Park Bridge

Armagh Street Crossing Of The Avon River To North Hagley Park, Hagley Park, Christchurch

  • Park Bridge.
    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 Able to Visit
List Number 1834 Date Entered 25th June 2004

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Registration includes: the bridge and Mickle Gates on its site.

City/District Council

Christchurch City

Region

Canterbury Region

Legal description

There is no legal description or certificate of title for this structure.

Location description

Crosses the Avon River from Park Terrace into Hagley Park. Registration Includes: The bridge and Mickle Gates on its site.

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.

The first bridge at the Armagh St crossing of the Avon River into Hagley Park was a two span timber structure erected in 1859-60. The popularity of Hagley Park and possibly the idea of a carriage drive to Riccarton saw the inclusion of this crossing in the city council's extensive bridge building programme of the early 1880s. The selected design was similar to that of the other Armagh St Bridge, which was designed by City Surveyor Charles Walkden. The 40 ft long and 41 ft wide bridge was commenced in mid 1885, and opened to the public by the mayor C. P. Hulbert on 26 November of that year, at a cost of £1754.

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.

About 1935 a set of iron gates were erected at the western approach to the bridge. These were donated by Mrs Abigail Mickle to commemorate her late husband, Dr Adam Frederick John Mickle M. D. (1847-1935). Yorkshire born, Adam Mickle was educated at the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Owing to ill health he embarked on a sea voyage, arriving in Christchurch in 1880. After nine months as house surgeon at Christchurch Hospital he married the matron, and commenced private practice. In 1896 Mickle was elected to the Christchurch City Council for the North East Ward, but resigned the following year. He retired in 1921, although undertaking some medical work in the early 1930s amongst the unemployed. The choice of a gate to commemorate Dr Mickle is particularly apposite, as Mickle Gate is a prominent street in the city of York.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

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 (Park) Bridge has aesthetic significance both with the graceful form of its arch and the neo-gothic form of its balustrade, which add to the attractive riverside environs of the Avon as it winds through the central city.

The bridge is also architecturally significant for the manner in which it coheres with the pattern established for central city bridges and complements 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 practical design enhanced by fine ornamentation;

(k) is an integral part of the collection of historic bridges in the central city, and of the neo-gothic precinct along Rolleston Avenue. More broadly, it is a significant 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

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

A single span brick arched bridge with stone piers, a stucco façade, and a cast iron balustrade. A set of wrought iron gates with cast iron posts is attached at the western approach.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1885 -

Addition
1935 -
Addition of Mickle Gates.

Construction Details

Brick, cast iron, stucco, Mt Somers stone.

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.92-94

New Zealand Medical Journal

New Zealand Medical Journal

'Obituary: Adam Frederick John Mickle', 34 (1935) pp. 189-190.

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.