Gloucester Street Bridge

Gloucester Street Crossing The Avon River, Christchurch

  • Gloucester Street Bridge.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/02/2002.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/02/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1831 Date Entered 2nd April 2004


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the bridge and the land the bridge sits on.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

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


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 suspension footbridge was erected at the Gloucester St crossing of the Avon in 1862. Gothic in style to match the adjacent Provincial Government Buildings, the bridge may also have been designed by B.W. Mountfort. In 1886-7 it was replaced with a new iron road bridge at a cost of £1, 888. This bridge was designed by City Surveyor Charles Walkden, and built by William Stocks. Walkden gave the City Council two options for the railing pattern; that selected was identical to the Victoria St Bridge. The ironwork was fabricated by Scott Bros. In 1936 the City Council decided to widen the bridge 14 ft. on the south side, making it level with the building line on that side of the street. The work was carried out in 1937, with the original Mt Somers stone wing walls and piers being replaced in concrete.

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.

William Stocks (1837-94) was born in Huddersfield, England, coming to the Otago goldfields in 1858. He became a building contractor in Dunedin, and continued in this work after moving to Christchurch in 1878. He was responsible for many important public buildings and works in Canterbury, including the Waimakariri Gorge Bridge, the Hurunui Bridge, and a number of railway lines.

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 Gloucester St Bridge has aesthetic significance in the graceful form of the bridge arch, and the neo-gothic ornamentation of its balustrading. These add to the attractive riverside environs of the Avon as it winds through the central city, and complement the adjacent neo-gothic Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings. This was acknowledged in the 1936 reconstruction, when the Victorian decorative elements were integrated into the rebuilt structure.

The bridge is architecturally significant for the manner in which it coheres with and contributes to both the pattern established for central city bridges, and 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;

(e) is held in high esteem by the public of Christchurch, which ensured that its significant decorative elements survived the 1936 reconstruction;

(g) is an aesthetically pleasing but 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.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Walkden, Charles

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Stocks, W.B

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Scott Bros.

Scott Bros. Ltd, Christchurch

This firm was owned by brothers John Lee (1844-1913) and George (1851-1930) Scott who both immigrated to New Zealand in 1870 from Derby, England, their hometown where they underwent their engineering training. They set up a large foundry and workshop in Christchurch in 1876 and the business manufactured farming machinery, locomotives, and other items such as the street lamps in central Christchurch. Aside from their work manufacturing steelwork for, or constructing, several prominent railway and combined bridges, the company's staple business was manufacturing Atlas ranges. Both brothers were prominent Christchurch citizens with John Lee sitting on the board of, and occasionally lecturing at, Canterbury College, and George being a member of the Christchurch City Council.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

Single span cast iron bridge with cast iron railings, and concrete abutments and deck.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1886 -

1936 -
Widened, new abutments.

Construction Details

Concrete 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


New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

NZHPT Field Record Form

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.