Q. What is a ‘Historic Landmark’?
A. “Historic Landmark means any improvement, building or structure of particular historic or architectural significance to the Town relating to its heritage, cultural, social, economic or political history, or which exemplifies historic personages or important events in local, state or national history identified in the municipality’s comprehensive plan, which have been listed or are eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
“Historic Landmark means an historic resource of historical, architectural, archaeological, or cultural importance or value which the City Council determines shall be protected, enhanced and preserved in the interest of the culture, prosperity, education and welfare of the people and which is so designated.”
Q. What is ‘Historic Heritage?’
A. “Historic heritage is those natural and physical resources that contribute to an understanding and appreciation of New Zealand’s history and cultures.
It includes historic sites, structures, places and areas, archaeological sites, site of significance to Māori, including wāhi tapu, and surroundings associated with the natural and physical resources.
Historic heritage has three key elements: a geographical place (e.g. a structure, house, site or area), associated heritage values and heritage significance, and associated connections with a person, group or community.”
1. Founding of Shirley
– “Subdivision started in the early 20th century, at which time the area was known as North Richmond. The name then changed to Windsor, until it was discussed at a meeting at the Windsor Wesleyan School that land agents indicated land sold better if the locality was called Shirley instead of Windsor.
The suburb spreads across wholly flat land which before the arrival of the first European colonists in the 1850s consisted of streams running into marshland between weathered and grassy sand dunes. Sheep and dairy cattle began to be grazed on the land within a few years of the colonists’ arrival, the area being part of the Sandhills station.
Land began to be bought by families of small farmers from 1863 onwards, and during the rest of the 19th century the future suburb was a district of market gardens, dairy farms and small grazing farms divided by hedgerows. A farmhouse and stables could be found along the roads every few hundred metres.
As more and more land was drained it was often highly productive. One large estate was established by the very wealthy Rhodes family who chose not to live on the land but instead resided in a very large mansion in Merivale. Their estate in the district was run by managers and overseers.
The district’s settlers were mostly English and Scottish, but some Irish families also settled, as well as – in the 1870s – a significant group of Poles from eastern Germany. A small village of shops and one or two churches had begun to grow up by that time along what would later become known as Shirley Road.”
– “When our First Four Ships arrived in Lyttelton late 1850, the area that was to become known as Shirley attracted the settlers immediately.
By 1863, after most of the marsh had been drained, the area experienced a boom of smaller dairy/grazing farms and market gardens opening.
One of the biggest land owners were the Rhodes family who leased their land out. They chose to live in their nearby home of Elmwood, now the site of Heaton Normal Int. School (named after Sir Heaton Rhodes) on Heaton Road.
At that time, the Rhodes Estate stretched across the suburbs of Marshlands (Rhodes Swamp), Mairehau (named after Rose Mariehau Rhodes), Shirley and Elmwood.
It is unclear where John and Susannah Buxton – saddlers – actually lived but their son Joseph (pictured) owned land that sat on what is now known as Quinn Street.
On Susannah’s death bed, she asked her son to gift his land to the community so a church could be built. Her wish was granted.
On the 10th April 1868, the Shirley Methodist Church opened its doors.
The community had decided to honor Susannah by naming the church after her in using her maiden name of Shirley. Slowly the name spread and influenced the rest of the community.”
– “Shirley. Named after Susannah Buxton, née Shirley, (1806?-1867). Mrs Buxton was the wife of John Buxton (1805?-1887), a saddler, and mother of Joseph Shirley Buxton (1833-1898), a gentleman of Merivale. Her son owned a large area of land on the corner of Quinn’s Road and St Albans Road.”
https://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/PlaceNames/ChristchurchPlaceNames-N-Z.pdf, Page 70
– “Mr. Joseph Shirley Buxton, who was long a personality in Christchurch, and an old Colonist of over forty years’ standing, was born at Wootton, Bedfordshire, England, in 1833, served his apprenticeship as a saddler with his father, and came to Lyttelton in 1858 by the ship “Westminster.”
– “Shirley. Mr I. F. Buxton tells me that Shirley was named after his later father, Joseph Shirley Buxton, and was applied to a large area of land owned by him.
The area in question has recently been subdivided, but the name is now applied to a much larger district.
Such an explanation is most valuable, as the personal side of the matter would soon be forgotten. Shirley in this case may be a family name, or a reminiscence of a once-famous novel, or a place name in England – it is hard to say which.”
– “Shirley Road. Named because it runs through Shirley which, in turn, is named after Susannah Buxton, née Shirley, (1806?-1867). Shirley Road is first mentioned in the Star in 1873.”
https://christchurchcitylibraries.com/heritage/placenames/christchurchstreetnames-s.pdf, Page 55
– Originally Shirley Road started at Westminster Street (now Aylesford Street), before crossing over Hills Road to Marshland Road.
2. Social Housing Heritage
– “In 1905 the government introduced the Workers Dwelling Act which would allow for the purchasing of land and the construction of affordable homes for workers at what was to be modest rents.
34 designs were selected from 130 submitted by architects throughout New Zealand. Some of these homes were built in poorly selected locations away from public transport and at rents beyond the reach of many.”
“Richard Seddon, concerned at the number of homeless and substandard conditions, decided that the State should play a larger part in housing. Seddon came from England and had seen for himself good quality council housing available to low income families.
These homes could be leased with the right of renewal or could be purchased outright with the proviso that upon the death of the owner, ownership would return to the State. Seddon said it would give relief from profit hungry landlords…”
“When this early experiment was finished, over 640 homes had been built throughout the country.
In Christchurch, some of these homes were designed by some prominent local architects including Hurst Segar, Cecil Wood, Barlow and England.
Three pockets of these homes were built in Christchurch in 1918 to 1920, one being in Chancellor Street. This small group of homes run between Julius Terrace and Shirley Road.”
“Of the three pockets of these homes built in Christchurch, little remains of the other two, so Chancellor Street is unique in the fact that they are all still there and are in good hands. It would be interesting to know how many of these original 640 homes still exist throughout the country.”
‘Chancellor Street Today’ by Alan Williamson, Richmond Community News, February 2009
– “Richard John Seddon (22 June 1845 – 10 June 1906) was a New Zealand politician who served as the 15th premier (prime minister) of New Zealand from 1893 until his death. In office for thirteen years, he is to date New Zealand’s longest-serving head of government.”
– “Dudley is identified in the Christchurch District Plan as a Character Area. It has qualities that make it distinctive and appealing resulting in an attractive and memorable area. The distinctiveness is created through the combination of the character of houses and their surroundings.”
“Dudley has city-wide significance as an intact residential neighbourhood, strong landscape features, consistent house sizes and styles.”
“The original subdivision was comprehensively developed as a result of the construction of the St Albans Park and North Beach tram routes. Many of the original houses date from the early 20th century and are single-storey wooden villas and bungalows.”
“While there was damage to the area as a result of the Canterbury Earthquakes, the original subdivision of Dudley is relatively intact. The majority of sections across the area have not been further subdivided, retaining large sections with mature trees that sets up a regular spacing and pattern of houses, fencing and front gardens along the street.”
“Dudley Creek is a defining feature and important open space for this Character Area. Extensive recent work along the banks of the waterways in Dudley have opened up spaces that contribute to the amenity and value of the area for the community and residents. A feature of Dudley is how existing sections engage with the waterways. Houses face Dudley Creek and tributaries, vegetation is low but extensive and bridges, both vehicle and pedestrian, span the creek creating a strong visual and physical connection.”
– “Interestingly this Dudley Character Area in Richmond, is in part thanks to Richard Seddon & “prominent local architects”: Hurst Segar, Cecil Wood, Barlow and England creating architectural designed social housing.
This Character Area is an important part of Richmond’s identity/heritage & should be protected, especially after so many buildings were lost after the earthquakes.”
Chancellor Street Heritage Houses
(overlooking Shirley Community Reserve)
“This former Workers’ Dwelling Act dwelling has historical and social significance as one of seven houses built on the east side of Chancellor Street in 1914 as part of the Chancellor Street Settlement under the Workers’ Dwellings Act 1905. The act and its successors established the first programme of public housing provision in New Zealand by central government.”
“New Zealand Premier ‘King’ Dick Seddon’s Liberal Government (1893-1906) wanted architectural variety, rather than uniformity, in the design of the workers’ dwellings. Local architects submitted entries to design competitions held throughout New Zealand and the dwellings were built by local contractors.”
“The Chancellor Street houses also form part of New Zealand’s heritage of state housing generally. The setting is the original 1914 rectangular land parcel with a small garden between the house and the roadway and a larger open space at the rear.”
– 72 Chancellor Street: https://goo.gl/maps/MQ1PE5QEhPyGs7o3A
– 70 Chancellor Street: https://goo.gl/maps/vQrotJHgSm2eczf49
– 66 Chancellor Street: https://goo.gl/maps/PPRMJDMoVzigGmgv8
3. Former Shirley Primary School Building
– “The Shirley Primary School was erected in 1915 to the design of George Penlington, the Education Board Architect in Canterbury.
The foundation stone was laid on 16th June 1915.
Sympathetic additions were made to the school building in 1924 and were presumably to the design of Penlington also. This comprised the four east-facing classrooms. Other than these additions, the building appears largely unaltered.
Shirley Primary School was typical of education buildings of this era in both plan and the provision of large windows to each classroom, but has some regional rarity in that it is constructed of brick. The building is prominent within the local streetscape because of its corner site and spacious setting.”
Building Record Form for Shirley Community Centre, 10 Shirley Road, Christchurch
– “This building was built as Shirley Primary School in 1915 to the design of Education Board architect George Penlington. With its hipped roof and symmetry, the overall flavour of this school building is Georgian. Its U-shaped plan, and large and regular fenestration, together hint at the Jacobean influence which was to be developed in Penlington’s later work. In addition, it provides evidence of Penlington’s skill in polychromatic brick construction.”
Register Record for Shirley Community Centre, 10 Shirley Road, Christchurch
– “Originally entered in the List as a Category 2 historic place (#7117) – Demolished 2012. This building was constructed in 1915 as Shirley Primary School.
It was built to the design of Education Board architect George Penlington.
The building’s hipped roof and symmetry gave the building an overall Georgian air, whilst its U-shaped plan and large and regular fenestration hinted at the Jacobean influence which was to be developed in Penlington’s later work.”
Canterbury earthquakes: Christchurch Q to Z: Shirley Community Centre (former Shirley Primary School) 10 Shirley Road, Christchurch.
– George Penlington, Canterbury Education Board Architect, including Shirley Primary & Richmond School
– “Cantabrians have long been proud of the region’s education heritage, but they have extra reason to pay respect to the city’s remaining historic educational treasures…”We do tend to forget about our educational buildings. But it is so unusual to have such a concentration of our colonial beginnings in one small area and they tell us so much about our social history,” says Heritage consultant and chair of ICOMOS New Zealand Jenny May.
Some of the city’s foremost and celebrated colonial architects designed these institutional buildings: William Armson, Thomas Cane, Collins and Harman, Benjamin Mountfort, George Penlington, Samuel Hurst Seagar and Cecil Wood.
Although some of these buildings have been lost, they were a significant part of the city’s architectural as well as social heritage.”
– Building Yesterday’s Schools: An analysis of educational architectural design as practised by the Building Department of the Canterbury Education Board from 1916 – 1989, by Murray Noel Williams.
“One development, unique to Canterbury, was that for a short period, from 1924-29, a local pressure group, the Open Air Schools’ League became so powerful that it virtually dictated the CEB’s design policy until the Board architects George Penlington and John Alexander Bigg reassumed control by inflecting the open-air model into the much acclaimed veranda block.”
4. Former Shirley Community Centre
– “The Shirley Community Centre is located in a park like setting on the corner of Shirley Rd. In May 1977 the building and site became surplus to Ministry of Education requirements.
In October 1977 Christchurch City Council was appointed to control and manage the site pursuant to the Lands and Domains Act 1953.
The site was set aside for use as a Community Centre and the running of the Centre was handed over to the Shirley Community Centre Society, which had been established earlier in the year to lobby for the building to be used as a Community facility. The centre opened for hire in March 1978, as a ‘place for cultural, educational and recreational activities’.
Over the next almost 25 years funding from the City Council, fundraising and volunteer work from members of the Society and the local community have restored this building to a pleasant, well appointed Community Centre the local community can be proud of. It is well used by both local and citywide community groups, clubs and some commercial ventures, and is largely self-funding.”
– Christchurch City Libraries, Shirley Community Centre, Earthquake Damage Photos
Search = Shirley Community Centre, or try this link:
– The Shirley Community Centre building was a Category 2 historic place (#7117) & demolished in 2012, due to earthquake damage.
“Facilities Rebuild Tranche 1, 21. Shirley Community Centre. Replace. Section 38 (claim insured value).”
– Since 1915, this location at 10 Shirley Road/Shirley Community Reserve, has been an important part of our communities identity.
First as the original Shirley Primary School, then as the Shirley Community Centre, until the building was demolished in 2012, due to earthquake damage.
This historic landmark has been a ‘place of learning’ on Shirley Road for over 100 years & still is today with the Shirley Playcentre onsite.
Leaving it empty without a community building, is a constant reminder of what we have lost, that our communities have been forgotten & we have no community legacy for the future generations.
NZ Society of Genealogists, Canterbury Branch
– “10 Shirley Road was the home for NZ Society of Genealogists – Canterbury Branch, for 21 years from February 1990 until the February 2011 earthquakes. We were hoping that a new Community Centre would be built on the same site to serve the local community in many ways, and possibly return ‘home’.”
Fiona Lees, NZ Society of Genealogists – Canterbury Branch, Convenor
“Our city has special needs with what we have been through in the last decade, where the community have shown how strong they can be supporting each other, and desperately need safe and welcoming meeting places to suit all needs.”
Pages 61-62, Letter from Fiona Lees, Convenor
NZ Society of Genealogists, Canterbury Branch
Pages 63-70, NZSG Canterbury Branch, 50th Anniversary – February 2018, includes photos of Shirley Community Centre
– “Established in 1968, that makes the [NZ Society of Genealogists] Canterbury regional branch the oldest in New Zealand…For Lees, that passion was wanting to know more about where she came from and what influences made her the person she is today.”
Shirley Community Reserve
“The land at 10 Shirley Rd is classified as reserve, vested in the Council by the Crown to be held “in trust for local purpose (site for a community centre)”.
That means the land could not be used for any other purpose than a community centre unless and until the reserve classification is changed.
This involves a process set out in the Reserves Act 1977, providing for notification and objections by the public.
It also appears the land could not simply sit ‘vacant’ with the reserve stats unchanged, as that would also be inconsistent with the reserve purpose.”
9. ‘Shirley Community Facility Rebuild – 10 Shirley Road’ Report
5. Background (Page 19) & 9.9 Legal Implications (Page 27)
Significant Shirley Community Reserve Park Trees
There are 8 Significant Park Trees (Protected Vegetation) along the northern & eastern boundary of the Shirley Community Reserve.
Since 1915 this site has been a ‘place of learning’, as the original Shirley Primary School, then with the Shirley Community Centre & today the Shirley Playcentre is on this site (back left corner of the Reserve, from Shirley Road).
61 Chancellor Street: https://goo.gl/maps/oqMKT7MQJawX1YAN7
“Shirley Playcentre operates under the guidance of the Canterbury Playcentre Association. The playcentre is a parent cooperative with parents encouraged to be involved in all aspects of the playcentre’s programme and management.
Shirley Playcentre is located in the Shirley Community Reserve.
The community has become increasingly transient and culturally diverse due to the changes in employment in the local area.
Since the 2012 ERO report, the playcentre’s main focus has been to upgrade the outdoor environment.
Parents have made links with the local community to extend children’s learning opportunities. Adults make good use of the community gardens and the local stream to support children’s learning in natural science.
The playcentre works closely with the nearby school. Children take part in school programmes and are regularly visited by groups from the school.”
– “Dudley Creek, which flows through Bishopdale, Papanui, Shirley and Richmond before entering the Avon River was named after him [Dr Charles Dudley 1810 – 1881].”
– Dudley Creek runs along the southern boundary of the Shirley Community Reserve, 10 Shirley Road.
Dudley Creek Flood Remediation
– “Detailed flood modelling and in the upstream zones of Dudley Creek, waterway widening, silt removal and infrastructural remediation will improve the existing waterways. In addition to this ecological and landscape values will be enhanced, including improving in-creek eel and fish habitats, new riparian and tree planting and improved pedestrian pathways. These interventions are carefully designed not to inhibit flood capacity at times of peak flow, and simultaneously provide an inviting and accessible waterway corridor for local residents and visitors when the creek is at its natural low flow level.”
– ‘Getting All The Multidisciplinary Ducks In A Row – Stream Waterway Design’ by Murphy A (Beca), Smith I (Beca), McMurtrie S (EOS Ecology), Keesing V (Boffa Miskell)
Dudley Creek Esplanade Reserve
– Path from Slater Street to Shirley Shopping Centre (corner of Hills & Shirley Road).
– “I’m always amazed when I find little pockets of Christchurch that are wee gems like this – I think unless we live or work in an area we never really get to know other parts of the city all that well.”