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Letter from the Provincial Telegraph Manager to the Town Clerk, September 1865, informing him that telegraph poles for the new West Coast telegraph line would need to go into the Square.

Archives Reference

CH 343/45a item 2. Inwards letters Christchurch City Council

Excerpt from a report with accompanying sketch plan, from the Railway Engineer to the Provincial Secretary for Public Works, reporting on progress with the lines and stations.

Archives Reference

CH 287 CP218 ICPW, item 257/1868 257(1)

The trustees of the Riccarton Estate write to the provincial Secretary for Public Works in April 1870 regarding the route for the Northern Railway, which passes through their land

Archives Reference

CH 287 CP265 ICPW item 2047/1875

Kilmore Street resident, Richard Taylor, writes to the Provincial Secretary in 1858 informing him that they have already begun forming the streets in the area, and seeking help to complete the task.

Archives Reference

CH 287 CP16 ICPS, item 813/1858

Residents north of Hagley Park petition the Provincial Government in 1854 for a new bridge over their part of the Avon.

Archives Reference

CH 287 CP587c 9. Provincial Council Papers, 1854

Report from Works Committee on the site for the proposed Cashel Street bridge, 1872.

Archives Reference

CH 343/49a item 104. Committee Reports, Christchurch City Council


The various authorities governing Christchurch from its first settlement in 1850 until 1880 spent a good deal of time considering how to facilitate proper communications within the boundaries of the city, and reaching out to its provincial hinterland, including West Canterbury, and to the outside world.

Even within the boundaries of the city (the Town Belts - now the four avenues) there was a desperate need to form roads across the swamp and bridge rivers and creeks. Settlers petitioned the provincial and municipal authorities for help, but were also expected to take matters into their own hands to improve the situation. Arterial roads and the most heavily used streets were given priority by the Provincial Government and later the City Council.

The vexed question of how the city should best be linked to its only port in Lyttelton occupied a large amount of time and newspaper column space. Eventually the Provincial Government drove a tunnel through the Port Hills and established a rail link, first between the port and Christchurch and then between Christchurch and settlements to the north and south - a magnificent achievement for such a small settlement.

In 1851, Christchurch (and the Canterbury Settlement as a whole) was isolated in a way hard to appreciate today. Official correspondence could take two months to reach the capital in Auckland and return; correspondence with Great Britain could take 6 months to a year. Although steam ships and the railway helped reduce these times and defeat the tyranny of distance, it was the telegraph that brought Government and citizens into instantaneous communication with other parts of the colony, and by the end of this period, the Australian colonies and Great Britain.