Lichfield Street, between Colombo and High Streets, 1883


Lichfield Street, between Colombo and High Streets, 1883.
Lichfield Street, between Colombo & High Streets, 1883. Source: Burton Bros. Image: Christchurch City Libraries. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 5, IMG0058

The growing permanence and sophistication of Christchurch, is evident in this photograph of Lichfield Street.  Taken by the Burton Brother's, the photograph shows us that the little frontier town has finally grown up.  It has been over thirty years since its beginning and now a sense of grandness has replaced the ramshackle lines of old shops which once lined the street. The buildings here in 1883 are the Mason, Struthers & Co Buildingl, Alfred Tyree & Co. Boot and Shoe Manufacturers (tallest building), Harcourt & Co. Building, Sargood, Son & Ewen Building and Clarke & Son Building.

A covered wagon, open wagon deliver goods, and many onlookers have come out from their premises to pose outside the buildings.

It had only been a few years earlier, on 6th February, 1879, when a strong south westerly wind blew strongly through the city's streets and a fire broke out near here in the large wooden building occupied by Saunders & Co, Messrs Sargood, Son and Ewen, and Sorenson & Co. All merchants stored soft goods so it did not take long before the fire took hold of its inflammable stock and contents. The fire spread in the back of the upstairs warehouse and smoke billowed from the windows in all directions, preventing anything from being saved. Despite the building's proximity to the Fire Station next door, attempts by the Brigade to control the fire were useless. Its strength and fury was so great that the entire building was gutted and all of its contents lost.

Loosing no time, Sargood, Son and Ewen rebuilt their premises in brick and stone, just six days later. Perhaps insurance claims were settled more promptly in those days!


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