Lyttelton Township Historic Area

Lyttelton

  • View of Lyttelton Township Historic Area from Timeball Station.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Liza Rossie. Date: 1/06/2005.
  • Lyttelton Township Historic Area. Extent of Registration map.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Date: 1/08/2009.
  • Lyttelton Township Historic Area. Image courtesy of vallance.photography@xtra.co.nz.
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance. Date: 30/09/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7784 Date Entered 13th August 2009

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes almost all of the township of Lyttelton (appellations are compiled as a bound copy in a Legal Descriptions folder, file 32003-137 Southern Regional Office, NZHPT) and include the following 39 streetscapes: Brenchley Road, Bridle Path, Brittan Terrace, Canterbury Street, Coleridge Terrace, College Road, Cornwall Road, Cressy Terrace, Cunningham Terrace, Days Road, Donald Street, Dudley Road, Dublin Street, Exeter Street, Flimwell Lane, Gladstone Quay, Godley Quay, Hawkhurst Road, Jacksons Road, Joyce Street, Keebles Lane, London Street, Norwich Quay, Oxford Street, Randolph Terrace, Reserve Terrace, Ripon Street, St Davids Street, Seaview Terrace, Selwyn Road and Lane and Parade, Simeon Quay, Somes Road, Sumner Road, Ticehurst Road and Terrace, Upham Terrace, Voelas Road, Webb Lane, Winchester Street, and the underground storm water brick barrel drain system. Streetscapes are defined as the combined composition of elements in a road or street, and may include features such as walls, buildings, street furniture, open spaces, footpaths and steps. Elements of the streetscapes that contribute to the historic area are described in Volume 2. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information). The port has not been assessed for registration. [Many of the buildings in the Lyttelton Township Historic Area were damaged in the Canterbury Earthquakes, including the Timeball Station and three churches on Winchester Street. Nevertheless, most of the key elements of the Lyttelton Township Historic Area remain.]

City/District Council

Christchurch City

Region

Canterbury Region

Legal description

The legal descriptions for properties included within the extent of the Lyttelton Township Historic Area have been compiled by the NZHPT based on rates information supplied by the Christchurch City Council (NZHPT Southern Region file 32003-137).

Summaryopen/close

The Lyttelton Township Historic Area and its setting is an excellent surviving example of a planned colonial settlement dating from 1849. The plan, which retains high integrity, reflects both mid 19th century colonial planning models and the realities of the requirements of building and settling in the dramatic volcanic landscape with its steep topography. The idea of Lyttelton port and township was conceived by Edward Gibbon Wakefield and John Robert Godley, who formed the Canterbury Association as part of their planned programme of systematic colonisation. The planned settlement of Lyttelton set itself apart from earlier Wakefield settlements in New Zealand (Wellington, Wanganui, New Plymouth and Nelson). Backed by influential English peers, members of the British Parliament and clergy, the Canterbury Association had the ambitious aim of gaining high land sale prices in order to attract a high class of settlers and fund the foundations of a specifically Church of England settlement. With separate port town (Lyttelton), capital town (Christchurch), and outlying market towns, the Association's notion of a relatively decentralised village society rather than concentrated cities or urban areas reflects a deliberate move away from industrialised cities of Europe. The Canterbury Association Chairman was George William Lyttelton, the fourth Baron Lyttelton, after whom the Lyttelton township and port is named.

Lyttelton Township Historic Area is the town associated with Canterbury's main port. Sited on the remains of an extinct volcano, the original town grid layout remains clearly legible. The historic area includes numerous steep streets, paths and steps, residential buildings closely strung along the hillside, as well as commercial and institutional buildings, and a predominance of red volcanic stone walling. Beneath part of the western side of the township is a railway tunnel which, when completed in 1867, was the first in the world to cut through the rim of an extinct volcano. It enabled exponential growth of the port and region.

Unlike the port area, which has grown many times its original size, the Lyttelton Township Historic Area has remained relatively undeveloped. It retains a small scale human dimension as an open township where the properties are easy to see and have a high degree of interconnectivity. The high proportion of 19th century buildings throughout the town sit alongside later buildings so that the architectural development of the town can be clearly seen. Lyttelton's buildings are like a reference book of architectural styles. Although generally not grand in scale or design, these include physical traits and features commonly associated with identifiable building types and architectural periods (Colonial 'But-and-Ben' and 'Saltbox' style, Gothic Revival, neo-Georgian, Italian Renaissance, Regency, Spindle Style, Victorian Villa style, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, and Bungalow) articulated in a colonial vernacular mostly using locally available materials. The Lyttelton basin's almost fish-bowl like topography means that the spatial pattern of these representative house styles is not obscured by later development or infill. The streetscapes have variety and in many streets it is possible to traverse several decades of architectural developments in short 100m sections. The makeup of commercial buildings and nooks and crannies in the main street is a result of rebuilding since a devastating fire of 1870 and of change in ownership and use over time. A handful of larger scale buildings built in the town in the 20th century reflect expansion of businesses associated with the port and of services typical of New Zealand towns and cities at the time (post office, banks, and cinema). Until the road tunnel was cut through the Port Hills in the early 1960s, the topography meant that Lyttelton was far more isolated and self-sufficient and this sense of the place being quite distinct from Christchurch remains.

Lyttelton encapsulates much of New Zealand's early pioneer, social and economic history. It is easy to imagine what life was like there in the 19th century and early 20th century. The Lyttelton Township Historic Area has aesthetic, architectural, historical, social and archaeological significance. The visual links within the town, the variety of buildings including the numerous 19th century timber cottages, the ever-changing port activity, the crater rim and harbour are a significant aesthetic element of the Historic Area. The town plan is significant as a classic example of new urbanism: a durable, small scale, somewhat diverse, pedestrian-friendly town with strong elements of social cohesion, which worked both historically and continues to work well today.

Lyttelton's places interconnect and all tell stories. The predominance of workers dwellings inform us about social demographics and provide a strong social link between the history of the township and the port. The commercial buildings of the central business district tell us about the great fire of 24 October 1870, New Zealand's worst urban fire to this date, and of the technologies subsequently employed in preventing such disasters. The remains of the very large gaol and associated gaol buildings, located right in the township, the police station, and the infrastructure completed using prison labour (including much of the red stone walling) tell us about the presence of law and order in the township. The distribution of cemeteries and churches tell of the early presence of various religious groups despite the town originally being planned as a Church of England settlement. The relatively high numbers of hotels and lodges for the size of the town, together with places like a Sailors' Home and Seamen's Institute, reflect how the public domain of Lyttelton's past is male-dominated, and these places tell the stories of social activities of local men and visiting seamen (and from the early 20th century, soldiers and explorers). The schools reflect New Zealand's national move to set up equal opportunity, though the location of the Lyttelton Borough School immediately adjacent to the gaol was purely a result of availability of land within the geographical constraints of the town. The extensive water supply, drainage and sewerage systems developed over time tell the story of improving health and hygiene standards. Archaeological remains associated with places no longer standing (such as the immigration barracks, gaol, hospital, cottages and commercial and industrial buildings) as well as surviving structures that were built prior to 1900 (including the Victorian brick barrel storm water complex underground) contribute to the archaeological significance of the Lyttelton Township Historic Area.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Lyttelton Township Historic Area has historical significance. It is a coherent and well preserved 19th century township that encapsulates much of New Zealand's early pioneer social and economic history. The township served the port that was critically important in the evolution of Christchurch and Canterbury generally.

The town, which dates from 1849, is historically linked to planned settlement ideals of the Church of England's Canterbury Association. The Canterbury Association was formed in England in 1848 with a rather revolutionary idea that land in New Zealand would be purchased, surveyed and sold to purchasers in Britain at a relatively high cost in order to fund the foundations of a Church of England settlement. While based on the Wakefield scheme of systematic colonisation already implemented in New Zealand (Wellington, Wanganui, New Plymouth and Nelson), the Canterbury Association had particularly high ideals and targeted wealthy purchasers in order to develop its own kind of settlement. The scheme, as conceived in London, was based on a rural work force supporting a gentry, perhaps even an aristocracy.

The actual development of the town reflects the realities of settlement and the varied nature of the early settlers. The streets were named after those inextricably linked to the social history of the early town. The grid pattern of the township, with its clear boundaries, reflects the wave of planned colonial settlements and is comparable to places such as Savannah in Georgia (USA), Adelaide in South Australia, numerous New England towns and Christchurch in New Zealand. Lyttelton stands out for the legibility and intactness of its early grid pattern and densely packed quarter acre sections, being half the size of sections in other settlements including Christchurch.

The establishment of Lyttelton by the Canterbury Association was crucial to the success of populating Canterbury. For the first seven years of existence as a colonial town, Lyttelton was the dominant settlement of the region until, due to Lyttelton's geographical constraints, Christchurch then outgrew it. Although many of the original (often wealthier) settlers arriving from the early 1850s shifted through to Christchurch, the links between the two towns were very much intertwined. Christchurch depended on Lyttelton as the initial port of call for all imports and new immigrants for its successful establishment and continued development. In 1862 the first telegraph line from Lyttelton to Christchurch was completed and from July of that year this line carried New Zealand's first regular telegraph service.

The year 1867 saw the completion of the rail tunnel connecting Lyttelton and Christchurch. A massive engineering project, it was the first in the world to be driven through the rim of an extinct volcano. The rail project drew attention to Lyttelton both nationally and internationally and it resulted in further development, and some redevelopment, of the town.

The commercial centre of Lyttelton suffered a huge fire on 24 October 1870, New Zealand's worst urban fire to this date, and needed to be rebuilt. The subsequent technologies employed not only in the commercial district but considered for residential areas were introduced in an attempt to prevent similar disasters. Although it did not produce a major change the building code, as some new places were built better than others, it did change architects' and engineers' thinking when designing new buildings (in particular with respect to building materials used). The town's water supply system, although delayed, was a direct outcome of lack of water to douse the 1870 fire. The eventual development of a subterranean brick barrel complex for combined storm water and sewage reticulation, which is still in use, is a good example of a system used throughout the world.

By the 1870s Lyttelton had become crucial to Canterbury agriculture as an export port and link between the other coastal settlements, the North Island, Australia and England. It grew to be a thriving port, the predominant one of the South Island. Lyttelton's tight-knit community served the functions of the port for the next 100 years. The residential and commercial area of Lyttelton is testament to the interconnectivity between town and port. Lyttelton town's development has been inextricably linked to the port, and it has been a place of significant arrivals and departures. First were the early settlers and the 'First Four Ships', the importance of which remains ingrained in the minds of Cantabrians. The arrival of subsequent immigrants, the departures and return of Antarctic explorers, soldiers and seamen and inter-island travellers add to the historical significance of the Lyttelton Township Historic Area. The Antarctic expeditions were particularly significant in bringing Lyttelton and New Zealand more generally to the attention of the world. The fate of those leaving Lyttelton's shores remained close to the heart of those in the township, and to this day Lyttelton continues its close association with Antarctic shipping.

Considerable change has occurred at the port in the 20th century, especially in the latter half. Physical changes to the town were far less conspicuous, though changes to port operations and the opening of the road tunnel in 1964 resulted in social changes within the township. Prior to the opening of the road tunnel, the town was self-supporting. After the road tunnel was built, a number of shops, businesses, engineering firms and hotels that had catered to seamen lost custom and some closed. In 1982 the Lyttelton Borough Council followed Christchurch and Devonport in what would be a series of New Zealand towns, cities and boroughs that would declare themselves 'nuclear free' and which led to the eventual ban on nuclear ships entering New Zealand ports that remains in place to this day.

Until its amalgamation with Christchurch City Council in 2006, Lyttelton was independent and the centre of local government for the Banks Peninsula district for over 140 years.

Aesthetic Significance or Value:

The Lyttelton Township Historic Area has aesthetic significance. Of note are the visual links within the town and to the ever-changing port activity and harbour and to the crater rim. The simple designs and condensed groupings of buildings, extensive red stone walling, and the unaltered grid layout of the streets within the steep topography of the area provides a strong visual quality to the Historic Area. Some streetscape views are intense. Of particular note are the views down Oxford, Canterbury and Dublin Streets where the steep street vistas create a dramatic foreshortening effect when looking past the commercial area down to the port, sea and open sky.

While there is variety in architectural style and form, there is generally unity of scale and materials in much of the housing. The houses strung along the hillsides follow the contours of the land, providing pleasing stimulation to the eye. Whereas a number of other colonial New Zealand towns also retain representative house styles, Lyttelton's geographical openness means that the spatial pattern of such house styles is not obscured by later development or infill. In this sense, there is a high degree of interconnectivity. The subtle interaction between architectural styles, the compact clustering of buildings perched on the steep slopes, the nooks and crannies, walls, steps and corridors all contribute to the aesthetic significance of the area.

The highest concentration of historic buildings and features is in the heart of the town, from the Ripon Street cemetery south. Beyond that layout there is a gradual transition to a more suburban form, with a more scattered and smaller collection of historic buildings and features at the outer margins that now sit amongst later mixed housing stock.

Above the township, Lyttelton is overwhelmed by natural features. The sense of the volcano is strong. The extensive bluffs of ancient lava flows and dikes create a skyline that clearly reflects its underlying volcanic nature. Historically, the township graduated to a rural farming area below the rim, but in recent times the differentiation between town and rural boundary has become even more pronounced, as much of the farmland is replaced by regenerating bush.

Archaeological Significance or Value:

The archaeology in the Lyttelton Township Historic Area has significance due to its breadth of chronology, especially relating to the colonial activity of the township and its intimate relationship with the port and subsequent important phases of development including that relating to the operations of the commercial district prior to and after the 1870 fire. The variety of archaeological features of the place as a whole make Lyttelton Township Historic Area of particular value. Taking account of the inter-connecting archaeological components has a high potential to give a more complete picture of the layers of history of the township. The state of preservation of some of the archaeological material, including the brick storm water barrels, walls, some wells, kerb and channelling, archaeological ruins, excavated midden material, and the likely preservation of other below ground material (including some of the early waterfront features at Norwich Quay beneath the reclaimed land) is significant. One of the reasons why Lyttelton appears to have archaeological material lying below the ground in a fairly original state is because of the steep nature of sections, whereby residents could tip things over a bank rather than have to break them up for burial.

While there may be archaeological remains relating to Maori presence prior to the establishment of the town, most known archaeology directly relates to the development of Lyttelton, its community and infrastructure. Buildings, footpaths and kerbing, roads, lanes and steps, walls, wells and reservoirs, extensive storm water barrel system under the whole town, other infrastructure, artefacts and midden provide important information about social and technological developments. Archaeological remains associated with places no longer standing (such as the immigration barracks, gaol, hospital, cottages and commercial and industrial buildings) as well as surviving structures and features can contribute to our understanding of what life was like for the people who lived in Lyttelton, and the differences and similarities between families and groups of people within the town.

The archaeology of Lyttelton has high potential to add to our understanding of the development of trading and the growth of critical entrepôts in New Zealand. Lyttelton's role as a trading nexus means that there is potential for exploring material coming into the township that would not necessarily be found in other parts of the country and is only left in archaeological deposits. Additionally, there is the potential for post-1900 archaeological material associated with Antarctic explorations, as Lyttelton township had the highest population of men involved in the Antarctic explorations than of anywhere in the world.

Although Lyttelton was a planned Church of England settlement, there is in fact a degree of cultural diversity within the township and archaeology has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the extent of that diversity. For example, the cemeteries within the township have grave markers and other funerary monuments that, through analysis, could provide information about issues as diverse as religious observance, funerary practice, ethnic and other origins, trade and technology, public health and attitudes to commemoration and death.

Architectural Significance or Value:

The Lyttelton Township Historic Area has architectural significance. Its wealth of historic buildings and features reflect the architectural styles, needs and fashions of particular periods and also availability and cost of timber, stone and clay. Mostly modest buildings in scale and design, they also represent the economic and social history of the town's development.

The clusters of buildings and structures within the historic area are a powerful reminder of the town's foundation years. Many reflect the style, construction and form of the colonial period with their basic design, one and two storey height, often with steep roof pitches, and timber construction. Later development is reflected in building styles throughout the town and also in stratification as additional roads were built as terraces higher up the hills. Generally speaking, the higher the terrace the newer the housing, with the exception of farms or farm workers cottages built on the original rural sections. Oxford Street, for example, has cottages from the 1860s and 1870s; St Davids Street has housing from the 1860s to 1880s, Reserve Terrace has housing from 1880s to 1900s and Randolph Terrace has buildings from the 1900s to the 1920s. Lyttelton even has a small State Housing 'circle' on Upham Terrace, which dates from the mid 20th century.

Lyttelton's buildings are like a reference book of architectural styles. The lower part of the town has a range of different commercial building styles, while most of the town is made up of a variety of domestic building styles. Although not grand in scale or design, these include physical traits and features commonly associated with identifiable buildings types and architectural periods (Colonial 'But-and-Ben' and 'Saltbox' styles, Gothic Revival, neo-Georgian, Italian Renaissance, Regency, Spindle Style, Victorian Villa style, Arts and Crafts, Bungalow) articulated in a colonial vernacular mostly using locally available materials.

The Lyttelton basin's almost fish-bowl like topography means that the spatial pattern of its representative house styles is not obscured by later development or infill. The streetscapes have variety and in many streets it is possible to traverse several decades of architectural developments in short 100 metre sections. Even where there are a number of historic buildings of a similar date together, they vary in appearance (an exception is Cornwall Road where there are a number of workers cottages that are very similar).

Large scale structures from the 19th century, although few, were notable public and commercial buildings mostly built in the colonial neo-Gothic vernacular. Many have since been demolished, including the huge stone gaol on Oxford Street, the one- and two-storeyed timber immigration barracks complex between Oxford and St David Streets and the timber hospital/orphanage on Brittan Terrace. Several large commercial buildings from the 19th century remain in the lower, commercial/maritime part of the town, such as the former post office on Norwich Quay, former library and Borough Council Chambers on Oxford Street and up on the east ridge of the hill is the castle-like crennellated Timeball Station. A handful of larger scale buildings built in the town in the 20th century reflect expansion of businesses associated with the port and of services typical of New Zealand towns and cities at the time (cinema, post office, banks, and eventually the occasional high rise office block). Still today, the scale of the town and small section sizes mean that there are relatively few imposing buildings.

Social Significance or Value:

The core grid pattern of Lyttelton follows 19th century urbanist planning principles comparable with other good examples of durable design that embodies heritage values (New England, Georgia, Italian City States etc). As a pedestrian-scale township, with its tight interconnected set of roads and pathways, Lyttelton is a near perfect example of 'new urbanist' design. Significant public areas include the site of the old gaol and the cemeteries. Although there are no large parks compared, for example, to Hagley Park in Christchurch, this is compensated for by the fact that almost everyone has a view and the town is walkable.

Lyttelton presents itself as a community because it can be seen all at once. It has a small scale human dimension. Those who live in Lyttelton see it like a community estate, since just about everyone has a view of the town and its setting. This collective view means that it is relatively easy to see what is going on around. Houses and gardens are not hidden and due to the often small size of sections and steep topography (and period of construction in a pre-car era), off-street parking is common. As both houses and vehicles are often easily seen, people's movements and property are not hidden, creating a relative transparency of status and lifestyle.

The Lyttelton Township Historic Area combines places that tell significant social stories. The predominance of workers dwellings inform us about social demographics. The houses on Cornwall Road, for example, tell a story about the Cornish miners involved in infrastructure development in Lyttelton, including mining work associated with the rail tunnel. Throughout Lyttelton are ordinary houses that are testament to port workers, railway workers and fishermen, the most common occupations in Lyttelton's past. While not obviously maritime in appearance, these numerous 'working class' homes directly link the history of the township with the port including the strong unionist leanings of much of the community.

The commercial buildings of the central business district and the later construction of a large Fire Brigade building in the commercial district tell us about the effect the great fire of 24 October 1870 had on the community and businesses. Some subsequent rebuilding in the 20th century is a result of later fires, demonstrating that fire continues to be a threat in the community. As with many small towns in New Zealand, Lyttelton continues to have a volunteer fire brigade.

The remains of the gaol and associated gaol buildings, located right in the township, and the infrastructure completed using prison labour (including much of the red stone walling), and the police station and associated houses, tell us about the presence of law and order in the township.

The distribution of cemeteries separated by religious denomination and the range of churches tell of the early presence of various religious groups despite the town originally being planned as a Church of England settlement.

The relatively high numbers of hotels and lodges for the size of the town, and places like the Sailors Home and Returned Services Association reflect how the public domain of Lyttelton's past is male-dominated. These places tell the stories of social activities of local men and visiting seamen (and from the early 20th century, soldiers and explorers). The hotels in particular were a hotbed for unionism throughout the 20th century.

The domain of women in the 19th century was predominantly in the role as homemaker and colonial 'helpmeet', with the church being part of the shared public domain. Nevertheless, boundaries for acceptability of preoccupation for women were extended and many 19th century Lyttelton women lived practical energetic lives not always in accordance with ideals about women's proper place. A number of self-proclaimed 'respectable' women were in employment or ran businesses. Although less well recorded, and like ports worldwide, prostitution has been an occupation for some women in Lyttelton ever since the township's inception.

The schools reflect New Zealand's national move to set up equal opportunity, though the location of the Lyttelton Borough School immediately adjacent to the gaol (an unusual close connection for two socially distinct groups within the town) was purely a result of availability of land within the geographical constraints of the town.

The extensive water supply, drainage and sewerage systems developed over time tell the story of how the domestic toil of fetching and carrying water up Lyttelton's steep streets improved over time, and of improving health and hygiene standards in the town generally.

Changes in property ownership and use of buildings in the commercial district, especially in the main street (London Street) reflect Lyttelton's history of people coming and going, trying out different ventures.

The concept of property location by contour within Lyttelton may be seen to reflect social concepts according to perceived moral value of activities. For example, the lower part of town has properties associated with shipping and commerce, while over time the churches moved to higher locations within Lyttelton. For example, churches for three religious denominations are within approximately 250 metres of one another on Winchester Street.

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Historical Narrative

Pre-European Maori History:

One of the earliest groups of indigenous inhabitants of the Lyttelton Harbour area were the Waitaha people, descendants of the renowned Captain of the Takitimu canoe Tamatea-Pokai-Whenua who arrived in the area from Poverty Bay in the North Island during the mid 14th century and named it Whangaraupo or Whakaraupo ('harbour of raupo').

They were succeeded by Ngati Mamoe who named the area now known as Lyttelton Ohinehou. Ohinehou was the name of an ancient Ngati Mamoe pa or village which was probably situated on the western side of Lyttelton situated near to the present day rail tunnel mouth.

Ngai Tahu in turn succeeded Ngati Mamoe in the 18th century and settled at nearby Rapaki. By the time early European settlers explored the area that was to become Lyttelton, it appears there was no longer a village or pa at Ohinehou.

1830s to 1848:

So far as is known, the first European to actually visit the district was Captain Chase in the Pegasus in 1809. In 1830 Captain Morrell anchored here in the Antarctic, the first whaling ship to have entered the inlet, and called it Cooks Harbour although Captain Cook never actually sailed into the harbour. The harbour then became known as Port Cooper, named after a Sydney merchant by flax trader Captain Wiseman in 1837. Another flax-trading vessel Vittoria came into the harbour in 1830 and 1831, possibly trading at this time. By the mid 1830s whaling was well established around the southern shores between the heads and Purau Bay (just over three kilometres south-east of Lyttelton). Whaling visits continued, but on a much reduced basis, up until about 1840, and from the early 1840s a period of 'squatting' began, which prefigured formal settlement.

On 2 August 1838 Frenchman Captain Langlois of the Cachalot entered into some sort of land purchase negotiations with local Maori just before leaving Port Cooper. There are different interpretations of exactly what this involved. It may have included the purchase of land at Port Cooper, namely Te Pohue (Camp Bay) on the southern side of the harbour, but does not appear to have included the northern side of the harbour where Lyttelton was subsequently developed.

Langlois had returned to France in May 1839 and sold his so-called Banks Peninsula land rights to a group of French businessmen who formed a company with the aim of colonising the South Island of New Zealand. However, by the time Langlois returned to Banks Peninsula in August 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi had already been signed proclaiming British sovereignty in New Zealand. Leading Ngai Tahu chiefs had signed the Treaty of Waitangi and British administration had declared that new European land purchases from Maori were invalid.

A census was undertaken in 1842. Forty of the 339 Maori recorded as living on Banks Peninsula were at Port Cooper (Whakaraupo), the traditional territory of Ngati Te Rakiwhakaputa and its sub-hapu, Ngati Wheke. Around this time Ngai Tahu were still recovering from a generation of major impacts on their lives and trade with the European visitors and settlers provided new opportunities. Local Maori from around the harbour provided essential produce to early settlers and had a market with whare in approximately the area that is now the eastern end of Norwich Quay. They then moved their market to the area that is now approximately from the corner of Norwich Quay and Dublin Street including around Sutton Reserve to the original foreshore area around the rail tunnel entrance. The locations of both these markets had been fishing villages in pre-European times.

On 10 August 1849 Walter Mantell, Commissioner of Native Lands, obtained Ngai Tahu signatures to a deed of purchase by the Crown of the Port Cooper 'block' (which was not included in a previous ‘Canterbury Block purchase' carried out in 1848 by Commissioner Henry Kemp, and was separate from other Peninsula purchases). The Port Cooper Deed of Sale signed by Crown and Ngai Tahu representatives pertained to some 59,000 acres ‘for the extinguishment of Native Claims'. The signing took place at Okete Upoko, the peaks above the north-east ridge that starts around the site of the Timeball Station. The amount paid by the Crown was £200 and excluded from the purchase were two reserves, one at Purau and one at Rapaki (five kilometres west of Lyttelton).

In 1849 Port Cooper was renamed Port Victoria. Within a year it had been selected as a colony by the Anglican Canterbury Association chaired by Lord Lyttelton.

Setting the Scene: the Canterbury Association, early years and arrival of Canterbury Association settlers:

The idea of Lyttelton port and township was conceived in 1847 by Edward Gibbon Wakefield and John Robert Godley as part of their planned programme of systematic colonisation. In 1848 Wakefield and Godley formed the Canterbury Association with the backing of influential English peers, members of the British Parliament and clergy. The Chairman of the Canterbury Association was George William Lyttelton, the fourth Baron Lyttelton, who had been Under-Secretary for the Colonies in 1846 and after whom the Lyttelton township and port is named.

The Canterbury Association was formed in England in 1848, which was a year of revolutions in Europe. It is suggested that the concept of ‘Canterbury' was in its own way revolutionary: the idea that land in New Zealand would be purchased, surveyed and sold to purchasers in Britain at a relatively high cost in order to fund the foundations of a Church of England settlement. While based on the Wakefield scheme of systematic colonisation already implemented in New Zealand (Wellington, Wanganui, New Plymouth and Nelson), the Canterbury Association had particularly high ideals and targeted wealthy purchasers in order to develop its own kind of settlement. The scheme, as conceived in London, was based on a rural work force supporting a gentry, perhaps even an aristocracy. Initially it was determined that all land purchasers would need to be members of the Church of England, though this was no longer a requirement by January 1850 when it became clear that the pace of land sales needed to be increased.

The initial site considered for Lyttelton in 1848 was in the area of Rapaki. However, in July 1849 Walter Mantell made that site a native reserve, so the new Canterbury Association town and port was proposed instead to be slightly closer towards the heads, at Erskine Bay (also known as Cavendish Bay).

The survey of the new town of Lyttelton was completed by the end of September 1849 by Captain Joseph Thomas and Charles Torlesse. Edward Jollie made the street plan, naming the main streets after English dioceses: Canterbury, Oxford, London, Norwich, Exeter, Winchester and Ripon, with Dublin included as a token to the Irish. The grid plan, typical of numerous colonial settlements of the period (for example in South Australia and New England), was conceived in London. It is often thought that Lyttelton's town plan was conjured up without regard for the hilly and confined topography. However, Thomas and Torlesse, as experienced surveyors, in fact cleverly managed the topographical constraints and still met the Canterbury Association's requirements of having neat land parcels set out. They worked to a brief, albeit varied, provided by the Canterbury Association to have as many sections as possible for sale as the money-making requirement for the town to be built, combined with their own experience and on-the-ground knowledge of the geography of the town.

The township soon had over 200 inhabitants. About 100 of the earliest settlers at Lyttelton were in fact Maori from the North Island who had arrived, in two waves, to work for Thomas on roading contracts. There was a similar number of Europeans, described by Charles Torlesse as being ‘all the loose beachcombers and escaped lags and convicts in the colony'. There is some irony in this, since the ideals of the Canterbury Association scheme required high standards of decency yet someone had to do the ‘dirty work' to get the place ready for them.

On 30 August 1849 Lyttelton was gazetted as a port of entry, and the Cavendish Bay beach was modified. Around this time, bricks began to be made locally and work was undertaken on constructing a sea wall, roads and culverts. By the end of January 1850 a large supply of timber had arrived from Tasmania, which allowed Thomas's building programme to begin. A jetty, boathouse, store, agent's house and office, and barracks were built in anticipation of the arrival of the Canterbury Association immigrants. As time passed, timber also came from Banks Peninsula itself, especially Little Akaloa, Pigeon Bay and Okains Bay, as well as being shipped in from Nelson.

When the Canterbury Association's agent, John Robert Godley, arrived in April 1850 he noted with delight the jetty, wide road, about 25 houses, two hotels, a small customs house, four barracks, agent's office, and the Godley homestead itself. However, money was short and public works effectively stopped for the six months between April and November 1850. Nevertheless, during the same six month period, the number of dwellings had increased to 60, including several simple V-huts. More people were arriving in anticipation of catering for the Canterbury Association settlers due in the summer, and by early December the population was almost 300.

By December 1850 a rough track named Bridle Path had been completed over the hill to the Heathcote valley. Its completion was timely, as the four ships containing the Canterbury Association settlers, the Charlotte Jane, the Randolph, the Sir George Seymour and the Cressy, all arrived between 16 and 27 December 1850. These ‘First Four Ships' brought 773 colonists, temporarily bringing the population of Lyttelton to about 1,100 by New Year's Day 1851. This put pressure on the fledgling township, as there were not enough houses ready for the new arrivals, the barracks could cater for only 300 people and tents had to be erected.

Emigrants who had paid the minimum price of £150 prior to sailing from England were given a land order that corresponded to the order in which their name was drawn in a ballot of all purchasers. The £150 bought 50 rural acres and either half an acre in Christchurch or quarter of an acre in Lyttelton. The fact that some still chose the lesser acreage in Lyttelton shows the faith they had that the port town would be more prosperous than the capital town. Copies of Edward Jollie's map of Lyttelton were thoroughly scrutinised by immigrants from the moment they arrived in the settlement. Those sections in the very centre of Lyttelton town were the most sought after, though mostly as a speculative exercise since most order holders intended to reside on larger rural properties. Indeed, many of the immigrants were domiciled in Lyttelton for only six weeks before they continued over the Bridle Path to Christchurch where they set up home. After those with Lyttelton land orders had made their selections, the remaining town sections were offered for sale. The first town section sold this way appears to have been section number 45 in London Street, to John Grubb, a carpenter and boat builder, who had arrived in Lyttelton in 1849.

The Canterbury Association Land Settlement Act of 1850 had vested some 2.5 million acres of land in Canterbury in the Canterbury Association, some of which had been included in the Kemp purchase. On 7 August 1851 the Canterbury Association Amendment Act was passed, which proved to be a source of later contention as it did not provide for the protection of Ngai Tahu interests derived from unfulfilled promises of the Crown under Kemp's Purchase.

The immigrants soon began to erect structures that were more ambitious than the temporary ones already in existence. Some were of cob or sod but most of the buildings were of timber. Another 15 immigrant ships arrived at Lyttelton during 1851, bringing over 3,000 settlers as well as sheep and cattle. Some notable Canterbury architects arrived and had their early commissions in Lyttelton (for example, Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort and Samuel Charles Farr).

Despite the Canterbury Association's notions of being a Church of England Settlement, it was some time before any recognisable ecclesiastical buildings were constructed in Lyttelton. It was also evident that people of many denominations had inhabited Lyttelton from the outset. Licensed premises, on the other hand, were aplenty. Masonic Lodges and other lodges including Friendly Societies were also established. The Freemasons' Unanimity Lodge No 3 first met in Lyttelton in 1851 and other lodges were established, making up a relatively large number of lodges for a small town.

Typical of New Zealand at this time, the public realm of Lyttelton was a male-dominated one while the domain of women was predominantly in the role as homemaker and colonial ‘helpmeet', with the church being part of the shared public domain. As with other ‘frontier' societies, boundaries for acceptability of daily activities for women were extended and many 19th century Lyttelton women lived practical energetic lives not always in tune with ideals about women's proper place. Middle-class as well as working class women were engaged in a relentless round of domestic toil including, for example, fetching and carrying water up Lyttelton's steep streets. A number of self-proclaimed ‘respectable' women were in employment or ran businesses. Like ports worldwide, prostitution has been an occupation for some women in Lyttelton ever since early in the township's history.

By 1853, self-government of some form seemed assured and the Canterbury Association was dissolved. Although Christchurch had been designated the chief town of the Canterbury settlement, Lyttelton remained the more important centre until the end of the 1850s - it had the first newspaper (the Lyttelton Times), bank, the chief post office, the custom house, a gaol, the only hospital, the immigration barracks, and the offices and warehouses of Canterbury's first merchants. Churches were eventually built and lodges expanded. Cemeteries were separated by denomination (the Anglican Cemetery was laid out on Canterbury Street, while the Roman Catholic and Dissenters cemetery is on the township's western hill). As well as the hotels, tea rooms and boarding houses were built. The port area expanded and ship building facilities were constructed.

Communication with Christchurch was difficult. The Bridle Path over the Port Hills was cut for pack horses and pedestrian traffic, and alternative transport was provided by sea via the Heathcote Estuary. A road via Evans Pass and Sumner was finally completed in 1857 (after work first started in 1849), although it was unsuitable for heavy traffic. The cost and long delays in building this road, intended to be the main connecting route to the Canterbury Plains, was a source of irritation of officials and settlers alike.

In 1857 a building programme for the gaol was drawn up. Over the subsequent decades, the Gothic style Lyttelton Gaol on Oxford Street would achieve proportions that were huge by the standards of a small town.

In 1858 the name of the port was officially changed from Port Victoria to Port Lyttelton, although the two names had been interchangeable for several years.

Lyttelton Municipal Council and Lyttelton Borough Council (1860s):

By the early 1860s Christchurch became more dominant in commerce and industry. The Lyttelton Municipal Council was established in 1862 to administer certain town affairs. In 1868 full borough status was achieved, and the Lyttelton Borough Council was established.

A telegraph office carrying New Zealand's first regular telegraph service opened in Lyttelton on 1 July 1862. Other public and community facilities were improved in the 1860s. A large timber hospital, built on the west side of the town, opened in October 1863. Its buildings dominated the western part of the town for many years. It was only fully utilised for a relatively short period, as it was superseded by Christchurch's public hospital built in during the 1860s, and was converted to an orphanage by 1873. In 1867 the Colonists' Hall was built on Oxford Street, filling a need for a ‘community centre'.

Styles in domestic architecture in Lyttelton did not change dramatically from 1850 to 1870. Cottages of the less affluent were of the ‘But-and-Ben' (two-roomed cottage) or variations on the ‘Saltbox' theme (a two storeyed timber house with a long, pitched roof that slopes down to a single storeyed portion at the back). Houses of wealthier property owners tended to be larger cottages with dormer windows upstairs and verandahs on the ground floor. Narrow one and a half and two storey cottages were ideally suited to the small subdivided sections in Lyttelton. Timber remained the most commonly used construction material irrespective of income.

Lyttelton was given a major boost when a decision was made to construct a rail tunnel between Lyttelton and Christchurch. The proposal was for what would be the longest tunnel in the world at that time and the first in the world to be driven through the rim of an extinct volcano. The decision to pursue such a massive engineering project in a relatively remote and sparsely populated part of the world reflects the air of enthusiasm Britain had for rail projects at this time. The rail project drew attention to Lyttelton both nationally and internationally. Ultimately it resulted in further development, and some redevelopment, of the town as the southern portal of the 1.6 kilometre long tunnel emerged in the heart of the town. Lyttelton's rail tunnel, opened in 1867.

It is a common belief that the miners who worked on the tunnel were from Cornwall in England, brought out especially for the tunnel work. Superintendent Moorhouse had engaged a Melbourne engineering firm to carry out the tunnel work after the original contractors had withdrawn but there is no mention of shiploads of Cornish miners being brought in by that firm. Rather, it appears that the Cornish miners were originally employed elsewhere, largely for blasting and clearing work at Officers' and Naval Points, when the breakwaters were being constructed. It is likely that these miners worked on the tunnel after an initial contract for the tunnel work fell over. A list of approximately 100 of the 200 or more tunnel workers compiled in recent years does include names known to be old Celtic Cornish surnames. Whatever their engagement, the Cornish miners' immigration and employment and their surviving dwellings on the road renamed after them (Cornwall Road) is a component in Lyttelton's social history.

The rail tunnel linking Lyttelton and Christchurch was a key element in Canterbury's economic development. New arrivals passed through Lyttelton and new immigration barracks were built in Christchurch. The original Lyttelton immigration barracks site was sold in 1867 and the site was cleared. Nevertheless, Lyttelton continued to grow. By 1868 the population had grown to about 1400 and full borough status was achieved.

When the construction of the railway tunnel began, a spring with a more useful supply of water was tapped (it became known as Tunnel Spring). When the tunnel opened in 1868, a pump was installed to bring water out of the tunnel to the west end of London Street. In 1869 the Borough Council installed four inch pipes to carry the water to tanks on street corners for public use. However, the water supply system (or lack of it) proved to be woefully inadequate in a time of critical need.

1870s - The Fire and Improved Infrastructure:

A disastrous fire occurred in the central business district of Lyttelton on 24 October 1870. Although no-one was killed, six hotels and dozens of shops, stores and houses were destroyed. The lack of adequate water supply to douse the fire was a factor in its spread.

Many of the hotels and downtown trade and retail premises constructed prior to 1870 appear to have had little consideration of fire safety needs. When the fire broke out in the Queen's Hotel on the night of 24 October 1870, it spread rapidly as almost all of the buildings in the centre of town were interconnected or jammed tightly together. The fire raged along the north side of London Street, engulfing the main concentration of the town's buildings, and the west side of Canterbury Street (between London Street and Norwich Quay). The extent of the damage was so great that, although no lives were lost, the fire was regarded at the time as the worst case of property fire since European settlement in New Zealand. More than 75 buildings were destroyed, mostly businesses but in many cases the premises had been adjoined by living quarters. Shelter for those made homeless by the fire was provided in the Colonists' Hall, the hospital, gaol and other available spaces.

The fire appears to have bankrupted the Lyttelton Borough Council, though they limped on for several years, supervising the process of reconstruction in the downtown area and imposing conditions on rebuilding that were designed to avoid a repeat of the disaster. Requirements that new commercial buildings were to contain more brickwork than their predecessors were idealistic given that many owners could only afford to build simple structures. The pattern of reconstruction and rebuilding was not uniform and for a time there remained a considerable amount of ‘vacant land' as a result of the fire. New materials were used for much of the rebuilding, such as brick and stucco (and some stone) rather than timber. At the same time, local clay from brick fields began to be used on Voelas Road, Hawkhurst Road and Ripon Street for ‘firewalls' between housing. William Armson's stone New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company on Norwich Quay reflects a new phase of public building.

Despite the fire, it was still a time of prosperity and expansion in Canterbury and most of Lyttelton's main commercial area was quickly rebuilt. The passing of the Public Works Act and Immigration Act in 1870 by the general government impacted on Lyttelton both directly and indirectly. Public facilities were improved, new firms and businesses began to occupy the vacant land created by the fire. A number of building firms, ironmongeries and storage yards were established associated with civic, harbour and domestic works in the town from the 1870s.

A move to set up equal educational opportunities in New Zealand led to the Ordinance Act of 1871. As a result Lyttelton was allocated a state-funded Borough School in 1872, the bulk of its costs of construction coming from the government. The new state school was built immediately next to the gaol as it was the only available space for such a large scale development.

Only a few months after the Borough School opened on 21 January 1875, a newspaper article outlined that extension of the gaol was well underway to redress the problems of overcrowding and intermingling of prisoners. The Lyttelton Gaol grew to be one of the largest in New Zealand. Its hard labour gang built most of the town's stone retaining walls as well as the port's early breakwaters.

Among the new buildings of the 1870s were the Post Office (1876), the Lyttelton Main School (1875), the gasworks (1875), the Casualty Ward, and the Timeball Station (1876). The Timeball Station went into commission in 1876, providing a daily signal by which the vessels in port could set their chronometers. Prison labour was used for the more crude construction work. At the same time the town gas works project was being undertaken under the cliffs adjacent to the Timeball Station and the town's street lighting was converted from kerosene lamps to gas lights. The first mains were laid in 1876. A year later, in October 1877 Lyttelton finally secured a high quality water system.

Improvements to Lyttelton's ‘utilities', community facilities and commercial district in the years between 1875 and 1881 were matched by a ‘boom' in house construction and modification. By 1878 Lyttelton had expanded further to 3,476 people in 626 dwellings.

Late 1870s through to 1890s, including development of harbour and port:

Early in 1877 the Lyttelton Harbour Board was constituted and the harbour facilities were rapidly improved. From its inception through an act of parliament, the Board undertook to bring wharfage facilities into line with the berthage space created by the construction of the harbour breakwaters. Whereas at first the sea came right up against Norwich Quay, later extensive reclamations were made, particularly when the rail tunnel was being built as there was considerable spoil available.

A graving dock was built in 1879-1883, a major project in itself involving some 300 men being employed in various capacities over more than three years.

The 1880s signalled the start of the steam era in the port of Lyttelton. It was also the start of the soot era in Lyttelton, as steamer and rail traffic increased to keep up with trade demands.

Lyttelton's population was 4,127 in 1881. This was the beginning of a decade or more when great quantities of wheat, wool and frozen meat left Lyttelton's shores for distant markets. It was a period when Lyttelton was briefly New Zealand's busiest port, as Dunedin was already in decline. However, Auckland and Wellington soon overtook Lyttelton's rank and trade went to other towns. The consequence was that Lyttelton town did not gain as many public buildings of importance nor did it develop further than it might otherwise have done.

In 1880 the Police Station was built at the foot of Sumner Road and the first Harbour Board offices were built on Norwich Quay. A Sailors' Home built on Norwich Quay was seen at the time as a significant yet increasingly scarce philanthropic act at the time of its opening in 1883. A ships' chandlery was also built around this same time. The Borough Council Chambers were built on the Oxford Street/Sumner Road corner in 1887, and in the same year West Lyttelton School was built on Voelas Road to cope with rapidly increasingly school rolls.

Typical of a number of Victorian towns worldwide, including in Australia, a brick barrel complex for combined storm water and sewage reticulation was installed below the town by the late 19th century.

In 1895 an overnight ferry service from Lyttelton to Wellington heralded the beginning of a vital link in the country's transport network for the next 80 years. Two years later, in 1897, the Lyttelton Borough Council declared the majority of the narrow private roads as public streets within the township.

20th Century Lyttelton:

The Edwardian era was a time of booming trade and expansion of population in Lyttelton. It was also a period of high patriotic fervour and pride in being part of the British Empire, with troopers returning from the South African War (1899-1902) being given a large civic welcome at Lyttelton in May 1901. The Lyttelton Harbour was already recognised as being a strategically important harbour (as evidenced by the Ripapa Island fortifications of the 1880s) and further defences were constructed above the Lyttelton township, notably a World War Two Battery.

It was in the early 1900s that Lyttelton became known internationally as the departure point for three British Antarctic expeditions. These were Robert Falcon Scott's first voyage of 1901-4 in Discovery, Shackleton's Nimrod expedition of 1907-08, and Scott's final and ill-fated expedition of 1910-1912. The tragic story of Scott's death deeply affected many people in Lyttelton and Christchurch, as they had followed Britain's Antarctic exploration with great interest. Lyttelton township had the highest population of men who served on Scott and Shackleton's Antarctic explorations than anywhere else in the world. To this day Lyttelton is known as the Antarctic capital of the world and it continues its relationship with Antarctic shipping.

In 1901-2 a combined public library and fire station was built on the corner of Oxford Street and Sumner Road.

In 1913 the national watersider's strike affected Lyttelton, although in contrast to the street battles in Auckland and Wellington, there was very little violence in the town. From 1914 Lyttelton led the way nationally in seeking better pay and safer working conditions on the wharves.

During World War One it became the place of departure of troopships and of return for wounded servicemen. Lyttelton's population grew steadily during the war years, reaching a peak of 4,396 in 1915. The Harbour Light Cinema was built on London Street in 1916-17, providing cinematic entertainment for the community and its visitors. As in other towns throughout New Zealand, Returned Services Association clubrooms were built, Lyttelton's dating from 1924.

The world-wide Spanish influenza epidemic harshly impacted on Lyttelton, as a direct result of spread from arrivals at the port. The town more or less shut down by November 1918. Although few households escaped the epidemic, only 10 actual residents of the town died.

Infrastructure improvements continued in the 20th century. A drainage scheme was inaugurated in 1908, operating by water carriage out to sea in the outer harbour. The water reservoir was renewed and extended and by 1918 there were four additional reservoirs at Lyttelton. Electricity was introduced to Lyttelton from 1919. The electrification of the Christchurch-Lyttelton rail link in 1929 increased visitation from Christchurch dwellers to Lyttelton for weekend outings and it also meant some port workers could live in Christchurch rather than Lyttelton. This probably explains why Lyttelton's population dropped from 3,779 in 1921 to 3,110 two decades later.

The gaol closed in 1920 after a new prison was built at Paparua, west of Christchurch, and Lyttelton's main gaol buildings were demolished in 1922-24. The site was leased to the adjacent school as a playground.

Lyttelton had a number of notable engineering companies, some such as Anderson's engineering works with a presence in Lyttelton as early as 1887. By the 1920s there were more. Toomeys Engineering and Sinclair Melbourne and Co were among those specialising in boilermaking and blacksmithing. Boatbuilding firms and workshops specialised in ship repair.

The Lyttelton Harbour Board continued to develop the inner harbour. Large reclamations, for petroleum storage tanks in the 1920s and the Cashin Quay container berth in 1965, ensured the port's importance. A new container terminal was opened in 1977.

The Depression years of the 1930s brought widespread unemployment. However, during the 1940s Lyttelton was once again a busy place during World War Two. It farewelled troopships at the start of the war and later received home the wounded. A number of military personnel and their families came to live in Lyttelton and temporary barracks were established. This period saw the loss of several Lyttelton landmarks, notably the old Colonists' Hall (demolished 1943), the Godley's house (demolished in 1944 to create a site for the Plunket Society rooms) and the post office's clock tower (taken down in 1944).

Fire continued to be a concern through the 20th century. Most houses had fireplaces heated by coal. A series of fires throughout the 1920s, including a number of shops in London Street, were mostly associated with faulty fireplaces or chimneys. In 1942 another serious fire occurred at Rhinds' Grain Store, destroying also the Lyttelton Hotel and three shops with dwellings on Canterbury Street. These days Lyttelton continues to have a volunteer fire brigade, which operates out of a modern building on London Street after it moved from the Fire Brigade Station and Library Building of 1901-2 on the corner of London and Oxford Streets.

In 1950 the town celebrated its 100th anniversary. According to a survey of occupations undertaken at that time, Lyttelton offered employment to about 850 people (mostly men) in port activities, while another 300 residents worked at shops, trades and the service sector of hotels, tearooms, etc. An estimated 630 of Lyttelton's adult female population were housewives.

Lyttelton joined the national watersiders strike/lockout of 1951. This full scale industrial dispute between the maritime unions and the national government of the time was the longest, most costly and most widespread in New Zealand's history. Lasting 151 days, the bitter industrial dispute set man against man and family against family, but it drew people even closer together within their opposing camps. Many Lytteltonians were still dwelling on those difficult times fifty years on.

Hotels continued to be well patronised throughout the 20th century and at times were a hotbed for unionism.

In 1961 new Harbour Board administrative offices, built as Lyttelton's first high-rise in a modern style of glass and steel were opened on Norwich Quay. A new railway station officially opened in Lyttelton in October 1963. However, it had a limited lifespan, as passenger services to Christchurch were abolished in the early 1970s, a direct result of the opening of a road tunnel in 1964.

In 1955 the growing importance of the port led to statutory authority being granted for the construction of a road tunnel between Lyttelton and Christchurch (the 1951 dispute was cited as emphasising the need for direct road access to Lyttelton from Christchurch). The road tunnel opened on 27 February 1964. The road tunnel had a real impact on both the port and town of Lyttelton. More cargo came by road and people tended to travel by road. The inter-island ferry, which had been used by all types of New Zealanders for 80 years, ceased in 1976. During the 1960s and 1970s Lyttelton got its first high-rise office block, its first supermarket, swimming pool, a new bank, and a modern post office. Some of these developments were directly attributable to the influence of Norman Kirk, Lyttelton's Member of Parliament from 1957 to 1969, who became Prime Minister in 1972.

Lyttelton's population continued to decline slowly, going from 3,589 in the 1956 census to 3,461 in 1976. At least half of Lyttelton's adult males worked in Christchurch and conversely at least half of Lyttelton's watersiders lived in Christchurch. More houses were built and many older timber ones were demolished.

During the mid 20th century, nuclear material had been regularly transported through Lyttelton from Antarctica. However, in 1982 the Lyttelton Borough Council followed Christchurch and Devonport in what would be a series of New Zealand towns, cities and boroughs that would declare themselves ‘nuclear free' and which led to the eventual ban on nuclear ships entering New Zealand ports that remains in place to this day.

The Lyttelton Vintage Homes Club was formed as a community initiative in 1980 in an effort to recognise and preserve old houses of all shapes and sizes in the town.

By the end of the 20th century, Lyttelton had become a fashionable place to live. Many early cottages were restored and numerous buildings in the main commercial area were adapted to become cafes and boutiques. Rural farmland surrounding Lyttelton began to be returned to regenerating native bush, delineating the boundary between the township and the volcanic rim even more clearly than in the past when it was farmland. While these changes may mean that the town has lost some of its gritty, working class character, Lyttelton township has retained a high proportion of historic buildings and structures able to tell the story of the workings of the town that has been Canterbury's main port since the province was founded.

In 2006 Banks Peninsula District Council was amalgamated with the Christchurch City Council, ending Lyttelton's independent role in local government. At the time of amalgamation, Lyttelton had 3,075 residents, many of whom commuted to Christchurch to work.

Physical Description

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration. Information in square brackets indicate modifications made after the report was considered by the Board.

Construction Professionals:

Edward Jollie - Town Planner

Captain Joseph Thomas, Charles Torlesse - Surveyors

Construction Materials:

Timber, brick, volcanic rock, stone, stucco, corrugated iron, ceramic tiles, glass, steel, concrete.

The Lyttelton Township Historic Area, sited upon the remains of an extinct volcano caldera, comprises a highly compact area of some 39 streetscapes made up largely of housing but also containing commercial buildings and other structures or features such as distinctive red volcanic rock walls, steps, open spaces, and nooks and crannies. The entire Lyttelton Township Historic Area can be viewed from a number of places within the town, notably from the top of the Timeball Station at the north-east ridge of the historic area. The subtle interaction between architectural styles within the compact clustering of buildings and the unaltered grid layout of the streets within the steep topography of the area provides a strong visual quality to the Historic Area. Some streetscape views are intense. Of particular note are the views down Oxford, Canterbury and Dublin Streets where the steep street vistas create a dramatic foreshortening effect when looking past the commercial area down to the port, sea and open sky.

The original town grid layout remains clearly legible. Original land parcels, boundary fence divisions, corridors, walls, split-level roads and steep road patterns remain in residential areas while the main commercial area contains a variety of building types including some modern structures.

While there is variety in architectural style and form, there is generally unity of scale and materials in much of the housing. The houses strung along the hillsides follow the contours of the land, providing pleasing stimulation to the eye. Whereas a number of other colonial New Zealand towns also retain representative house styles, Lyttelton's geographical openness means that the spatial pattern of such house styles is not obscured by later development or infill. In this sense, there is a high degree of interconnectivity.

The highest concentration of historic buildings and features is within Lyttelton's original street grid layout (refer to Figure 4 of Lyttelton Rates Map 1867 and Figure 5 Lyttelton Map 1875). Beyond that layout there is a gradual transition to a more suburban form, with a more scattered and smaller collection of historic buildings at the outer margins that now sit amongst later mixed housing stock.

There is a strong sense of arrival when one reaches Lyttelton. Situated on the lower slopes of the Port Hills and around the shores of a cove on the northern side of Lyttelton Harbour, the town is about eight kilometres west of the heads. By road Lyttelton is approximately 19 kilometres south-east of Christchurch via Sumner and Evans Pass and is approximately 13 kilometres via the long Lyttelton Road Tunnel. The business and industrial section extends around the foreshore of the port, while the residential area is on the hillsides above. The port itself, which includes foreshore reclamation, is immediately to the south of the Lyttelton Township Historic Area. The view from Lyttelton across the harbour to the south is Diamond Harbour and up to Ripapa Island and Camp Bay, to the south-west is Quail Island. The Maori settlement of Rapaki is around the bays five kilometres to the west of Lyttelton.

The Lyttelton Township Historic Area has a clear geographical area determined by the restrictions of the volcanic geology which has steep slopes from the caldera creating a natural amphitheatre. Beyond the township, Lyttelton is overwhelmed by natural features. The ancient volcanic rim provides Lyttelton's skyline, below which regenerating bush provides a clear boundary for the township.

The boundaries of the Lyttelton Township Historic Area are Randolph Terrace, Reserve Terrace and Sumner Road in the east, Brenchley Road and Days Road in the north, Cressy Terrace in the west, and Brittan Terrace, Norwich, and Gladstone Quays in the south. The quays are the southern boundaries for the historic area with the harbour (and port) giving distinct delineation. The modern port is largely on reclaimed land and, although containing some important historical features such as the graving dock and pump house, has not been assessed for inclusion in the extent of registration for the Lyttelton Township Historic Area.

Each of the streets has individual components that contribute to the Lyttelton Township Historic Area. (Refer to Appendix 4 of the registration report for descriptions of individual components). The key components of the historic area cover height, the residential character, streetscapes, continuity of views, green spaces (the cemeteries being the largest), and London Street and Norwich Quay as the main civic area. These are the contributing elements that bind the historic area together. Most houses are modest one or two storeyed structures, and have been altered or added to over time. Sections are generally small (though not necessarily standard sizes), except on the higher streets where there are larger sections with steep sloping gardens (for example on Reserve Terrace). The compact nature of the housing means that many properties can be viewed at once. For the majority of places, it is possible to have a good view of back yards from around the town. There is not a lot of street frontage, relatively few grassed areas and in many cases no off-street parking for cars.

Historic pedestrian routes comprise a network of lanes, steps and walkways, linking the streets and terraces. Amenity-related planting is located in small gardens between houses. The south-facing upper slopes of Lyttelton remains largely undeveloped and primarily in grasslands, regenerating native tussocklands, shrub and scrublands. Below the ground an extensive Victorian brick barrel drain system exists for combined storm water and sewage reticulation.

Lyttelton has a strata pattern for the age of some of its residential buildings. Generally speaking the higher the terrace the newer the housing, with the exception of farms or farm workers cottages built on the original rural sections. Oxford Street, for example, has cottages from the 1860s and 1870s, St Davids Street has housing from the 1860s to 1880s, Reserve Terrace has housing from 1880s to 1900s and Randolph Terrace has buildings from 1900s to 1920s.

Lyttelton is notable for its large number of timber buildings, many which have been added to over the years with lean-tos and other additions, and most of which have corrugated iron roofs and somewhat steep roof pitches. The result is often an eclectic mix of early architectural styles. Kauri, matai and totara was used extensively in early construction. Architectural styles used in domestic timber buildings include: Colonial 'But-and-Ben' and 'Saltbox' style (neo-Georgian one and two cell timber cottages); Regency style with balcony, curved verandah roof and decorative columns; Gothic Revival (including some Carpenter Gothic) with decorative bargeboards, finials, fretwork and steep roofs; Villas, some Arts and Crafts and some substantial bungalows.

Stone and brick housing is rare in Lyttelton. However, brick is extensively used for firewalls and chimneys and Governors Bay, Quail Island and Sumner Road redstone is used in much of Lyttelton's retaining walls and in the ecclesiastical buildings. Lyttelton's three stone churches, which all stand on Winchester Street, are relatively small, in keeping with the scale of the town. Stone or plastered brick has been used in a number of public buildings such as the former Post Office on Norwich Quay, the former Lyttelton Borough Council Chambers and the former library and fire brigade building on Oxford Street. These all employ a simple Italian Renaissance style. The stone Timeball Station, with its rare drop-ball mechanism, stands castle-like on the eastern flanks of the Lyttelton basin overlooking the town.

The town centre commercial area has a wide range of hotels and shops utilising a variety of architectural styles and materials. These include interpretations of neo-classical, Renaissance, a Californian style cinema with Art Nouveau detailing, Art Deco and Spanish Mission. Although small in number, some architectural developments in the town from the 1960s tend to be conspicuous, for example, the post-war glass-and-steel Harbour Board offices, the round-windowed 1970s post office on London Street, and the later Harbour Board offices of 1987 in a modern interpretation of neo-classical.

The various Harbour Board buildings alone tell of architectural trends: neo-classical for the first building of 1880, modernist/brutalist of the early 1960s and neo-classical post-modernist of 1987.

Land included in the Registration:

The Lyttelton Township Historic Area is a particularly large area that includes most of the streets within the town. It is the township that is recognised in this Historic Area registration. With only a few minor exceptions, the proposed extent of registration follows the legal land parcels associated with properties on those streets.

The historical description of Lyttelton Township Historic Area includes frequent mention of the port and harbour but the port itself has not been assessed for registration.

Historic Places on Land included in the Registration:

See Appendix 4, Volume 2.

There are 39 streetscapes encompassed by the Lyttelton Township Historic Area. This includes those nine main streets that were planned and drawn up in England on a grid pattern. Those running east-west are Norwich Quay, London Street, Winchester Street, Exeter Street and Ripon Street. Those running north-south are St Davids Street, Oxford Street, Canterbury Street, and Dublin Street (these four streets running north-south have very steep inclines, which is reflecting in the style of buildings on those streets). The other streets encompassed by the Lyttelton Township Historic Area were planned and developed after the arrival of the colonists and so follow the natural contours more readily; these are Brenchley Road, the lower part the Lyttelton side of Bridle Path, Brittan Terrace, Coleridge Terrace, College Road, Cornwall Road, Cressy Terrace, Cunningham Terrace, Days Road, Donald Street, Dudley Road, Flimwell Lane, Gladstone Quay, part of Godley Quay, Hawkhurst Road, Jacksons Road, Joyce Street, Keebles Lane, Randolph Terrace, Reserve Terrace, Seaview Terrace, Selwyn Road and Lane and Parade, Simeon Quay, Somes Road, Sumner Road, Ticehurst Road and Terrace, Upham Terrace, Voelas Road and Webb Lane. Below the ground and included as a 'streetscape' is the Storm Water Brick Barrel drain complex that runs underneath the town. (Refer figures to maps in Appendix 1 of the registration report). The streetscapes include housing, commercial buildings, walls, paths, steps, nooks and crannies (hidden or seemingly ad hoc spaces).

Relationship between Historic Places:

There is a high degree of visual interconnectivity within the township itself, between the streetscapes identified in the historic area, views within the town and to the volcanic rim, port and harbour including views to Quail Island, Ripapa Island and Diamond Harbour. Physically, historic places interrelate through adjoining street and pedestrian routes and the compact condensed nature of the buildings determined by the geology of the Lyttelton basin. Historically, the Lyttelton Township Historic Area has been inextricably linked to the port and this has been a key factor in its development. Although the port has been extensively modified and developed, the township contains numerous historic places directly related to the port, including the numerous port workers' houses.

Key Elements of the Historic Area:

Key elements that contribute to the historic area are as follows:

- Street names and street layout (including split leveling and 'ramps' on many of the steep streets);

- Public pedestrian walkways and steps;

- The numerous 19th century timber cottages;

- Predominance of volcanic stone walls;

- Public spaces such as the cemeteries, former gaol site, and streets;

- The archaeology of the town (especially the brick barrel storm water system under the entire town);

- Historic public and commercial buildings in the lower part of the town;

- Historic kerb and channeling on Oxford Street and Simeon Quay;

- Churches and lodges;

- The streetscape views within the township, views to and from the crater rim skyline and views to and from the port and harbour.

The historic area is based around the core grid plan and later development of the upper roads. Broadly speaking, the key elements are the streetscapes of the 39 streets (one being the underground storm water brick barrel drain system), the individual characteristics of which are outlined in Appendix 4, Volume 2. (Refer to Appendix 4, Volume 2 for key elements of each streetscape).

[Many of the buildings in the Lyttelton Township Historic Area were damaged in the Canterbury Earthquakes, including the Timeball Station and three churches on Winchester Street. Nevertheless, most of the key elements of the Lyttelton Township Historic Area remain.]

Construction Dates

Other
1849 -
Commencement of development of Lyttelton township

Completion Date

3rd August 2009

Report Written By

R. Burgess

Information Sources

Watson, 1962

James Watson, The first 100 years, Municipal Government in Lyttelton, Lyttelton, 1962

Scotter, 1968

W.H. Scotter, A History of Port Lyttelton, Lyttelton Harbour Board, Christchurch, 1968

Lyttelton Borough Council

Lyttelton Borough Council

Montgomery, Roy, History of Lyttelton (Incomplete unpublished manuscript for Lyttelton Borough Council), c1989-1990.

Rice, 2004

Geoffrey W Rice, Lyttelton: Port and Town, an illustrated history, Canterbury University Press, Christchurch, 2004.

Couch, 1987

Arthur (Hiwi) Couch, Rapaki Remembered, Te Waihora Press and The Canterbury Maori Studies Association, Christchurch, 1987.

Couch, 2000

Te Rangi Couch, 'Whakaraupo and 'the people of the land', in Christchurch Lyttelton Star Sesquicentenary Special Edition, December 2000.

Montgomery, 2009

Roy Montgomery, 'Too many chiefs for the Chief Surveyor? How the capital, port and other towns of the Canterbury Association were planned and established in the South Island of New Zealand between 1847 and 1851.' (unpublished manuscript draft, March 2009).

Wilson, 2007

John Wilson, City and Peninsula: the Historic Places of Christchurch and Banks Peninsula, Christchurch, 2007.

Other Information

A fully referenced Registration 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.

Historic Area Place Name

Brenchley Road Streetscape
Bridle Path Streetscape
Brittan Terrace Streetscape
Canterbury Street Streetscape
Coleridge Terrace Streetscape
College Road Streetscape
Cornwall Road Streetscape
Cressy Terrace Streetscape
Cunningham Terrace Streetscape
Days Road Streetscape
Donald Street Streetscape
Dublin Street Streetscape
Dudley Road Streetscape
Exeter Street Streetscape
Flimwell Lane Streetscape
Gladstone Quay Streetscape
Godley Quay Streetscape
Hawkhurst Road Streetscape
Jacksons Road Streetscape
Joyce Street Streetscape
Keebles Lane Streetscape
London Street Streetscape
Norwich Quay Streetscape
Oxford Street Streetscape
Randolph Terrace Streetscape
Reserve Terrace Streetscape
Ripon Street Streetscape
Seaview Terrace Streetscape
Selwyn Road and Lane and Parade Streetscape
Simeon Quay Streetscape
Somes Road Streetscape
St Davids Street Streetscape
Storm Water Brick Barrels 'Streetscape'
Sumner Road Streetscape
Ticehurst Road and Terrace Streetscape
Upham Terrace Streetscape
Voelas Road Streetscape
Webb Lane Streetscape
Winchester Street Streetscape