Lyttelton       1750 - 1875


A Lyttelton Heritage Project 

1750c - Polynesians establish settlements in the harbour at Rapaki and on Ripapa Island. 

1770 - Feb 16 - Crew of HMB Endeavour sight Banks Peninsula.  It's mistaken for an island, which it had been.

1794 - Solomon Levy, a discharged convict of Sydney sends a Whaling ship to the peninsula, where the crew trade with the natives at what became known as Port Levy.  Solomon's sons unto the eigth generation still inhabit this island. 

1809 - Late in the year the sealing ship Pegasus becomes the first recorded European vessel to enter Port Cooper. 

1815c - Europeans land from the sealing ship Governor Bligh.

1825 - 1828c - Civil war among the natives destroys the settlement on Ripapa Island and  halves the indigenous population in the wider area.

1827 - Sep - Captain William Wiseman, on a flax trading voyage in the Elizabeth, names Whakaraupo Bay as Port Cooper (now Lyttelton Harbour) and the adjacent Port Levy after his Sydney based employers.

1831 - Jun - The barque Vittoria visits the harbour, trading muskets and gunpowder for flax.

1835 - First whaling ships operate from the harbour.

1836 - At least 11 whaling ships are reputed to have been operating around the peninsula.

1836 - First known European habitation at Little Port Cooper, near the Southern Head of the harbour.

Brig Bee at Little Port Cooper   (1024 x 721 px)

1838 - June - First survey chart of the harbour by Captain  Cecille of the French corvette Heroine.  He claimed Banks Peninsula for France.

1838 - Aug 2 - Captain Jean François L'Anglois, then the master of the French whaler Cachalot, reportedly purchased a block of land on Banks Peninsula defined as "All Banks Peninsula, with the exception of the Bay of Hikuraki and Oihioa on the south, and Sandy Bay north of Port Cooper; the supposed contents 30,000 acres."

1840 -  Approximately 80 Europeans living on the peninsula, mostly at whaling stations.

1840 -  Apr 12 - The vessel Sarah and Elizabeth lands the first European farmers.

1843 -  Homestead built by the Greenwood brothers at Purau Bay.

1846 - Jun 27 - Lyttelton's first armed robbery - three men hold up and ransack the Greenwood brothers’ farm at Purau.

1848 - Sep 15 - The cutter Fly anchored in Purau Bay. Aboard were Captain Thomas and his assistant surveyors Thomas Cass, Charles Obins Torlesse and five survey hands.  Accompanying the survey party was Mr (later Sir) William Fox, Principal Agent of the New Zealand Company.  The following day, leaving Thomas Cass and his field assistants to commence a survey of Lyttelton harbour, Captain Thomas accompanied by Fox and Torlesse, walked around the head of the harbour and crossed the hills to the Deans brothers’ homestead at Riccarton.

1849 - Mar -  Charting of the harbour by HMS Acheron.

1849 - Jun - Canterbury Association Surveyor Walter Mantell commenced negotiations with the Maori, purchasing the Port Cooper block of 59,000 acres in August.

1849 - Jun 30 - Native road workers constructing the Sumner Road go on strike as a reaction to verbal abuse and dismissals.

1849 - Sep - Town survey completed by the end of September by Edward Jollie.

1849 - Dec - Major Alfred Hornbrook’s  Mitre Hotel opened at the port.  Initially it was the only sizeable establishment in Lyttelton and hosted all the important early meetings in the settlement. This establishment survived the great fire in 1870 only to be consumed by flames in 1875.  The new Mitre was much grander than the last. Again constructed out of wood the hotel boosted a Kauri paneled Commercial Room and Billiard room. There were a host a guest rooms and servants accommodation. The new building was open for business in September 1876. Fire was to beset the hotel again. On July 23rd 1926 the wooden building was gutted. The third Mitre and the building that exists today is made out of concrete. Many famous people visited the Mitre. Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his party had farewell celebrations at the hotel.

1849 - European population of the area about 1,000, mainly on the peninsula.

1849 - 150 x 15 feet wharf constructed at Erskine Bay, now the inner harbour.

1850 - Apr 12 - Canterbury Association’s Resident Chief Agent, John Robert Godley, arrived at the port.

1850 - Sep - Drawing; Cridland, Henry John, (1821-1867), Port Lyttleton, Cavendish Bay, Port Victoria.

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1850 - Dec 16 - Immigrant vessels Charlotte Jane and Randolph at port.

1850 - Dec 17 - Immigrant vessel Sir George Seymour at port.

1850 - Dec 28 - Immigrant vessel Cressy at port. Southeast elevated view from the Bridle Path; the first four immigrant ships are in port, with passengers leaving the Cressy via the wharf.

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1851 - Jan 6 - The first school, which became Christ’s College, opens in Lyttelton.

1851 - Jan 11 - From a shed on Section 2 on Norwich Quay, the first issue of the Lyttelton Times, a weekly edited by James Edward Fitzgerald, appeared on 11 January 1851. Though production of the paper was transferred to Christchurch in 1863, it retained its original name until 1929, when it became the Christchurch Times, just six years before its demise.

1851 - Jan 18 -  The  Union Bank of Australia opens on Norwich Quay.

1851 - Feb 11 - Canterbury Association sells land in the port at £12 per quarter acre.

1851 - Mar - John Grubb built his house at 62 London Street. History of the house.

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1851 - May 24 - Rowing was included in a regatta held to mark Queen Victoria’s 32nd birthday. Lyttelton regattas were important as spectator events for Christchurch residents from 1862. They drew even larger crowds after the Lyttelton rail tunnel was opened in 1867.

1851 - Jul 27- A storm wrecks six ships in the harbour.

1851 - A defence reserve created on Godley Head, at the entrance to the harbour.

1851 - Within the first year, a further fifteen Immigrant vessels had arrived, bringing the population of the settlement to more than 3,000.

Erskine Bay, 1851.  Drawing by Bill Huntley

1851 - December - William Holmes, a Master at Lyttelton's Collegiate Grammar School, exhibits a collection of sketches at the Steadfast Coffee Room on Norwich Quay.

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1852 - Jan 7 - Southeast elevated view across the town by Janetta Maria Cookson (1812-18670.

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1852 - Nov 6 - First sitting of the Supreme Court at Lyttelton.

1852 - Influenza epidemic.

1853 - Sep 14 - The Ann becomes the first steamship to visit the port.

- The last of the Canterbury Association immigrants arrive.

1853 - Passenger Lists to Lyttelton 1853 - 1927 

1855 - Lyttelton Savings Bank established.

1855 - Apr 17 - Formation of the Canterbury Local Steam Navigation Co.

1856 - Mar 27 - First Wool cargo shipped to London from the port.

1857 - Mar 17 - First vehicle crosses the Port Hills - a spring cart pulled by bullocks negotiates the Bridle Path.

Port Plan, Erskine Bay, 1857  (1400 x 859 px)

1857 - Jul 23 - First dramatic presentation, which featured Mrs Foley in The Loan of a Lover and Betsy Baker at the Town Hall.

1857 - Aug 24 - Evans Pass road over the Port Hills opens.

1857 - Aug - First daily post to Christchurch begins. 

1857 - Goaler's house and Police Barracks completed.

 Goaler's House  (512 x 377 px)

1857- Jul 23 - Former Town Hall now known as Theatre Royal 

1857 - Aug - First Holy Trinity Church demolished.

1858 - Union Bank stone building at the Western end of Norwich Quay completed (demolished by 1867)

 Recently completed Union Bank in foreground (1024 x 768 px)

1858 - Sumner Road completed.

1858 - The Lyttelton Colonists society had lately received a grant from the provincial government and had extended its library. It was for them that the former Colonists Hall on Oxford Street was built. 

1859 - Aug 19 - Chamber of Commerce established.

1859 - The 1855 steamship Mullogh enters service at the port.  Her bones can still be seen on Quail Island History of the Mullogh

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1860 - Jan - Tunnelling began at the Lyttelton portal of the railway tunnel. 

1860 - Jan 27 - Author Samuel Butler arrives in the port aboard the Roman Emperor.

1860 - Oct 4 - Second Holy Trinity Church dedicated. 

1862 - Telegraph line to Christchurch opened. Christchurch and Lyttelton police stations linked by telegraph.

1863 - Colonist's Hall  in Oxford Street completed (demolished 1940).

 Elevated Westerly 1863 view (2000 x 1370 px)

1863 - Electoral Roll

1863 - Jul 1 - Passenger ticket for Shaw Savill's Lancashire Witch from London to Lyttelton.

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1863 - Dec - Brother’s Pride arrives at Lyttelton with 44 fever deaths during the voyage - the worst ever of any ship to the port. The hapless survivors were quarantined under very primitive conditions at Camp Bay.

1863 - Dec - Insane persons transferred from the Lyttelton Goal to the new Sunnyside Mental Hospital.

Northwest aspect, 1864.  (2006 x 1436 px)

1865 - Mar 1 - Godley Head lighthouse in operation.

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1865 - Jun 30 - Customs Revenue for the Quarter ending 30th June; £20,195. Value of Exports: £86,761. Value of Imports: £127,707. 9 vessels totaling 4,156 tons cleared outwards.

1865 - Jul 1 - Erskine Bay breakwaters begun.

1865 - Coach service three times a day to Christchurch.

1865 - Lyttelton Directory (258 biographical listings compiled from data extracted from Stevens and Bartholomew's New Zealand Directory for 1866-67. Statistical data for the port  has a cut-off point of June 30, 1865).

1865 - St Joseph's Catholic Church completed. 

1866 - Postal Pillar boxes at Norwich Quay and Dublin Street.

1866 - Lyttelton Yellow Pages compiled from data extracted from Stevens and Bartholomew's New Zealand Directory for 1866-67, published at Melbourne, 1st August, 1866.

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1867 - Dec 9 - Rail tunnel to Christchurch completed.

1867 - Foreshore below Norwich Quay reclaimation completed.

1868 - Humanity and the hospital of Lyttelton may be closed, the problems of transporting a patient to Christchurch are illustrated.

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 1869 - Apr 22 - Visit of the Duke of Edinburgh aboard HMS Galatea, the port's first royal visit.

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1869 - The Canterbury Provincial Government's Executive Council decided that the hospital at Lyttelton should become an orphanage. Several additions were made to the large wooden building which was eventually enlarged to 48 rooms and became a familiar landmark at the port. By 1875 120 orphans were in residence. Because it was agreed that the institution be managed according to the provisions of the Industrial Schools Act 1882, the orphanage received government money and was under the charge of the Canterbury Charitable Aid Board. As soon as the boys were old enough they were apprenticed to various trades and the girls became domestic servants. The building was destroyed by fire in 1904 and the orphanage moved to a building in Waltham (See The Press, 26 Mar. 1904, p. 8) 

1870 - Oct 24 - New Zealand’s most extensive urban fire to date destroys the commercial centre of township.

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1874 - Quail Island barracks built to house immigrant families who had contact with infectious or contagious diseases during voyage, In 1879 it became a sanitorium for orphans and in 1918 was used to house Spanish influenza patients.

1875 - Feb 11 - The whole of Quail Island was proclaimed a quarantine station. The building on the right of the photograph is the caretaker's residence and the two-storeyed structure is the quarantine hospital. On the left, among the trees, are three huts that were occupied by leper patients. The inset shows a Maori patient and his companion, a cockatoo. The lepers' food was placed on the table shown in the inset, and afterwards distributed by the least affected of the three patients. The Canterbury times, 25 Oct. 1911, p. 45.

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1875 - Primary School building in Oxford Street completed (demolished 1940).

 Easterly aspect, 1875.  (1820 x 1185 px)

1876 - 18991900 - 1950  - 1951 - 2006