new background

Friday, 31 January 2014

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.[1] 

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 cafĂ© 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."[2]
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.[3]  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."[4]
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

Thursday, 30 January 2014

1950's view of the Cenotaph at Auckland War Memorial Museum

Another recent purchase is this postcard of the Cenotaph at Auckland War Memorial Museum.  I love it!

The view is quite different these days because from the level this was snapped at, the trees now block the vista.  This is evidenced in the second photo which I took on 21 April 2012 at the 24th Battalion Beat Retreat.

Note the fabulous old vehicle in the background - no doubt it wasn't old then! Now where the car is there is a gun from the HMS New Zealand instead.

Circa 1955 view of the Cenotaph - click picture for larger view
Similar view at the 24th Battalion Beat Retreat - click picture to go to beat retreat set

Written on the reverse is:
23rd Nov. 1955
Dear Jean
Well here I am in
Auckland.  Had a most enjoyable
trip up.
My brother arrives here
sometime this afternoon.
In  the meantime a friend is
calling  for me here & we are going
out to lunch together.
Love to your Mum & Dad.  Trusting
you are all keeping well.
Love to yourself
from Edith B

©2014 Sarndra Lees

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Old Christchurch Public Library and waiting to see Montgomery

Recently I've had a little burst of postcard purchases.  I just had to grab this one of the old Christchurch Public library as not only is it a piece of history lost to the earthquakes of 2010-2011 but my dad told me a wee anecdote when I was staying with my parents over Christmas just gone.

Electric trams ran from 1905 in Christchurch so that places the photo used in the postcard after this.
Close up of detail on the postcard.  Note the bicycles in the stand to the right
As a 10 year old in July 1947 my dad remembers travelling by tram into the city with his schoolmates and standing outside the library for several hours waiting to catch a glimpse of Field Marshal Montgomery passing in his car.  With his little legs aching and clutching his flag to wave as Montgomery's car passed, it finally appeared but as a blur...taking only seconds to zoom past much to the disappointment of my dad.

Here is a fabulous photo of Montgomery waving to the crowds in Christchurch.  I'm sure it can't be too far away from where my dad as a wee boy would have been standing...


My dads class photo taken 2 months after the Montgomery trip to town. Standard 3 Woolston primary school - 2nd to last  row and 4th from left

History of the Library

The demolition of the Library through the eyes of a former employee

©2014 Sarndra Lees