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Historic Place Category 1
Reserve (Lawns Ornamental Gardens and Ornamental Buildings), Canterbury Land District
This clock tower was originally designed by Benjamin Mountfort to be erected on top of the first wooden section of his Canterbury Provincial Council Chambers. It proved to be too heavy for the building and it was placed in the courtyard of the Chambers until 1864. It was then placed in storage at the Council yards on Oxford Terrace until the Council decided, over thirty years later, to use it as a monument for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. In 1897 it was erected on a stone base at the corner of Manchester, High and Lichfield Streets. However it came to be seen as a traffic hazard and was moved to its current site in Victoria Street in 1930. At this time a new clock was installed.
The clock tower itself was made from iron by Skidmore and Sons in Coventry, England and sent out to New Zealand in 1860 in 142 packages. Mountfort's original design was somewhat modified due to the cost. The design becomes increasingly delicate as it ascends and originally the wrought iron railing and scroll work were covered in gold leaf.
In 1897 a competition held for the design of the stone base, on which the tower was eventually erected, was won by Strouts and Ballantyne. (Frederick Strouts is remembered particularly for his design of Ivey Hall, Lincoln and Otahuna at Tai Tapu. His partner, Robert Ballantyne initially trained under him).
The clock tower is an important landscape feature in Christchurch and significant as part of Mountfort's original design for the Provincial Council Chambers. The clock tower is also 'a remarkable example of High Victorian ironwork' and its association with Queen Victoria's Jubilee makes explicit the link between colonial New Zealand and Victorian Britain.
- Designed: 1858
- Original Construction: 1860 (circa)
- Modification: 1897 (circa)
- Other: 1930 (circa)
- R.C. Lamb, Street Corner: A Study to Mark the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Founding of the Caxton Press, Christchurch, 1967
- Ian Lochhead, A Dream of Spires: Benjamin Mountfort and the Gothic Revival, Christchurch, 1999,p.104
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