Worcester Street Bridge

Worcester Street, CHRISTCHURCH


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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 to cross the Avon was a flattened tree trunk erected on Worcester St adjacent to the Land Office in February 1851. By 1860 a more substantial footbridge had been raised, but this was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1868. Its replacement was a cart bridge, which was in turn succeeded by the present bridge in 1885. This was erected by Walter Bory Scott (1851-1922) at a cost of £1, 984. Born in Norwich and educated at York, Scott emigrated to the USA in 1871. Moving on to NZ a few years later, he became a contractor and builder in Christchurch. In Africa between 1902 and 1907, Scott later returned to the city and founded a motor company. Although the designer of the bridge is not recorded, it is most likely to have been City Surveyor Charles Walkden (1824-1908). A surveyor and engineer, Walkden 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, (and particularly during the 1880s), 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. At only 52 ft in width, the Worcester St Bridge is one of only two nineteenth century bridges in the city not to have been widened to accommodate modern traffic (the other being the Armagh St Hagley Park Bridge). Today the tourist tram route crosses the bridge, though trams did not pass this way when part of the transport system.

Worcester Street Bridge, Christchurch. CC BY-SA 4.0 Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org | Michal Klajban | 22/04/2019 | Michal Klajban - Wikimedia Commons
Worcester Street Bridge, Christchurch. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com | PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite | 10/08/2014 | Phil Braithwaite
Worcester Street Bridge, Christchurch. c.1880s-1920s The stone bridge at Worcester Street across the Avon River, Christchurch, featuring the Clarendon Hotel in the background. The Press (Newspaper) :Negatives. Ref: 1/2-040983-G | Unknown | Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 2


Able to Visit

List Number


Date Entered

4th April 2004

Date of Effect

4th April 2004

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the bridge and land the bridge sits on.

Legal description

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

Location Description

Worcester Street/Boulevard crossing the Avon River

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