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The clock tower amidst traffic on a quieter day (Te Papa)

"A workman engaged in painting one of the faces of the Clock Tower, which has been re-erected at the intersection of Victoria and Montreal streets." Press, 5 December 1930

Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower

 now situated on the corner of Victoria and Montreal Streets

The Victoria Street Clock Tower (also known as the Jubilee Clock Tower) was built in Coventry, England, in 1860 and shipped out in 142 packages. It took about 70 years, and four moves, to reach its current home on the corner of Victoria and Montreal Streets.

 

The clock tower that didn’t fit

The clock tower was originally designed by architect Benjamin Montfort for the Canterbury Provincial Council Chambers building (280 Durham Street), which he also designed.

 

But the tower was too heavy for the building, so it sat in the chambers’ courtyard for several years.

 

In 1864, the council put the clock tower into storage at its yards on Oxford Terrace.

 

Over 30 years later, the council decided to use the clock tower as a monument to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It was installed at the corner of Manchester, High and Lichfield Streets, on a new stone base.

 

By 1929, business owners and the council were asking for it to be removed as it was the scene of a fatal car accident.

 

The move occurred in 1930, as a Depression works scheme, but not before Christchurch had seriously considered sending the tower to Hamilton, although it appears that Hamilton was only interested in buying the clock and iron portion of the tower.

 

Not everyone was in favour of the move. Councillor A W Beaven dissented arguing that it was the most conveniently located clock in the city and acted as a safety zone for pedestrians trying to cross the busy intersection.

 

The clock mechanism did not work, so that was replaced when it was moved to Victoria Street. The Council approved the expenditure of £285 to buy a new clock.

 

Find out more

Summary of official report by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga listing Victoria Street Clock Tower as a Category 1 Historic Place

 

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