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Hobbs ' Cathedral Chambers

on the northwest corner of Cathedral Square

Tūranga is probably the fifth building to have stood on its site at the north-east corner of Cathedral Square. During earthworks for the current building, archaeologists discovered remnants of the foundations of a large building erected in 1883 for Frederick Hobbs. The 1880s were a period of rapid change in the Square as timber buildings were replaced with robust structures of brick and stone.

 

A family affair

The Hobbs family owned land at this site since 1857 when Frederick Hobbs operated a drapery business with his father, trading as ‘Hobbs and Son Tailors’. The business flourished and this corner of Cathedral Square became known as ‘Hobbs’ corner’. In the 1860s the business expanded and their original building was shifted to the eastern side of the section to allow for a new building at the corner of Cathedral Square and Colombo Street.

 

New digs

In 1883, architect William Armson designed a new building for Hobbs, much grander than either wooden building. Known as Cathedral Chambers, the new building provided three storeys plus a basement. The ground floor provided shops and offices for lease and the second storey was designed for a gentleman’s club, Tattersal’s Club, accessed from a private staircase. Meeting rooms were available on the top floor and a caretaker was accommodated in a tower on the roof. The building was well equipped with strong-rooms throughout, running water (supplied from tanks in the roof) and internal lavatories.

 

 

The Cathedral Chambers building remained on the site at 66 Cathedral Square until 1975, when it was replaced by the Colonial Mutual Life (CML) building. The CML building remained on site until it was demolished following the Canterbury earthquakes

 

Find out more

66 Cathedral Square, Christchurch: Report on Archaeological Monitoring, by Matthew Hennessey and Lydia Mearns, 2018 (Authority No 2015/738eq) is available for download through the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Digital Library

 

The original plans for the building are held in the Armson-Collins Architectural Drawing Collection at the Macmillan Brown Library

 

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