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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood



This town, as our readers are aware, was the spot where the Canterbury settlers landed, and where the first attempts at a settlement were made. Indeed, for many years, although Christchurch, Kaiapoi, and Papanui were slowly growing, it was the principal town of the province. The port, and the centre from which all business was carried on, it was originally intended to make it the Cathedral City, but its circumscribed limits caused settlers to prefer the plains, and Christchurch became the more page 148important. Gradually the head offices of merchants were removed to Christchurch, the principal Customs work followed, and the opening of the tunnel, with railway communication, put the finishing stroke to the change. Lyttelton became the port, and the port only. Its business changed in consequence. In 1855, agitation commenced for its formation into a municipality, which shortly afterwards was granted to it. Since then it has managed its own local matters very satisfactorily. The earnest commencement of its present magnificent harbour works was the signal for its revival from the depression which had attended on the removal of nearly all the merchants' business to Christchurch, and since then it has thriven well. It has now 4500 inhabitants, and the valuation of its buildings for rateable purposes is £25,538. The tonnage of the vessels entered inwards in 1884 was 491,590, and of those outwards 474,633. The value of New Zealand produce exported in the twelve months ending June 30, 1884, was £1,541,225, and the revenue collected at the port in the same period was £194,786 1s 5d.

The public institutions in Lyttelton are the Harbour Board, the Orphanage, the Sailors' Home, and a casual hospital ward. Descriptions of these we give below:—

Harbour Works.

The history of the Lyttelton Harbour Works may be said to have commenced in 1863. True, there were before then the Government Jetty, an extension of the one 150 feet long originally built by Captain Thomas before the arrival of the first settlers, suitable for moderate vessels in fair weather, and the wharf originally constructed by Tribe, used by lighters and small coasters; but harbour works, in the proper sense of the term, there were none, ships having to lie out in the stream, loading and discharging as best they could by means of lighters.

In 1863, the want of shipping accommodation at Lyttelton being felt to be a serious drawback to the province, a commission was appointed by the Provincial Government to enquire into and report—

1st.Upon the proper site for the construction of a wharf of a durable character for unloading in all weathers the largest ships then frequenting the port, admitting of easy access to the railway.
2nd.Upon the best means of providing wharfage accommodation sufficient for the immediate traffic of the port, and especially for the steamers then frequenting it.
3rd.To offer any further suggestions which might be thought desirable.
page 149

After meeting almost daily for about two months and taking a mass of evidence, the Commission reported, recommending, chiefly, a breakwater extending from Officers' Point, with quays, and a breastwork connecting it with the railway tunnel. This report was sent home and submitted to Robert Stephenson, who approved of it. The breakwater was commenced by prison labour without any mechanical appliances beyond shovels and wheel-barrows, and for nine years it crept but slowly on, till at length the contract for its construction, at a cost of £150,000, was let to Messrs Hawkins and Martindale, and the work was pushed on vigorously. In 1876, Provincial institutions were abolished, and in 1877 the Lyttelton Harbour Board was called into existence by Act of the General Assembly, when all the further necessary works were entered upon. Since then, £300,000 have been spent on them. They include two breakwaters, extending from Officers' and Naval Points, enclosing a water area of about 109 acres. They are both formed of rubble stone, faced on the outer slopes with huge blocks of stone. The one from Officers' Point is 2010 feet long, with a width of 40 feet on the top and an elevation of six feet above high water spring tides, with a timber breastwork built along its inner face for nearly its entire length. The other is 1400 feet in length. The depth of water inside the breakwaters varies from 19 up to 25 feet at low tides. The inner harbour is still being further deepened by dredging, so that vessels drawing 25 feet may be berthed inside the moles at any time of the tide. Vessels up to 5000 tons can now be safely berthed at some of the wharves.

The berthage space within the inner harbour, which is capable of extension, is 10,160 feet, capable of berthing, without double-banking, 20 ocean ships and steamers, 20 barques and brigs, 8 intercolonial steamers, and 30 schooners, &c.

A special wharf, with shed accommodation, is being built for ocean steamers. In the meantime, berths are provided at two of the jetties for these steamers, with a depth of 25 feet at low spring tides.

Special berthage space is provided for men-of-war. Six or seven can shortly be berthed at the moorings inside the breakwaters, and three at least can be so moored now without in any way interfering with the ordinary shipping of the port.

Six sets of Mitchell's patent screw moorings are laid down in the inner harbour, capable of holding vessels up to 2000 tons.

The graving dock is capable of docking a first-class ironclad and any of the large ocean steamers now running to these colonies. The s.s. Ruapehu, the latest of the N. Z. Shipping page 150Company's fleet, was successfully docked, cleaned, and painted in four days only a short time ago. The dimensions of the dock are as follows:—Length on floor, 450 feet; width on floor, 46 feet; width on top, 82 feet; width of entrance, 62 feet; width where ship's bridge would be, 54 feet; depth on sill at high water, 23 feet. The total cost, including pumping machinery and caisson, was £104,000.

The whole of the wharves and jetties have lines of rails laid down on them, and are worked by the railway. Large shed accommodation is provided, including a large grain export shed, 520 feet long. Besides these, there is also ample storage accommodation in Lyttelton, two sheds alone being capable of holding: 11,000 tons of grain.

The Board have a powerful steam tug, built for them by Messrs Laird, of Birkenhead, which is constantly on the look-out for vessels requiring her services outside the Heads. The day signals for the tug are, answering pennant over letter N; and night signals, three blue lights burnt in succession. As a watch is always kept at the Heads Pilot Station Look-out, vessels giving these signals can be seen.

The Orphanage.

The Orphanage was commenced many years ago in two little cottages in Montreal-street, Christchurch, on the site of the first printing office occupied by the Press newspaper. It was at that time purely a Church of England institution, managed by a committee. The demand upon its resources and accommodation increasing, a building was erected at Addington, the cost being defrayed by private subscriptions, and the proceeds of a monster fancy bazaar at which £700 were realised. To this the children were removed, the maintenance being effected by private subscriptions, supplemented by grants from the Provincial Government, the whole being still under the management of a committee, who handed it over to the Provincial Government. When the Lyttelton Hospital was abandoned the children and staff were removed to that building—where they are still located—and the control was handed over to the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board.

The building, which—very pleasantly situated on a hill over-looking the harbour—is one of the prominent features of Lyttelton, is not perhaps the most suitable for the purpose, still it affords most ample and comfortable accommodation for the children. Dormitories, school-room, dining-hall, work-rooms, page 151and baths, are large, well ventilated, and well furnished, the walls being tastefully tinted and decorated. The children are well dressed, fed, and cared for, and look thoroughly healthy and happy. They have two large playgrounds covered with tan and provided with poles, swings, &c., for gymnastic exercises. The school is exactly like any other Government school, having the same Standards and visited by the Government Inspector. The children are kept till the age of fourteen, when they are put out to earn their own livelihood. The girls, besides attending school, are thoroughly taught house-work, plain cooking, washing, and even waiting at table, so as to thoroughly fit them for domestic service. The institution is under the management of a superintendent (Mr. Ritchey), who possesses unusually good qualifications for the post, and takes a warm interest in the welfare of the little ones confided to his charge.

Lyttelton Sailors' Home.

The Sailors' Home—a fitting adjunct to a shipping port—is a building in every way suited to its purpose. Since 1865 there has been a "Home" in Lyttelton, and a very prosperous institution it has been; but it was only in March, 1883, that the foundation-stone of the present building, in Norwich. Quay, was laid, and it is only within the past few months that it has been completed and occupied. It is a two-storey brick building, with a lofty, well-lit basement. On the ground floor are a dining-room, 25 feet long, and four other rooms, used for reading, smoking, office, and occasional rooms. On the basement are kitchen, scullery, pantry, store-rooms, and some bedrooms. The top floor is entirely devoted to bedrooms. These are all a good size, well lit and ventilated, well furnished, and with clean, comfortable-looking bedding—quite up to the standard of most hotels, and considerably cleaner, better, and more comfortable than the rooms usually devoted to Jack ashore, either in boarding-houses or hotels. There are three bath-rooms fitted up with hot and cold water, and every convenience. The sitting-rooms are also well furnished, clean, and comfortable, and everywhere in the Home evidence is to be seen that comfort and cleanliness are the ends aimed at. There is accommodation for 32 boarders, and the average number staying has been about 28. The charge is 16s 6d per week, or 2s 6d per day. Three good meals are supplied for this. It is, of course, conducted on temperance principles. The management of the institution is in the hands of a committee consisting of six members of the Lyttelton Harbour Board.