Chief Post Office, 31 Cathedral Square, Christchurch c1906-1910
Another recent purchase is this postcard of the 'Chief' Post Office in Christchurch - a wonderful snap of bygone Edwardian days. The first telephone exchange in New Zealand was launched from here.
My hometown prided itself on and identified with the Victorian and Edwardian architecture pre quakes. The architectural magnificence in and around the city centre changed forever dramatically due to destructon and/or demolition of damaged buildings after the devastating earthquakes starting late 2010. The building now has an uncertain future since these events. From 2000, it had housed the Christchurch tourist information centre, along with a café and office space.
The postcard depicts a pretty scene, with a hubbub of people going about their everyday life, toting parasols and driving hansom cabs. Some skirts are skimming just above the ankles so dated to just after the turn of the 20th century with the clock face showing 11.35, nearing lunch time.
In the background can be seen a sign indicating where 'Gilby's' was situated - in the Royal Exchange Buildings. Gilby's College Ltd was a Shorthand/Typing training institution [they also had a branch in Wellington]. One celebrated attendee was Ettie Rout, journalist, writer, businesswoman, but best known as a staunch worker in the field of sex hygiene during WW1 - who by 1902 was "one of the first Government-appointed shorthand writers working in the Supreme Court and on commissions of enquiry."
|Click on picture for a larger view of this 1919 advertisement|
To the far right of the card, the original premises of McKenzie and Willis can be seen. This business was founded in 1906 and is still active. They were situated in the Royal Exchange Buildings until 1928 when the buildings were purchased by Christchurch Cinemas for reconstruction as the Regent Theatre. It was the "first major Edwardian building erected in the square. It was the last of six cinemas to be developed around Cathedral Square, and at the time it opened it was considered to be the grandest theatre in the city."
The rear of the postcard
Jane Tolerton. 'Rout, Ettie Annie', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 28-Jan-2014
©2014 Sarndra Lees