Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Head for Heights: Steeple Balancing on Christchurch Cathedral, New Zealand, 1903

Aspiring to excellence...
(click image for a larger view)

"Much excitement was caused in Christchurch on Monday week, when a workman was seen on the top of scaffolding erected around the spire of the Cathedral. The man [Arthur James Watts, 1863-1956] was engaged in boring the hole in which the cross which surmounts the Cathedral is to be placed". The Weekly Press, 8 July 1903, p. 28. Christchurch City Library photo collection.

Earthquake damage to the Cathedral spire in 1888 and 1901.The 1901 damage is on the left, the earlier 1888 damage on the right. The Canterbury Times, 20 Nov. 1901, p. 38.

The original stone spire was damaged in three earthquakes. On 15 Dec. 1881, an earthquake lasting 45 seconds brought down some ornamental moulding. On 1 Sept. 1888, the top 7.8 metres of the spire collapsed as shown in the photograph above (right side view). A third quake on 16 Nov. 1901, shook loose the top 1.5 metres of stonework necessitating the repairs being completed by Mr. Watts and others in the top picture. The spire was remodelled in hardwood sheathed in metal to reduce the dangers associated with fractured and falling masonry.

The Cathedral under construction circa 1880 looking at the east arch from Worcester Street.
(click image for a larger view)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Winds of Change - Brooklyn Wind Turbine, Wellington, NZ

The Brooklyn Wind Turbine, 2009.
All photos on this page copyrighted 2009.

The Brooklyn wind turbine on the hills above Wellington, New Zealand was installed in 1993 to assist in wind power experiments. Located on the top of a hill in the "Windy City", notorious for its strong prevailing north westerly winds, sometimes reaching gale force, the turbine is located in an excellent spot for testing whether wind power can be harnessed effectively.

Subsequently passing into the ownership of Meridian Energy, the turbine stands 31.5 metres tall, weighs almost 23 tonnes, and has a maximum generating capacity of 0.23 megawatts, sufficient to power 60 to 80 Wellington homes.

The Turbine looking uphill from the northerly slope within the Karori Wildlife sanctuary. Only wish there were sound effects so you could hear the swoosh, swoosh of the blades.

Down below on the northerly slope, just a few hundred metres away, life goes on fairly much as usual for the tuatara, North Island robin, a lime green caterpillar, and the tree fern in the Karori Wildlife sanctuary.

Tuatara, 2009

North Island Robin

Caterpillar on the forest floor

koru, unfolding fern frond, symbolizing new life, unfurling on a tree fern, 2009.

Winds of change... does the long-lived tuatara wonder whether "this too shall pass" - or "shall I pass" into extinction? Which will survive the other, the tuatara or the wind turbine? The wind is older than both and surely will survive them both.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Empire Dive - Empire Hotel, High Street, Christchurch, 1901

The Empire Hotel, 212 High Street, opposite High & Cashel Street corner. The entrance to the Empire Dive bar can be seen on the left of the buidling.
Photo: Steffano Webb, circa 1910.

During the Victorian Age, it is perhaps of little surprise that British & colonial pride in the rapid expansion of the Empire resulted in just about every town of any note in New Zealand acquiring an Empire Hotel. Christchurch was no exception, having one not only in the central city but also one in the Port of Lyttelton, the latter continuing in business to the present day, see here. The High Street Empire Hotel is long gone.

The Empire in High Street and its enticingly entitled bar, "The Empire Dive" (Queen Victoria, one might wager would not have been amused), as might be expected, feature on a regular basis in the court reports of the local newspapers. Drunkeness, minor assaults, public disorderliness, violation of prohibitions on entry to the premises by convicted drunkards, petty theft, and licensing issues are the primary subjects of these reports.

One of the more serious incidents involved charges being brought against the publican-licensee and a barman for having permitted the drunkeness on his premises and of serving alcohol to an already intoxicated patron, one William Emerson who sustained head injuries from a falling down stairs in the Empire Dive on 17 August 1901 that subsequently contributed to his death a few days later.

While evidence was given by a Christchurch Hospital doctor that the deceased had been intoxicated upon admission to hospital shortly after being injured in the fall, other witness testimony that Emerson did not appear intoxicated upon entering the premises and only had one drink before sustaining his fall weighed heavier in the Magistrate's decision to dismiss the charges.

One wonders, if Dr McArthur, S.M., felt he was getting the full facts, however, given that Henry Emerson, Emerson's son, had stated at the prior inquest into the death that his father had previously been affected by heavy drinking. But Emerson fils would not repeat such a statement in the magistrate's court. Instead, he assigned his father's shakiness on the morning of the accident to the effects of a cold.

The Star, 13 September 1901, p. 3.

Photographs or sketches of such places as the Empire Dive are not ephemera that typically get produced or preserved for posterity, but one can hazard a guess at the salubrious conditions that prevail in such places. Memories of the Dungeon bar on Lambton Quay, Wellington from several decades ago, a favoured watering hole at the time for Treasury officials & other assorted public servants spring to mind.

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child - Petty Theft At The Empire Dive

Star , Issue 6444, 25 March 1899, Page 5


CHRISTCHURCH. Saturday, March 25. [Before Mr R. Beetham, S.M.]

"Petty Theft.— Frederick Armitage, ten years of age, and Albert Amos, fourteen years of age, were charged with having, on March 20, stolen a bicycle lamp, value 7s 6d, the property of John Carl. Detective Chrystall outlined the facts of the case.

On March 20 Mr J. Carl, licensee of the Empire Hotel, left a bicycle lamp in a room on the ground floor of the hotel, access to which could be gained both from the rear end front of the premises. No one, however, had any right to enter the room, which was a private one.

The lamp was, in the course of a few hours, missed, and it was later ascertained that the two accused had offered it for sale to Mr Pyke, second-hand dealer, who, not considering the boys answers as to how they came by the lamp satisfactory, telephoned to the police.

On being questioned by Detective Fitzgerald, one of the boys admitted that they had taken it from a "passage". Sergeant Dugan said the boy Amos was allowed by his parents to run wild about the streets, where he was to be seen selling flowers. The other boy was unknown to the police.

Mr Beetham sentenced each of the accused to receive twelve strokes of the birch rod.

In 2009, New Zealanders are caught up in a debate over a much milder form of corporal punishment: the smacking of children by parents.

Legislation passed in 2007 essentially criminalised smacking by withdrawing the justification of discipline as a defence against a charge of assault of a child under section 59 of the Crimes Act. A public initiative campaigned for a national referendum on the matter, the results of which will merely be advisory or informational for the government.

Voters have until 21 August to vote in the referendum on the question: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

No one, it must be pointed out, is calling for a return of the birch, though no doubt in some dark alley somewhere there are still a few troglodytes muttering to themselves "bring back the birch".

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Working for the Shakedown - Prostitution in Christchurch - 1888

Star , Issue 6178, 5 March 1888, Page 2


"This Day. At the R.M. Court to-day, before Messrs R. Westenra and J. V. Ross; J.P.'s:

George Hall, Phoebe Chadwick alias Codlin, and Jane Brown, were charged with stealing the sum of £3 5s from the person of Denis Reardon, in Hawdon
[sic - "Whore Den"] street, Sydenham on March 2. The accused elected to be tried by this Court, and pleaded " Not Guilty."

Denis Reardon said he came into town with over £4 in his pocket. He met Brown near the Palace Hotel. Went with her to her house. He had by this time reduced his funds by drinks to
£3 5s.

At twelve o'clock he woke up, and found that all his money was gone. Heard Codlin say that that wretch (Brown) had ""gone through" that man. She also said that Brown had the money in her stocking. This she denied.

Was willing to have taken half the money, and went down to another house with her to see if the half of it could be procured; but she would not give him "not a cent," and he gave the matter over to the detective. There was not another soul in the house, but these three and himself at the time.

Codlin, Brown and Hall cross-examined the witness with the usual volubility of the "you're another "-ing style those people usually adopt. Brown asserted that all tbe money had been given to her by Reardon.

Detective R. Neil said he had gone to the house those people occupied and arrested the prisoners. He found 13s 9d on Brown, and £1 6s on Codlin.

Asked Brown to take off her boots and stockings to see if she had any money there, but she hadn't. Brown said that Hall and the woman Codlin had stolen the money. Hall had lived on the woman Codlin for two years.

Constable Duggan said he had known Codlin to be a prostitute for a long time, and Hall had been living on her. He did no work, and had often been in gaol. Hall said he was a dealer and attended sales, buying "little things" and selling them again to make a shilling or two. He was willing to work, but could find none.

Codlin said Reardon had given her 4s 6d to buy drink, which she had done, and Constable Duggan saw her carrying it. Brown said she had nothing to say beyond what she had already said.

Detective R. Neil reckoned the whole lot up in one act. Hall was a worthless pennyworth who lived on Codlin's prostitution. Codlin was one of the lowest characters - so was Brown, and a thief to boot. The Bench said they were all a downright bad lot, and would get two months' hard labour each — "the whole blessed lot of them." "

Phoebe Chadwick, aka Codlin, was a long time prostitute and brothel keeper in Christchurch. Her name features in the Magisterial columns of the Christchurch newspapers between 1868 to 1888, at least, for convictions for drunkeness, public disorderliness, larceny, and keeping a brothel.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Prostitution in Christchurch - 1870

Star , Issue 772, 14 November 1870, Page 2


"— Joseph Cripps, A. P. Tower, W. Elliott, J. Smith, and W. Ford were jointly charged with having been concerned in a disturbance in a public thoroughfare yesterday morning.

Constable Wilson said, at half-past two o'clock on Sunday morning, he was informed there was a fight in Colombo street south, and on proceeding there he found the prisoners outside a brothel in Evans' paddock.

The door of the house was open, and Cripps was fighting with another man named Perryman, who managed to make his escape. The place was upset, the door of the house and other things, inside and outside, being broken.

There was a great noise; so much so, that it could be heard from the Railway gates. Cripps and Perryman were the worst, although the rest were very rowdy.

Ford, being drunk, was arrested, and becoming violent, had to be handcuffed before he could be got to the Depot. Phoebe Chadwick, owner of the brothel, corroborated the evidence about the row, adding that the door of the house was broken.

Detective Feast said the accused Elliott, Smith, and Ford were constantly hanging about brothels. Elliott had lived some time with the proprietress of a brothel at Bricks wharf, and was the constant associate of thieves. Not long ago, a man was robbed in the house under very suspicious circumstances.

Power and Cripps "were employed at the Theatre, and Elliott, he further stated, had resided for some time with a convicted thief.

His Worship said the affair was a very disgraceful one. Four of the accused had not been charged before, but Cripps had been twice fined during the present year, and each time for a breach of the peace. The Bench would warn the whole of them that if they went on in this way they would get into considerable trouble, for, if again brought up, the present case would be a mark against them, and they would be severely dealt with. The accused Cripps said he intended to leave for Dunedin at once. His Worship said Cripps, as evidently the worst character, of the five, would be fined 60s, and the others 20s each.

Anonymous Letter.— His Worship said he desired to state publicly that he had received an anonymous letter, complaining about a particular hotel in the city, and also
about riots at other such places of entertainment. All he could say in reference to it was that if the person who wrote the letter would lay an information, the matter would be looked into, but the police could not act upon communications of such a nature. It was the want of information which, as a rule, was the great difficulty with the police in such cases. The letter was then handed over to the police, with instructions to endeavour to find out who was the writer of it."

One wonders what the good citizens of Dunedin would have thought of the imminent arrival of Mr Joseph Cripps in their fair city after his Christchurch misdemeanors.

Of course, after the legalisation of prostitution in New Zealand in 2003, none of this public disorder and criminal activity occurs around prostitution in Christchurch today, right? Well, sadly, no. Streetwalkers in particular are occasionally found murdered at the back of car parks, floating down the Avon River and the like.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dealing With Cook Strait Stowaways - 1882

The SS Penguin Negotiating French Pass. Postcard view early 1900s

Star , Issue 4485, 8 September 1882, Page 3

"A couple of knowing travellers who thought they would get a cheap steamboat trip were very much deceived on the last run to Nelson of the s.s. Penguin from Wellington.

On the purser going his rounds to collect tickets as usual while the vessel was going down the harbour, two individuals, says the New Zealand Times, were found in the steerage who had no tickets, and who told the purser to go to a particularly warm place. He appealed to the captain and the chief officer, and they received from the intruders similar replies.

The skipper wasted no time in parleying. As the men would neither produce tickets nor money, and were still abusive, he slackened speed, put the men in a boat, their exit over the side being expedited by the remark of the burly and muscular chief officer that if they did not look sharp he'd help them along, and they were landed on the rocks at Pencarrow Head, with the cheerful prospect of night closing in, and a thirty-five miles walk before reaching Wellington.

Pencarrow Head, lighthouse on the cliff top (shoreline light built 1906). View looking north up harbour from outside entrance. Wellington city is in the far left top corner direction. Stowaways must walk the circumference of the harbour. Petre, photo, circa 1940s.

How they fared on the journey we do not know, but this effective method of dealing with stowaways seems infinitely better than detaining a vessel in port while the offenders get sentenced to a week's free board and lodging in gaol, after having had a free trip to the port they have desired to reach."

Pencarrow Head Lighthouse, Wellington Harbour entrance with steamer passing through harbour entrance, circa 1920s. Wellington City lies in a direct line beyond the line of sight of the lighthouse in this view but over the headland in the distance. Photographer unidentified. Alexander Turnbull Library collection.

Anyone who knows Wellington harbour, knows that's a very loooooooooooooooong, cold, and most likely windy walk. And that you can see your final destination for much of the way.

Footnote: The Penguin was to have a terrible fate. On 12 February 1909, a hundred years ago, the Penguin on a crossing from Nelson hit Thoms Rock at Cape Terawhiti outside Wellington Harbour. 72 of the 102 persons on board were lost, making the Penguin sinking New Zealand's worst maritime disaster in the twentieth century.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sunday Work Down On The Farm - A Century Ago

Cocksfoot Harvesting, Wainui, Banks Peninsula, circa 1900.

The Akaroa Mail editorial, as reprinted by the Ellesmere Guardian, 2 February 1898, p. 3:

"The climax of interfering legislation was (says the Akaroa Mail) reached on Sunday, when P. Glyan, who was busy with his cocksfoot, was stopped with a threat of immediate prosecution if he proceeded with the work.

It is well-known that an obsolete act of Charles II, that peculiarly virtuous monarch, has been adopted by our Legislature in part, so that at this end of the nineteenth century it is possible to render yourself liable to punishment by endeavouring to take the ox out of the pit.

For many years past we have been accustomed to hear the whirr of the reaping machines on the plains through the day and night of Sunday, saving the grain from the terrible nor'-westers, "and no man said them nay."

It is reserved for a constable in a remote locality to make what we think an unnecessary fuss.

After the experience of the terrible fires of last week, of the fierce nor'westers trying to drive every grain of cocksfoot from the heads, does it not make any reasonable person writhe to think that farmers should be prevented from snatching from destruction their chief means of maintenance?"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One Man's Life: Richard Arthur Haydon

"The immigrants ... are a healthy, intelligent class of persons, and are likely in every respect to form good colonists." The Star, 22 October 1883.

This judgement of the Star's reporter on the character and disposition of the passengers recently arrived on the SS Taranaki held particulary true for one of them, Richard Haydon, through the rest of his life in New Zealand.

Disembarking at Lyttelton, it appears he spent some time in Christchurch before heading north. Perhaps it was in Christchurch, that as a government-assisted immigrant, he signed up with the New Zealand Railways.

In an addendum to his shipboard diary, Richard records: "started at East Town [Wanganui] Oct. 7th 1884". At East Town Haydon found employment in the New Zealand Railways' workshops.

Living at Aramoho he became engaged in his work as a railways carpenter and in social life. Within a few years he was chair of the Railways Benefit Club for employees and played regularly for the local Railways rugby and cricket teams.

In December 1887 he married Eleanor Grace Salome Ellis who came from the same area in Devon as he did. Together they would have seven children, their two sons dying in young adulthood.

From Wanganui, the Haydons moved to Dunedin where Richard worked at the Hillside railway workshops. By 1909, Richard had put in 24 and a half years of service in the Railways, attaining the rank of Lead Carpenter earning 11 shillings & sixpence per day.

The family remained in Dunedin at least until sometime during World War I because the family lore suggests that he was a member of a pipe band that farewelled troops departing for overseas service. At least one of their children, daughter Amy, married in Dunedin during the war years.

The Haydons moved back to Christchurch where Richard and Eleanor would see out the remainder of their lives.

Richard finished out his working career at the Addington workshops, the family home being located on Clarence Road that formed the western perimeter of the workshops.

Reflecting their deep attachment to their early life in Devon, the Haydons named their house "Chudleigh" after Richard's home town. Sadly, the house burned to the ground a few years later, necessitating relocation to a new home in Mathesons Road.

Richard Haydon died in Christchurch on 18 July 1927 at the aged of 62, Eleanor surviving him by eleven years. Richard had had little time to enjoy his retirement but he had made his own modest contribution, as many thousands of others had, to the emerging New Zealand way of life.

Richard Arthur Haydon was my great-grandfather.