Peterborough Centre (Former Teachers’ Training College)

1-37/25 Peterborough Street And Montreal Street, Christchurch

  • Peterborough Centre (Former Teachers’ Training College), Christchurch.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Robyn Burgess. Date: 27/01/2022.
  • Peterborough Centre (Former Teachers’ Training College), Christchurch.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Robyn Burgess. Date: 27/01/2022.
  • Peterborough Centre (Former Teachers’ Training College), Christchurch. Detail showing 1930 date for extension .
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Robyn Burgess. Date: 27/01/2022.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1914 Date Entered 26th November 1981 Date of Effect 26th November 1981

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Units 1-37 DP 79647 on Sec 1 SO 15603 (RTs CB45C/1115, CB45C/1118, CB45C/1119, CB45C/1120, CB45C/1121, CB45C/1122, CB46A/76, CB46A/77, CB45C/1124, CB45C/1123, CB45C/1125, CB45C/1126, CB45C/1127, CB45C/1140, CB45C/1142, CB45C/1143, CB45C/1144, CB45C/1114, CB45C/1117, CB45C/1145, CB45C/1146, CB45C/1147, CB45C/1148, CB45C/1149, CB45C/1135, CB45C/1128, CB45C/1129, CB45C/1136, CB45C/1137, CB45C/1131, CB45C/1138, CB45C/1133, CB45C/1134, CB45C/1139, 95654, 95655, 229955), Canterbury Land District and the building known as the Peterborough Centre thereon.

City/District Council

Christchurch City

Region

Canterbury Region

Legal description

Units 1-37 DP 79647 on Sec 1 SO 15603 (RTs CB45C/1115, CB45C/1118, CB45C/1119, CB45C/1120, CB45C/1121, CB45C/1122, CB46A/76, CB46A/77, CB45C/1124, CB45C/1123, CB45C/1125, CB45C/1126, CB45C/1127, CB45C/1140, CB45C/1142, CB45C/1143, CB45C/1144, CB45C/1114, CB45C/1117, CB45C/1145, CB45C/1146, CB45C/1147, CB45C/1148, CB45C/1149, CB45C/1135, CB45C/1128, CB45C/1129, CB45C/1136, CB45C/1137, CB45C/1131, CB45C/1138, CB45C/1133, CB45C/1134, CB45C/1139, 95654, 95655, 229955), Canterbury Land District

Summaryopen/close

The Peterborough Centre (Former Teachers’ Training College), a large stone-faced Collegiate Gothic style building on the corner of Peterborough and Montreal Streets, Christchurch, was built in stages between 1924 and 1930, as the place where Christchurch’s primary school teachers were trained from 1927 until 1978. It has cultural significance, both for the role it has played in the educational culture of the city and for its subsequent uses, especially through tenants through the 1980s and 1990s involved in arts, culture and wellbeing, including those who tell part of the story of Christchurch’s queer history. The building also has aesthetic, architectural and historical significance or value.

The area now occupied by Ōtautahi/Christchurch city has always been a food gathering space for Ngāi Tahu. Its water and rich soils meant an abundance of birds and fish gathered in seasonal rounds by Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu. From 1849-50, the Canterbury Association oversaw the systematic Pākeha settlement of Canterbury and surveyed the town of Christchurch and over the following decades a variety of educational buildings were constructed. From 1876, Christchurch Normal School, located on the corner of Montreal and Kilmore Streets, provided teacher trainees with an opportunity to observe teachers and classes in action in a normal school environment. Pressure for construction of a separate teachers’ college building grew and in September 1924 the foundation stone of the Christchurch Teachers’ College was laid on land on the corner of Peterborough and Montreal Streets. The first two wings were completed in time for the official opening to coincide with the training college jubilee celebrations, in May 1927, and the women’s block and craft lecture room on the northern side was complete by 1930.

The entire new complex was designed in the office of Canterbury Education Board architect, George Penlington, to accommodate up to 300 student teachers. The Gothic Revival style, with Oamaru and Halswell stone frontage, was deliberately chosen to be in keeping with existing educational facilities in the area – Normal School (later Cranmer Courts, demolished in 2010-2011), Christ’s College and Canterbury College (later the University of Canterbury and now The Arts Centre of Christchurch). The bold main entrance angled on the south-east corner is flanked by two octagonal towers with battlemented tops and an oriel window above the main door. Wings extend along both Peterborough and Montreal Streets and contain carved stonework, notably around the steel casement fenestration, and buttress forms. The plan is U shaped, around a courtyard, and the inward facing elevations are of brick and Oamaru stone. The gabled roof has cross gables which project forward and the roof covering is Welsh slate. On the interior, at the landing of the main stair, is a stained glass war memorial window depicting three figures symbolising Peace, Chivalry and Justice.

After the teachers’ college completed its long-planned move out of the building in 1978 to its present campus in Ilam, the building stood empty for two years before being used by various cultural groups. It became known as the Peterborough Centre. One group of tenants tells a part of Christchurch history not often told. The Lambda Centre leased the former science laboratory, at Room 104 on the ground floor, to operate as a friendly drop in centre, meeting place and coffee bar for gay and lesbian people for around two decades from late 1980. Standing for a sense of freedom, the 11th lower-case letter of the Greek alphabet, Lambda (λ), was adopted as a sign of Gay Liberation in the 1960s. The Lambda Centre within the Peterborough Centre helped thousands of gay and lesbian people in Christchurch by providing a safe and supportive socialising venue, with regular informative STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) clinics. From the mid-1980s, it offered AIDS clinics and counselling at a time when HIV/AIDS was emerging throughout the world as a serious life-threatening illness that disproportionately affected gay men. In 1989 the Gay Information Centre moved to Room 206 of the Peterborough Centre, on the floor above the Lambda Centre, having previously operated out of the Arts Centre on Hereford Street as well as within Room 104 of the Peterborough Centre. Other tenants at the Peterborough Centre at times in the 1980s and 1990s included the Christchurch College of Tailoring and Design, Christchurch Drama Centre and the Schizophrenia Fellowship. In 1997 the building was purchased by developer Robert Brown who converted it into 37 apartments. Renamed The Peterborough, the building was owned by the individual tenants of the apartments. It suffered damage in the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes and has since lain vacant requiring strengthening and repair, though new owners have expressed their intention to repair and redevelop the building.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Penlington, George

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Stewart Ross Architects

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1930 -

Completion Date

9th February 2022

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Williams, 2014

Williams, Murray Noel, ‘BUILDING YESTERDAY’S SCHOOLS: An analysis of educational architectural design as practised by the Building Department of the Canterbury Education Board from 1916-1989’, PhD thesis, University of Canterbury, 2014

Other Information

A fully referenced copy of the Summary Report is available on request from the Southern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

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.