Thursday, October 20, 2011

CHRISTCHURCH HERITAGE - beautiful new hardback published

Since those devastating earthquakes changed the face of Christchurch forever there have been a number of impressive books published featuring the earthquake damage, before and after shots and personal recollections.
Now comes along the book which I believe stands out above the others. It is a handsome hardcover book written by long-term Cantabrian resident and award-winning journalist Bruce Ansley with extensive, often dramatic photography both contemporary and archival supplied by The Press.
Ansley, who writes so beautifully has captured a fascinating social and historical record of his beloved city. A city which has shared in the lives of its proud citizens since the first four ships arrived in the1850s, when the settlement of 2,000 began to lay the physical, political and social foundations and infrastructure for what was to become our second largest urban centre.

The book describes the most significant heritage buildings,(above - Christchurch Heritage - Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings),  precincts and landmarks of Christchurch that have been damaged in the earthquakes. It is a true celebration of Christchurch the way it used to be, and it contains a message of hope — if the city authorities go about the task of rebuilding with the courage, determination and style of their forebears 150 years before, then perhaps in the future people might be celebrating their new heritage with the same depth of emotion as this generation mourns the loss of the old.
The book has also been a labour of love for Jude Tewnion, the photo librarian at The Press who has spent countless hours finding the photos, sifting through files salvaged from the top floor of the devastated Press building in the heart of the Red Zone. Their historic photographic collection was rescued some time after the February earthquake and many photographs had to be transferred to practical wheelie bins and stored out of harm’s way.
Iconic inner city buildings featured include Christchurch Cathedral, the Catholic Cathedral, the Arts Centre, The Press building, Provincial Council buildings, Cranmer Court, Christs College, many churches, and the city squares among many other places.
Ansley also includes a number of buildings dear to Christchurch but lesser-known outside the city, such as the old Woods flour mill in Addington and the Caledonian Hall.
Some buildings aren’t grand but are so much a part of the city that they’ll be badly missed, like the rows of old shops in Sydenham and Colombo Street and landmarks such as the Carlton Hotel and the Sumner Town Hall.
In addition the book covers Lyttleton, plus the ruined Shag Rock, Castle Rock and Monck’s Cave.
As with the other two bestselling Press/Random House earthquake books, proceeds from this one will also go to the recovery effort but this time funds will go to a special heritage fund. 
Bruce Ansley is now a full-time author; he has spent 40 years writing for magazines, newspapers (including titles as diverse as the Christchurch Star and the London Sun) television and radio. He was a staff writer for the NZ Listener magazine for many years. His books are ‘Stoned on Duty’, ‘A Long Slow Affair of the Heart’, and ‘Gods and Little Fishes’. Bruce has won fellowships to both Oxford and Cambridge universities, along with several journalism awards. He uses our language beautifully, a true word man from way back.

Random House - $49.99 - Hardcover - in shops next week.I have chosen a  selection of photos from the book, which the publishers have kindly supplied,  and these follow:

The Press building in Cathedral Square, a fine four-storied structure designed for the city’s heart.
Above - The badly damaged Press building
Above - The London Street Restaurant, on the corner of London and Oxford streets.
Above - The Empire Hotel, London Street, Lyttelton. Its Renaissance architecture restored in 2006, ruined in 2011.  
 Above -The Harbourlight Theatre, London Street, a tradition of entertainment. 
Above - The children’s library in 1947, starting point for many of Christchurch’s young readers.
Above - The stairway which led up from the ground floor to the rarefied levels above, photographed in 1970. 

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