My New Zealand Driving Licence is about to expire so we came to Sydenham to the Automobile Association to renew it.
Unfortunately I need a copy of our city council rate payments, or bank statement etc as proof that I am still eligible for my licence and since we own property in Christchurch providing the required documents aren’t a problem, if only we had remembered to bring said documentation with us.
On the first occasion we didn’t have time to go back to the north side of the city to retrieve the paperwork because we had a lunch appointment to go to in Hoon Hay, but I noticed the Old Sydenham Post Office in a very sorry state and quickly snapped a few photographs as we went by.
I’m devastated to see it so broken and damaged, and hope that the bracing I’m seeing means that a repair might be possible,but when I look at the photographs on the computer that evening, I notice that the roof tiles have all been removed… and get an ominous feeling that that’s not a good sign.
The Old Sydenham Post Office is a well known and loved landmark, a beautiful historic building from about 1911 that was turned into a restaurant in 1993. I do know that at the very beginning of the building’s life that there was a clock tower on the Colombo & Brougham Street corner of the building but that was removed I think in the 1940′s.
Later, whilst running errands we pass the building again and the awful feeling I had is confirmed, it’s in the process of being demolished.
After our visit to the Sydenham Bakery just down the road I get Himself to pull over so that I can take photos of the demolition process. It’s a sad moment, but unlike many of the heritage buildings in the city I at least get the chance to catch a glimpse of the building’s former glory and say a quiet goodbye.
When I’m next in Christchurch again so many of these beautiful historical remnants will already be long gone, replaced with new builds or still just gaps in the urban landscape, with only the ghostly images of their existence imprinted in the memories of those who knew them well.
I can only liken this experience to attending a funeral… gone is the moment when the individual can be saved, all you can do now is to morn the passing, remember the beauty and the good times and say the necessary goodbyes in your heart.
I picked up a small piece of rubble that was within finger’s reach inside the wire safety fence and put it in my pocket. It’s now residing in a little jar at home in the Netherlands … a little non-descript lump to most, but with a strange sentimental value to me, a tiny connection to the past I once knew.
I’m lucky to be here today, it’s clear from the speed of the work that everything will be gone very soon and I almost missed it. There are quite a lot of photos, but this is a once chance photographic opportunity only, the place is quite literally disappearing by the minute.
The building might be soon gone but I can only hope that the memory will live on and that a new heritage might be built that later generations can also fall in love with and treasure. Old Sydenham Post Office… R.I.P.