Armagh Street Bridge

Armagh Street, Eastern Crossing The Avon River, Christchurch

  • Armagh Street Bridge.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/02/2002.
  • Armagh Street Bridge. Iron balustrading and street lamps.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: P Wilson. Date: 1/02/2004.
  • Armagh Street Bridge. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shelley Morris - Madam48. Taken By: Shelley Morris - Madam48. Date: 26/07/2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 1830 Date Entered 2nd April 2004

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the bridge and land the bridge sits on.

City/District Council

Christchurch City

Region

Canterbury Region

Legal description

There is no legal description or Certificate of Title for the Avon River and its banks.

Summaryopen/close

The Canterbury Association survey of Christchurch in 1850 laid out the nascent town in a grid, bisected only by diagonals providing access to the port of Lyttelton and the northern hinterland. Disrupting the regularity of this street pattern however were the sinuous curves of the Avon River. These proved a serious impediment to travel within the city, and necessitated the prompt construction of a series of bridges. Initially simple structures, by the 1880s the majority of these inner city bridges had been replaced in permanent materials. With their fine cast iron railings, they contribute much to the townscape and character of Christchurch.

A timber road bridge was erected around 1873 to cross the Avon adjacent to the Provincial Government Buildings on Armagh St. In February 1883 the City Surveyor Charles Walkden reported serious decay of the fabric, and was instructed to prepare plans for a new bridge. The tender of Grieg and Hunter for £1, 390 (exclusive of cement, approach roads and paths) was accepted in June of that year. Six months later the bridge was complete. It opened to the public on December 11, 1883.

William Grieg (1836-1911) was born in Rothesay in Scotland. Arriving in Christchurch in 1860, he worked on the Lyttelton Railway Tunnel before taking the contract for the Bank of Australasia. After working as a builder for eight years, Grieg farmed at Ashley for a period. He returned to Christchurch in 1876 and went into partnership with John Hunter. The buildings they erected together included the Boys and Girls High Schools, Supreme Court, part of Sunnyside Asylum, and Ballantynes. Grieg retired in 1893, but returned to building in 1904 in partnership with his sons.

Surveyor and engineer Charles Walkden (1824-1908) had worked in Austria and Denmark for a number of years before arriving in Christchurch in 1871. In 1874 he was appointed City Surveyor to the City Council, a position he held for 22 years. During this time, Walkden was responsible for building or rebuilding many of the bridges in central Christchurch. He retired in 1896 on an allowance of £375 p.a.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The construction of the bridge has historical significance as an indication of the desire of the Victorian citizens of the city to use the Avon's bridges to ornament Christchurch whilst also providing evidence of permanency and progress.

The Armagh St Bridge has aesthetic significance in the graceful form of the bridge arch and the neo-gothic ornamentation of its balustrading, which add to the attractive riverside environs of the Avon as it winds through the central city. It has architectural significant for the manner in which it coheres with the pattern established for central city bridges, and with the neo-gothic idiom broadly characteristic of public architecture in Christchurch.

(a) reflects the economic and social importance of the establishment of an effective transport network in the fledgling city;

(g) is an aesthetically pleasing but effective, practical design enhanced by fine ornamentation;

(k) is an integral part of the collection of historic bridges in the central city, and a contributor to the neo-gothic tone of central Christchurch.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Walkden, Charles

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Greig & Hunter

Responsible for the construction of John Campbell's Sunnyside Hospital Administration Building (Former).

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

A single-span brick arch bridge with cast iron railings and a stone façade and piers.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1883 -

Construction Details

Brick, Mt Somers stone, and cast iron.

Completion Date

7th September 2004

Report Written By

Pam Wilson

Information Sources

Ince, 1998

John A. Ince, A City of Bridges. A History of Bridges over the Avon and Heathcote Rivers in Christchurch, Christchurch, 1998

pp.55-58

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region Office.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.