The Bank of New Zealand, corner of Cathedral Square, Hereford and Colombo Street

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Bank of New Zealand Building, Cathedral Square 1867 Source:Christchurch City Libraries, CCL Photo CD 6
Bank of New Zealand Building, Cathedral Square 1867.  Source: Decision of the Court of Appeal, 1930. Image: Christchurch City Libraries File Reference Photo CD 6, IMG0071.

The impressive Bank of New Zealand building occupied a large corner of Cathedral Square and junction of Hereford and Colombo Streets.

The Bank of New Zealand was first established in Auckland in 1861. It soon moved to Christchurch, opening in a small two storey wooden building on Cashel Street, near the Weekly Press Office, on 1st March, 1862,

In 1866, the bank commissioned Melbourne architect, Leonard Terry to design a grand building for a new and prominent site on the corner of the square. The classical Greek Revival style was built under Robert Speechley’s supervision. The single storey stone body was elevated on high foundations.  Three of its identical sides faced main streets but its main steps and entrance were on Hereford Street.  The bank’s interior chamber was well lit on all sides and was handsomely finished. The new building exuded a permanence and classicism made popular by banks during the boom years of the late 1850s to mid 1860s.

Bank of New Zealand Building on left, Cathedral Square c. 1893 -95
Bank of New Zealand Building on left, Cathedral Square c. 1893-95. Source: Bridge and Hastings family records. Image: Christchurch City Libraries File Reference CCL PhotoCD 14, IMG0014.

In 1878, a complimentary extension, designed by W. B. Armson, was added to the original bank.

Below, this view from the cathedral spire not only gives a good view of the bank but also a sweeping angle of Christchurch’s main streets littered with a huge amount of horse manure. It provides us with a clear impression of how dirty and smelly the streets of Victorian Christchurch must have been.

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