Waste lands, Outrage, and a Matter of Time: From the CCC Archives

CCC/ARC/343/4 – Christchurch City Council/ Inward Correspondence May 1862 - March 1863

The CCC Archives are beginning to digitise and make publicly available some of our most vulnerable, fragile and fascinating early records of the Council. CCC/ARC/343/4 – the first volume of inward correspondence to the Christchurch City Council from May 1862-March 1863 is now complete and available to the public to view.

This volume of correspondence includes the very early transactions with the Provincial Government at the time of the establishment of CCC, such as the allocation of 10,000 acres of ‘waste lands’ to the city (item 1, page 1, February 19th, 1862) and the election of the first Municipal Council (item 2, page 3, February 26th 1862). As expected, there are many letters regarding the inevitable work that took place in the early days of the city – draining swampy land, dealing with of sanitary conditions (or lack thereof), the building of roads, footpaths, and bridges, sinking of artesian wells amongst other things. But they also feature a wide range of issues and concerns that were facing the citizens of the early city.

Interesting letters include item 94 (page 166, 15th Nov 1862) from the volunteer fire brigade requesting the Council to help them pay the men who assist them during a fire ‘as it is usual during a fire of any magnitude to employ men from the crowd of bystanders’.

There's a letter of outrage from the Albion Cricket Club (item 85, page 149, 20th Oct 1862) over a young man who insisted on riding his horse through their cricket games in Latimer Square (not to mention their newly prepared ground).

W G Carver (the Officer of Customs) wants to step down from his responsibility from firing the signal gun, at that time fired each Sat at 12pm for the regulation of time for the public, which you’ll find in item 49 (page 80, 5th July 1862). He also suggests the time between Christchurch and Lyttelton be regulated so both towns maintained the same public time, particularly with the advent of the electric telegraph allowing ‘instant communication’.

Concerns about public health include the letter from T W Maude (Provincial Government Secretary) from 12th June 1862 (item 36, page 59) which suggested the council pass a regulation for the public to ‘cleanse their houses’ in cases of fever ‘for the prevention of spread of infection’.

The danger of the lack of lighting in certain areas of the city was pointed out by Frank Guinness (Inspector of Police) on the 12th December 1862 (item 108, page 191) – ‘the danger to anyone passing on horseback is considerable – perhaps the Council could take some means to have this danger lessened’.

This first volume of correspondence is now being hosted by our friends at Christchurch City Libraries via Canterbury Stories with links to it from our CCC Archives webpages:

This volume of correspondence has been indexed and this is available on our website – so you can search on the name of a person or street, or subject, that you are interested in. Browse the index. Please note that only the first volume from the index has so far been digitised and it appears in the index as CH343/6a, items 1-147. The next volume will be digitised in the new financial year.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Heritage Highlights: Working for the City: an introduction to CCC Archives Wednesday 29 March 10am to 11am

The Christchurch City Council Archives date back to the beginning of CCC in 1862 and holds records for both the original Council and the many amalgamated bodies that have joined with us since. It holds a rich resource of material documenting the history of our city – from our built environment (buildings, bridges, streets), to our services (drainage, electricity, health, transport), our culture (theatres, libraries, swimming pools) and our people.  Come along to hear the CCC Archivist Annabel Armstrong-Clarke provide an insight into this fascinating record of our past.

Where: Auaha Hīhī/ Spark Place, Ground Floor, Tūranga
Cost: $FREE
Booking Required: Book online

Christchurch City Council Archives

Annabel Armstrong-Clarke
CCC Archivist