Council Interpretation Panel Email

From: Hayley Luke, Visitor Experience Team, Parks Unit, Christchurch City Council
Date: 19 April 2023

“I’ve started researching and drafting text for the Shirley Community Centre interpretation panel.
Based on our original discussions and your excellent resources listed below, I’ve narrowed the key topics to cover in the sign down to:
– Founding of suburb
– Social housing heritage
– Former school building – architecture, style
– Community Centre
– Environment – do you think there would be value in us creating a map on the back of the panel that shows the surrounding Shirley area + following Dudley Creek and highlighting key feature points like community gardens, parks, Hills Rd shops, any other facilities etc. This could be where we briefly touch on the significance of Dudley Creek and Flockton Basin too.
To combat the word limits we have on interpretation panels, I was thinking we could include a URL and QR code link to the 10 Shirley Road website for those who are keen for a deeper dive into the community story.
Would that be okay with you? Or would you prefer the Shirley Central website?”

To: Hayley Luke, Visitor Experience Team, Parks Unit, Christchurch City Council
Date: 21 April 2023

“Thanks for your email.
I wasn’t sure if this panel was still happening, it’s great to hear that you are able to start working on it. Since our last discussion, I’ve done some more research, so I’ve compiled it below under your headings…

1. Founding of suburb
– Originally Shirley Road started at Westminster Street (now Aylesford Street), before crossing over Hills Road to Marshland Road.

10 Shirley Road, is on the south side of Shirley Road, so it is in the Richmond suburb. The Shirley suburb is on the north side of Shirley Road.
So I don’t know if you want to include information about the Shirley suburb, Richmond suburb, both suburbs or nothing about either suburb?
I’ve included information about both suburbs below:
Shirley suburb: “Susannah Buxton (née Shirley) was married to John Buxton (1806–1886). On her deathbed in 1868, she asked her son, Joseph Shirley Buxton (1833–1898), to gift land to the Methodists to build a church. Her wish was carried out and the Shirley Methodist Church was named after her. The suburb eventually became known as Shirley after the church.
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.”,_New_Zealand
“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. On her deathbed, Mrs Buxton asked her son to gift this land to the Methodists to build a church. Her wish was carried out.
The church was to have been named the Brighton Methodist Chapel but in The Press in 1868 it is referred to as the “Wesleyan Church at Shirley”. The first church service was held on 27 December 1868.
Shirley School is first mentioned in the Star in 1870.”, Pg 70
Richmond suburb: “Formerly Bingsland. Named after Morice Bing (1830?-1878).
Re-named Richmond. Named after Richmond-onThames in Surrey, England.
First mentioned in the Star in 1869 and appears on an 1879 map.
The change of name for the district was first suggested at a meeting in 1881 held to elect a school committee for the East Christchurch school in the new educational district of Richmond. Richmond was regarded as a more “highsounding and classic” name than Bingsland.
Bingsland was officially re-named Richmond on 28 June 1882. Incorporated into Christchurch City Council in 1890 – the first local authority outside of the Town Belts to be absorbed by the council.”, Pg 47-49

2. Social housing heritage
– Site History,, Chancellor Street Heritage Houses & Dudley Character Area
– Dudley Character Area,
– Dudley Design Guide & Map of Dudley Character Area,

3. Former school building
– “The foundation stone was laid on 16th June 1915. Date of Construction 1915 with additions in 1924.” (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)
– “Canterbury earthquakes: Christchurch Q to Z: Shirley Community Centre (former Shirley Primary School) 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.”
– Original Building,
– George Penlington,
– 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.
See pdfs under ‘View/Open’: WilliamsIllustrationsfinal.pdf (photo of George Penlington & the schools he designed) & thesis_fulltext.pdf

4. Community Centre
– The 10 Shirley Road site has historically been a ‘place of learning’ since 1915 when the original Shirley Primary School was built.
This building later became the Shirley Community Centre a ‘place for cultural, educational and recreational activities’.
– “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.
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.”
– “10 Shirley Road was the home for NZ Society of Genealogists – Canterbury Branch [Est. 1968], for 21 years from February 1990 until the February 2011 earthquakes.”
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

5. Environment
– “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. If the Council decided to proceed with this option it would also need to consider commencing a change of reserve classification process.”
9. ‘Shirley Community Facility Rebuild – 10 Shirley Road’ Report, 5. Background (Page 19) & 9.9 Legal Implications (Page 27)
– Site History,, Significant Park Trees (I haven’t been able to find any history on these trees) & Dudley Creek
– “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,
– Dudley Creek Esplanade Reserve,, 159 Slater Street, Richmond, path from Slater Street to Shirley Shopping Centre (corner of Hills & Shirley Road).
– Dudley Creek,
– ‘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),

Re: Map
I would keep the focus of this interpretation panel solely for the 10 Shirley Road site/Shirley Community Reserve information.
– People: Susannah Buxton?, Morice Bing?, George Penlington & Dr Charles Dudley
– Housing: Chancellor Street Heritage Houses & Dudley Character Area
– Building: Shirley Primary School & Shirley Community Centre
– Landscape: Shirley Community Reserve & Dudley Creek

Re: Dudley Creek Flood Remediation
I had hoped that my idea for a Dudley Creek Trail ( would eventually happen, so that more stories relating to the Dudley Creek Flood Remediation could be told.
I attended a meeting & walkabout for The Green Lab Richmond Projects, but it was more about promoting ‘We are Richmond’ projects in Avebury Park & the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor.
“The route was determined by those with keen knowledge of local histories, and a later stage of creating QR codes linking to site information along the way is planned.”
Starting at 10 Shirley Road (intro on this interpretation panel), then along to the outlet at 65 Petrie Street (panel with more info regarding how/why this outlet was constructed), before ending at the Medway Street/Avon River (panel with more info regarding how/why this was finished here).
To bring residents out into their local community to appreciate the existing tree canopy while walking along Dudley Creek & finding information about local birds/sites/Dudley Creek Flood Remediation.
‘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),

6. Photos
I’ve also had trouble finding photos online, here are some suggestions/contact details:
1. Heritage New Zealand, Southern Regional Office, 64 Gloucester Street, Phone + 64 3 363 1880, Email:
The building was “Category 2 historic place (#7117)”, there isn’t much online, but surely they would have more info in their archives?
2. Christchurch City Libraries, Research Room, Tuakiri | Identity, Level 2, Tūranga (scroll down for Christchurch City Libraries photos)
Again there isn’t much online, but surely they would have more info in their archives?
3. NZ Society of Genealogists – Canterbury Branch,, General enquiries:, Research enquiries:
They included some photos in their submission, see ‘4. Community Centre’ above.
4. Richmond History Group, based at Avebury House,
It would most probably be worth a visit to their room at Avebury House, as not everything in their collection is online.
Richmond Community News, Shirley Primary School photo in the 1920s & Shirley Community Centre in the 1990s., Page 5

Unfortunately the Kete Christchurch website links in my previous email below are broken, as the website no longer exists.
But I was able to find ‘after the earthquakes/demolition’ photos on these websites below:
– Wikimedia Commons
– DigitalNZ

7. Links/Websites
Currently I’m not sure how long my websites will be ‘live’, so I’ve included the original links to the information above.
I had hoped eventually that there would be a new Centre website, that all this information could be copied to.
Otherwise it would be good to see more heritage information on the Christchurch City Council website, maybe on this page?
Heritage in the city,

Hope this information helps, let me know if you have any questions.”