Ballantynes' on Fire: Presented as evidence to Royal Commission
CH297, Box 4, Exhibit 1, No 8
Ballantynes' gutted: Presented as evidence to Royal Commission
CH297, Box 4, Exhibit 8, Block 1-4
Ballantynes' Fire before shot: Presented as evidence to Royal Commission
CH297, Box 4
Ballantynes' Fire aftermath: Presented as evidence to Royal Commission
CH297, Box 4
The Ballantynes Department Store has been a Christchurch shopping institution for generations. Even in today's world of malls and eBay, it retains its reputation and prestige as the quality store of the city. For this reason, the Ballantynes fire on 18 November 1947, in which 41 people died, was all the more shocking. Watched by thousands of horrified onlookers, the fire was one of biggest disasters the city of Christchurch has experienced. As can be seen from the images displayed here, the damage caused to a block of the central city was massive. Because of the extent of the disaster, a Royal Commission was established to look into the causes of the fire and the emergency services' response. It failed to reach a definite conclusion as to what started the conflagration, but made a series of recommendations to try and prevent a repeat of the disaster. Many of these recommendations dictate service levels and response protocols of the Fire Service to the present day.
Archives New Zealand Christchurch Regional Office holds all the files of the Royal Commission, including 13 volumes of evidence and various reports relating to building services. This accession is unique to this office, since all other Royal Commission records are held in Wellington.