The Early Days Of Canterbury: 5. Early Business Thoroughfares

CHRISTCHURCH,  2009

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CHAPTER 5

 

 

Early Business Thoroughfares

 

 

There are possibly a few old timers, still with us who can mentally recall Cashel Street in its very early days. The original Union Bank of Australia was the first bank to open its doors for business in our province, its locale being the premises used during the whole of its period of existence in Lyttelton - a picturesque building in red stone and architectural beauty, at the corner of Norwich Quay and Jackson's Road, Lyttelton. The Christchurch premises (extant) were built in, 1856 and were opened for the transaction of business on January 2, 1857, Mr Lucas being the first manager of the branch - a position he filled for nine months, being then replaced by Mr F. E. Stewart. Mr Samuel Manning started his business career as a messenger in this office on the day of its inception, the members of the original staff being Messrs Fortunatus Evelyn Wright (who was afterwards associated with William Montgomery and Co.) and a teller, Mr Duncan McDonald - a brother of Mr Thomas McDonald, of Waikuku.

 

Mr A. W. Money succeeded Mr Manning as bank messenger, his sister being engaged as resident housekeeper on the premises. Money will be remembered as in later years licensee and owner of the Carlton hotel, his sister marrying Mr B. Button - a well known painter whose shop adjoined that of Edward Reece in Colombo Street.

 

Mr G. D. Lockhart lived in the house on the

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east side of the Union Bank. He was a stock and station agent and a well known business man in the early days, his sheep and cattle sale yards adjoining the Christchurch railway station. Mr Frederick Bishop, the grocer and wine merchant, had business premises at the corner of Cashel Street and Oxford Terrace, but later purchased the premises at corner of Colombo and Armagh Streets from Mr Alport, this site being today the drapery establishment of Armstrong and Co.

 

Mr George Inwood carried on his bakery business close to Lockhart's residence, and the foundry of John Anderson came next, while Stephen Moule, the builder, was in the adjoining premises, and Mrs David Clarkson, the draper, occupied a shop on the present site of Ballantyne and Co., Thomas Brass's drapery store being at the corner of Cashel and Colombo Streets, now part of the extensive emporium of Ballantyne's Ltd.

 

Adjoining the original Al hotel (SE corner of Cashel and Colombo Streets), Edward Reece opened his first hardware store in Christ­church, G. L. Beath coming next, while Angus the saddler occupied the shop east of Beath's. R. and D. Sutherland, grocers and wine mer­chants, were in premises next to Angus, and Packer's brewery was up the right of way at the rear of Angus's premises. Packer afterwards sold out to H. S. Brown and Co. Andrew Duncan had a seedsman's shop somewhere here, and the original "Cashel House," owned by Stringer, Grierson and Shackelton, was on the present site of the D.I.C. (department store). Mr J. E. Fitzgerald, our first provincial

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Superintendent, occupied premises where the Bank of Australasia now stands and Charles Kiver's grocery store was on the site of Wardell and Co.'s shop. Armson, the architect, occupied offices upstairs in Kiver's old stone building. Other well known business men of Cashel Street in its earliest days were Thacker, on the present site of Turnbull and Jones's (corner of Oxford Terrace), with Montgomery and Todhunter nearby. Sutcliffe, the carrier, adjoined Montgomery's, and close by was the original site of the Bank of New Zealand, of which the first manager was J. L. Coster and Alick Wilson its first teller. Wilson afterwards was in partnership with Henry Sawtell in one of the leading wholesale merchants' and importers' businesses of the province. M. Kissel, the saddler, had his shop on the east side of the bank, the old Press Company's premises being nearby, while Preece, the auctioneer and Dorsett, the Poulterer occupied the shop and yards next door, and then came the premises of Ben Hale, the tentmaker, and Bain, the toy shop owner, while T. B. Thompkins's Rail­way Chop House was on the corner, afterwards occupied by Culliford, and later by Langdon and Judge, butchers.

 

The corner east of Colombo Street was the saddler's shop of George Boggis, afterwards the boot shop of Barney Hale. Catchpole, the fish­monger and David Caro, the merchant, Piper, the tinsmith and Rowley were all on this same frontage, and Lee Cole's booking office for mail coaches was on the corner, later occupied by Royse Stead and Co., and later by the Grain Agency Co. Ltd., and today by Hallenstein Bros. 

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As showing the value of land in the remote days of the early settlement, it is interesting to note that the wee piece of land occupied now by Bonnington, the chemist (SW corner of High and Cashel Streets), was purchased by Michael Brennan Hart for £14, and was held by his trustees until £14,000 cash was paid for its acquisition. Most of the land known, as the Triangle belonged to a dairy farmer residing at Addington, to whom William Wilson had given credit for goods totalling £60. Wilson, after vainly endeavouring to obtain payment of his account, suggested that he take over this tri­angular section and pay his client £60 in full settlement of accounts. The suggestion appealed to the dairyman and thus Wilson became the owner of one of the most valuable, pieces of property to be found in New Zealand today for £120, less his profit on the £60 worth of goods he had sold to his erstwhile customer!

 

My father told me many years ago that the block from Cashel to Hereford Streets, from Tattersall's Repository to the right of way beyond the hotel, was offered to him for £12, and the reason he did not buy was the same old worn one, namely that he had not got £12 and no one would advance it against the security. It was afterwards purchased by Mr Westenra, and its value today would be at least a hundred thousand pounds. I have in my possession the original title to a quarter acre section in Gloucester Street opposite the Lyttelton Times office (Gloucester Arcade site), which was held by Conway Lucas Rose, and the conveyance

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deed records that for £15 Mr Rose transferred it to John Thomas Brown on April 21, 1852. Mr Brown, eleven years later sold the section together with a substantial dwelling he had built upon it to my father for £1,600, and the property has remained in the possession of my family. There are probably few sections in the city which can claim a similar record.

 

It is somewhat difficult to visualise Tuam Street as one of our early town's most important thoroughfares, but so it was. At its western end it was the means of communication by which country folk passed into and out of Christchurch to their inland homes south and west. The south bound coaches and wagons and the West Coast coaches all used this street. It was natural, therefore, to find the Trades people settled and prospering in this neighbourhood in 1864, the year in which the Christchurch Gas Company com­menced its business of lighting the town with coal gas, although owing to the scattered nature of the several villages which together formed the town, their operations were necessarily upon a very restricted basis.

 

The large gully which ran across the grounds of St. Michael's parsonage, wound its serpentine course in a north-easterly direction across the centre of what is today the hub of the city, and carried a large body of water, emptying itself into the Avon near Manchester Street. In winter time this gully resolved itself into a deep creek only negotiable by boat, and one of the advertisements in an early issue of the "Lyttelton Times" invited

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applications for the position of ferryman across this water-laden gully, and stipulated that prefer­ence would be given to a man of sober habits.

 

Tuam Street west, therefore, developed both as business and residential areas, and many of the early settlers erected pretentious homes in Wind­mill Road (now known as Antigua Street).

 

A son of the proprietor of the White Hart hotel records the fact that in order to obtain meat from the butcher, whose establishment was on Oxford Terrace, near Cashel Street, he had to go along the eastern bank of this gully through fern and tutu, as far as Manchester Street before he could get across the stream.

 

In 1864, at the corner of Antigua and Tuam Streets on the south side, J. W. Fuller had his boot shop, J. Rule the veterinary surgeon living next door. Another shoemaker, Thomas Hogg, kept the next shop, while the White Swan hotel with Robert Russell as "mine host," was estab­lished as a favourite hostelry of that period. Garforth and Lee, the butchers, had moved from Norwich Quay, Lyttelton and adjoined the White Swan, and William Gourlay, the grocer, occupied premises nearby, his next door neighbour being Ben Midgley, the boot maker. Mrs Walker's millinery establishment came next, and J. Priest­nall, the hairdresser occupied the adjoining shop, while Harker, the cabinetmaker came next. A well known landmark for many years was the chimney stack of J. Fleming, the builder, while Toni Haskett, the saddler, plied his trade in the

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shop next to Fleming. Haskett's neighbour was J. Hogg, who kept a corn store in conjunction with his carting business, and will be readily re¬called by many old timers as living in the old-fashioned two-storey house built upon the street line. The corner next to Hogg at Montreal Street was the site of H. Lowther's grocery store, and on the opposite corner still stands the old White Horse hotel building, kept by Bill Samuels, who in after years was prominently associated with municipal politics.

On the north side of Tuam Street at Antigua Street corner, lived Thomas Purdie, the builder, who advertised houses of two rooms and lean-to kitchen complete for seventy-five pounds. Purdie's next door neighbour was Mrs Webb, who kept a grocery store which in later years was subdivided and was conjointly occupied by Mrs Hugh Hepburn as a general store. Mrs Winny's dressmaking and millinery shop adjoined Mrs Hepburn's, and the old stone structure, still standing, was the wheelwright's premises of Herbert Coupe. William Cuddon, well known in after years as proprietor of the Fendalton brewery, conducted a grocery and drapery shop close by, his brother-in-law, George Boggis, the saddler, being in business in the adjoining shop. The old Royal hotel and livery stables was on the east side of Boggis's, under the management of A. Cuff, and was recognised as the accommoda-tion house par excellence of those early days. The livery stables portion of the business was of considerable magnitude owing to its location

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and occupied the frontage upon Oxford Terrace as well as that on Tuam Street.

During the intervening years this business centre has lost something of its old-time importance, but who knows? perhaps in another fifty years circumstances at present undreamed of may bring about necessary developments, and this erstwhile important locality will once more assume its former status in much enhanced form, and huge garages and warehouses to cope with the enormously increased motor transport service (which will undoubtedly replace the railways and tramways of this semi-enlightened first half of the twentieth century) will provide the sinews of commercial warfare which such development will necessitate.