Local Heart, Global Soul

February 10, 2012

The Old Post Office, Regent Theatre …and the Clarendon Façade Doesn’t get a Third Chance…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today’s post takes us into Christchurch’s Catherdral Square itself… the barriers are in the centre of the central open space of the Square as work is being done on a multitude of buildings close by.

To my amazment the Old Post Ofice building is still standing!

It hasn’t been a Post Office for years now… more recently it became a visitors centre and Starbucks and I have no idea if it is still structurally sound, or repairable if it has sustained damage, …but it’s a relief to see it here at all at this point.

A little further along the Regent Theatre building is now a sad vacant space… CERA have posted a few “then and now” posters on the fences, not for every building we can see, but for a few.

I remember well going to the “pictures” at the Regent during my years in Christchurch and the building too was a beauty inside and out that was much admired and will be sadly missed.

Further down this end of Worcester street that bends around the square and goes towards Oxford Terrace there are several other buildings that I’d like to know more about.

As a kid, I knew the building that’s now called the “Rydges Hotel” by it’s ‘old days” former name of “Noah’s Hotel” ..it sits on the northern side of the Oxford/Worcester corner. I have no idea what shape it’s in now.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On the Oxford/Worcester south side corner stands the Clarendon Tower.

It’s a stange building because it was formerly the Clarendon Hotel, a grand three storey stone building that dated from around 1903.

Then, very contrivertically in the 1980’s they decided to make a tower block out of it and were going to knock down the hotel completely, but in the end they kept the origonal facade and them “grew” another 15 or so stories of modern building out of the top of it.

It was, and still is, the most bizzare juxtaposition of buildings I have ever seen and not quite a marriage made in heaven.

Yes, I was in the “camp” that said, “better some of it saved to live on in this bizzre fashion than all of it lost completely”,  but I still thought  “What were they thinking?” every time I passed it.

Wiki has more detail about it’s history and photos, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarendon_Tower .

Since the rest of Worcester Street and Oxford Terrace are still cordoned off, I can only see the “town side” of the Clarendon and not the facade that can be more clearly seen from Oxford Terrace. The tower looks forelorn with it’s plywood panels covering  the broken windows.

I can’t see but am also wondering about the (Robert Falcon) Scott memorial statue (of South Pole fame) that sat on the grass on the river side opposite the Clarendon Tower, apparently it toppled in the February quake and was damaged…

…it’s a very special statue because it’s strikingly white in colour instead of the oft prefered bronze and because it was carved to an amazingly professional standard by none other than Scott’s widow, in memory of her husband and his efforts to reach the Pole.

Once again I’ve tried to use Google Street View to give you an idea of what these places were like before. The CERA  information leaflets were flapping around in the wind, so a passing walker volunteers to hold it whilst I take photos. (Thank you Lady, that was sweet of you)… or in Kiwi slang … “Sweet !!”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

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