The Glenmark – Tragedy and a Fortune in Colonial Gold

“The tale of a shipwreck has for most readers a fascination unequalled by any other of the many forms of tragedy which from time to time sweep some unlucky band or section of humanity into eternity, and during last century [19th Century] shipping disasters were all too frequent around our rugged and then little-known coast….

“Letter From New Zealand” …or Provincial Propoganda?

Dear Father and Mother, l arrived here all safe on the 23rd of September, after a splendid voyage of 94 days without a single storm. I enjoyed the voyage very much and was kindly treated by everybody, plenty to do and plenty of friends. I have nothing to say against the Government, for they looked…

“Would to God I had never heard the name of New Zealand”

“To tell you is a great task, for I can assure you it is a most awful country,” wrote James Boot from Christchurch, New Zealand in letter to his parents in Nottingham, England in June, 1864. “Would to God I had never heard the name of New Zealand…

1880s Christchurch – Dull and as Flat as a Kitchen Table

In 1886, an English woman who called herself ‘Hopeful’, wrote of her experiences after emigrating to Christchurch, New Zealand.  She berated the agents of shipping companies who painted New Zealand in glowing terms to attract more people to emigrate. Hopeful felt she had made a huge sacrifice by giving up all she had loved in…

The Canterbury Ladies’ Slaves

Imagine you were born 100 years ago… what job would you have done? If you are female, part of the working class and living in England, then there is a one in three chance that you would be part of the largest women’s industry in the Kingdom – domestic service. If you are under fifteen…

Domestic Maids and the Curse of the Bloody Handprint

This charming advertisement designed in 1913, was printed onto postcards and distributed at the New Zealand High Commission Office in London to attract young, single women to the colony. Irregardless of their limited education, the new colony desperately wanted more young women to fill domestic positions in hotels and private homes of prosperous immigrants. One…

S & H Nashelski’s Melbourne House

Beside Christchurch’s Town Hall, stood Solomon Nashelski’s hardware and ironmonger’s shop.  Called ‘Melbourne House’, this small shop was later replaced with a permanent brick and mortar version. Solomon Nashelski (1822 – 1890) and his nephew, Hiram arrived in Christchurch in 1864 after purchasing the business, J. Caro & Co. Ironmongers. They renamed the small wooden one…

Iconic Ice-cream Charlie, Cathedral Square

‘Ice Cream Charlie’ operated a well-known ice cream cart in Cathedral Square for much of the first half of the twentieth century. He was reknowned for his friendly nature and delicious ice cream which he sold for most of the year from his cart. This ‘snapshot’ of him striding through the Square was taken around…

Von Sierakowski & Co, Corner of Colombo and Tuam Streets 1906

Oscar von Sierakowski’s factory and shop was built on the corner of Colombo and Tuam Streets in 1906.  It boasted that it was the largest wire work factory in the colonies, producing decorative wire fences, garden arches, flower stands, hanging baskets, fire screens, dress stands, bed and sofa springs, a very fine collection of bird cages,…

Deutsche Kirche, corner of Worcester and Montreal Streets, 1880

It is the year 1880 and Wilhelmina Arnst and John Christian Aschen have just married in the Deutsche Kirche, on the corner of Worcester and Montreal Streets. They stand outside on the street with their family, friends, Pastor Theodore Albert Meyer (third from the right) and his wife and daughter. The German church was built…