cannot be fittingly received by the local authorities.”

Because Defender was only tested once every three months, and without a full time engineer to oversee its maintenance, its engines soon rusted. In March 1886 Rear-Admiral Robert A.E. Scott visited Lyttelton to observe a display of the boat’s performance. Unfortunately, due to the condition of its engines, the boat was only able to reach a speed of 12 knots. Later that year the boat was equipped with Whitehead mobile torpedoes.

Magazine Bay, Lyttelton Harbour, 1925. PH13-432. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Decommission, ruin and restoration

The predicted war with the Russian Empire never came. Since the ruler of Afghanistan, Emir Abdur Rahman Khan, remained unconcerned by the Russian occupation of Panjdeh, the British in India had no excuse to send military forces to the Russian-Afghan border on his behalf. When the threat of a Russian invasion passed, Defender remained idle. Although in 1888 it was suggested, in a report to the Government by General Shaw, that the boat be transferred to Wellington, she remained on inactive duty in Lyttelton.

In 1899 Defender was decommissioned and sold to Mark Thomas, a steam launch operator. He salvaged the boat’s vital parts before disposing of the hull on Purau Beach. It is believed that the conning tower eventually ended up in a paddock where it was used as trough. In 1909 the Mount Herbert County Council hired Alex Rhind and Co. to haul the remains of the boat further up the beach, a process which resulted in the hull breaking in half. The remains were still visible when artist Jess Hollobon painted a scene of Purau Beach in 1930. They were finally covered over in 1958.

In 1998 David Bundy was tasked by Project Port Lyttelton to locate and excavate the remains of Defender. Referring to an aerial photograph taken in 1958 of Purau beach, he was assisted by a team of soldiers using metal detectors. Eventually the remains were found, with some sections buried at a depth of 30 metres. After being excavated, the remains were taken to Lyttelton where they were restored. In 2003 the Lyttelton Torpedo Boat Museum Charitable Trust opened the Thornycroft Torpedo Boat Museum in the former magazine house and placed the restored remains, complete with a spar torpedo, on display. Today, the remains of Torpedo Boat No. 168, Defender are a reminder that colonial New Zealand, although located in the lower Pacific, was not immune from the effects of Russian and British expansion into the khanates of Central Asia.

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How Fathers Occupied themselves at the Beach: Picturing Canterbury

https://i0.wp.com/ketechristchurch.peoplesnetworknz.info/image_files/0000/0014/7618/How_fathers_occupied_themselves_at_a_day_at_the_beach_2946402980_o.jpg
How fathers occupied themselves at the beach playing cards, 1953 Kete Christchurch, HWC08-LYT-045. Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2008 Photo Hunt. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ.

These Dads had 15 children amongst themselves. These families went to Corsair Bay regularly in the summer.  One family travelled by bus from Bryndwr to the Christchurch Railway Station to train to Lyttelton and then launch to Corsair Bay.  The other two families walked from Sydenham and Central City respectively to the railway station to train to Lyttelton and then launch to Corsair Bay.

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

Lyttelton Harbour : Picturing Canterbury

Maria Rohs with father Frederick Rohs. Lyttelton Harbour, Governors Bay, 1961. Entry in the 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ Kete Christchurch PH14-184.jpg

Life on the ocean blue

Last weekend we took our sailing dingy to Charteris Bay and launched her off the boat ramp. She’s a modest wee boat; 13 ft long, tomato red with a tri-colour sail. I would never say this to my significant other, but she’s cute.

There wasn’t much wind initially but once we got past the headland the easterly whipped in and sent us rocketing along. It’s a great way to spend the day. No carbon emissions, no engine noise, just the wind and a sail and the cry of the gulls.

There are plenty of places in Christchurch to set sail, sailing clubs and background reading available if you need to brush up on your skills.

One thing you can rely on about Christchurch weather is its unreliability so before we set sail, we always check the forecast!  And never forget lifejackets, sunblock and something light to read in case we’re becalmed.