The Bridge of Remembrance which links Oxford and Cambridge Terraces over the Avon River at Cashel Street was opened on Armistice Day, 11 November 1924.
It was opened by the Governor-General, Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Jellicoe, who had previously laid the foundation stone on Anzac Day, 25 April 1923.
The Bridge and its Arch of Remembrance serve as a memorial to servicemen and women of two World Wars and subsequent conflicts in Korea, Malaya, Borneo, and Vietnam.
A fitting memorial
Following the end of “The Great War” there were many competing suggestions for a war memorial, also initially called a Peace memorial. The Bridge of Remembrance was first suggested by Lilian May Wyn Irwin in a letter to The Press. Other suggestions included a hall, a museum, a monument, a new tram shelter in Cathedral Square, and a hospital ward.
The decision to build a bridge was made in February 1921. It replaces an earlier bridge over which many thousands of soldiers marched en route from King Edward barracks to the railway station and overseas service.
The Bridge and the Arch
The Bridge was designed by Wellington architects Prouse and Gummer, who won the architectural competition out of 24 entries, and built by D. Scott and Son. The sculptural work was done by local sculptors Frederick Gurnsey and Lawrence Berry. Initially open to vehicular traffic, it was reopened as a pedestrian precinct on Anzac Day 1977 by Capt. Charles H. Upham, VC and bar.
In the central frame of the arch is the inscription
Quid non pro patria (What will a man not do for his country). The Bridge also features a number of unit memorials and a memorial plaque to Charles Upham VC.
In 1989, Stage 1 of the Bridge refurbishment was completed with Stage 2 commencing in September 1991. It was completed in April 1992. A commemorative plaque dedication ceremony was held on 21 June 1992.
The Bridge of Remembrance today
The Bridge of Remembrance was structurally damaged in the 22 February 2011 earthquake. Earthquake strengthening and repairs were started in May 2013 and completed in September 2015.
The repair included replacing the original 4 metre piles with 27 metre ones, and reinforcing the historic arch with an 8.2 tonne beam. The work means that the arch, built from rock quarried in Tasmania, will rock rather than twist in any future earthquakes.
The Bridge of Remembrance re-opened to the public and rededicated on Anzac Day, Monday 25 April 2016.
- Christchurch War Memorial: Bridge of Remembrance
- A digitised publication on the history and symbolic features of the Bridge of Remembrance opened by Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa, on Armistice Day, 11 November 1924. Extracts from the address of J. Wyn Irwin, of the Bridge of Remembrance Committee.
- Public Art in Central Christchurch: Bridge of Remembrance
- Information on the Bridge and its history from this publication locating and documenting publicly owned works of art in central Christchurch [1MB PDF].
- The Bridge of Remembrance
- Information from the Christchurch City Council, including a short history.
- Christchurch City Council handbook (1998)
- Information from the Christchurch City Council about the history of the memorial.