Foundation stone laid for a memorial on Anzac Day

After the ‘Great War’ ended, there were many competing ideas for a permanent war memorial in Christchurch. Options discussed were varied and included a museum, a monument, a new tram shelter in Cathedral Square or a hospital ward. Vigorous debate around the suitability of the options often played out in The Press in letters to the Editor.

One very popular suggestion that came to fruition was initially offered by Lilian May Wyn Irwin in a letter to the Editor of the Press on 24 July 1919. This was to retain the arches that were created for the Peace celebrations held the previous week and combine these with a memorial bridge at the site of the Cashel Street Bridge. This was an appropriate location as all Canterbury soldiers would have crossed this bridge as they were coming and going from the King Edward Barracks.

A War Memorial Committee was created and after much campaigning and fundraising, the foundation stone for the Bridge of Remembrance was laid on Anzac Day in 1923.The day's proceedings followed a formal order of ceremony with the Governor General Viscount Jellicoe laying the foundation stone and addressing the crowd.

The Bridge of Remembrance took just over one and a half years to complete, officially opening on Armistice Day, 11 November 1924, and is the only memorial arch on a bridge in New Zealand.

Upcoming First World War exhibitions

Halswell Heroes Exhibition Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre

9 April to 6 May
Staff from Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre, Upper Riccarton, and Spreydon libraries share their research from the war stories
of men who enlisted from the Halswell area. Ready either to live or die valiantly, these are the stories not only of the men who died during the war, but those that came
home to live, their stories just as valiant as the men who never made it home.

Sumner Boys Exhibition Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

25 April to 25 May
A collaborative display of research on the war stories of men who enlisted from the Sumner area. Stories and photos are included of soldiers on the roll of honour located on the
wall outside Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre.

More about the Bridge of Remembrance

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This article was published in uncover- huraina issue 7, March to May 2018

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