Local Heart, Global Soul

October 11, 2012

Sydenham: What’s Left, What Will Go, What’s Gone and What Will Rise in It’s Place.

Filed under: Christchurch Earthquake,HISTORY,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

People ask me why so many buildings in Christchurch are so badly damaged that they can no longer be repaired:  my answer is that people can only make a building as safe as  they possibly can with the available technology of the day, and that expecting the buildings to stay intact when a large earthquake hits is really too much to ask: better we just have to require that they stay up long enough for people to be evacuated safely.

That so many buildings managed to stay upright in their extremely broken states can be counted as a kind of “success” i.e. at least the death toll wasn’t  in the thousands or tens of thousands as it might well have been without a decent building code and solid engineering.

Sadly the damage that many buildings sustained means that controlled implosions to bring them down aren’t possible, because controlled implosions necessitate cutting support columns and planting the explosives in strategic places,  something only possible if the structure is not in an already weakened state.

Add to that mix a daily dose of aftershocks and it’s clear that the “nibbler method” where buildings are slowly dismantled from the top down by crane,  is the only way, no matter how slow or tedious that method is.

In Sydenham lots of buildings suffered irreparable damage and are now gone…

Today’s post is one that wonders about the fate of Sydenham… what’s left, what will go, what’s gone and what will rise in it’s place. Let’s take a look…

Top photo is on the left hand side of the street of the third photo.

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

The following building used to be famous, not for the building itself but for what used to be on top of it… a mega huge fibreglass Kiwi, icon and logo of the Kiwi bacon company (Sadly the fiberglass Kiwi has been gone for years, so it’s not on the  Google street view image)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

…a little further down the road this mural has been added to a back wall of one of the remaining rear buildings….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

looking (south) back at the next block…

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

and one further….

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

Opposite Sydenham Bakery…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

and a little way down the road…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And pretty much the entire Lane Walker Rudkin “complex”of buildings… before: (yes, almost all of them)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

Now….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And all around more of the same…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 1, 2012

The Dark Side of the Aftermath of an Earthquake…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You are looking at another page of my New Zealand travel diary, detailing events of January 2012.

Opposite the Old Sydenham Post  Office building of yesterday’s post, also on the corners of Colombo and Brougham  Streets there used to stand a beautiful church.

It was called the Sydenham Methodist Church, a beautiful stone building in Gothic style that dated back to 1877 making it one of the oldest churches in the city.

When the local area made a transition from residential to mainly commercial properties and the population fell below what was feasible for the Church’s survival it went though a series of owners until it passed into the care of the Sydenham Heritage Trust in 2001  after locals saved it from demolition by a developer.

Then came the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011… the building was severely damaged and sat awaiting a decision on whether if might be saved or not.  Then suddenly the unthinkable happened…

I read the newspaper articles on-line at the time, just after the 22 February 2011 earthquake, and was stunned… there’s an entry in Wikipedia that outlines the shocking travesty that took place:

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The building was purchased in 2001 by the newly formed Sydenham Heritage Trust with the help of a Christchurch City Council interest free loan.

Restoration and earthquake strengthening was an ongoing activity of the trust.

The building was damaged in the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

It was subsequently demolished by a demolition company without the knowledge or consent of the owners, and without authorisation from the Historic Places Trust, the council archaeologist (who approves demolition applications) or the National Civil Defence Controller (who oversees earthquake responses).

A police complaint has been lodged, and an enquiry into the unauthorised demolition is likely.

I read this with my mouth hanging open in disbelief… the demolition company said that they carried out the work on the express instruction of the City Council …   but responsibility of which appear to be now strenuously denied.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whoever authorised it committed a travesty … that the buildings owners were not even informed until after the deed had been done is appalling.

Some 11 months later,  stand taking photos of the rubble behind the fences… it’s clear that little or no effort was made to even reclaim any of the materials because the rubble is littered with glass fragments from the windows.

This is the dark side of the Christchurch earthquake aftermath, there have been more instances like this,  and also of building owners denied  any access to their building whilst demolition contractors either dump or “recycle” valuable materials and chattels from them.

I can only hope that whoever is responsible for these decisions and deceptions is bought to justice.

The buildings they have destroyed can not be bought back of course, but hopefully a severe  penalty might serve to deter other power-happy bureaucrats from ever repeating the travesty that has taken place here.

I don’t have a photograph of the building in it’s former state, but the first Wikipedia link shows both the Church and the Old Sydenham Post Office in their  glory days.  (it’s a stunning photograph) The other two links detail the history of the building and it’s unauthorised demise.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sydenham,_nz.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydenham_Heritage_Church

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/4729950/Unauthorised-church-wreckers-face-prosecution

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On a lighter  note, I discover that someone has tried to brighten up a now exposed wall behind the building next door that has also been demolished…  I “love” it too…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 30, 2012

Attending the Funeral of a Building I loved…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 29, 2012

Savouries and Goodies to Take Home…

Filed under: FOOD,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Reviews,Specialty — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself and the kids have been very patient out the front of the bakery as they wait for me to complete my tour…

I watch as other savouries: sausage rolls, pasties and the like are sorted out the back and then make my way to the front counter to buy some goodies to take back with us.

Celia has a surprise for me… a gift box with four raspberry buns and some apricot pies!  Wow,  talk about “the icing on the cake”!  To say I’m delighted with our  unexpected gift is an understatement.  Fantastic!  Thank You so much Celia!!!

I’m also clutching the address of the place where I can buy pie forms to bring back to The Netherlands…  this visit has exceeded my expectations on so many levels  that it’s made my day.

The only shock has been walking back to the van parked just a short distance down the street and seeing so many gaps where buildings used to be. Before I got into the car I looked around, closed my eyes for a moment and tried to remember what  used to be in the gaps, with some I succeed but with others I draw a blank. It’s good to see other businesses here open though… and  people, the whole area is busy with people.

No matter what life (or Mother Nature) throws at you,  the owners and staff of Sydenham Bakery and all the other local businesses here  prove that they are resilient and with support from locals they are willing to pick up the pieces and get back to normal as much as possible.

One thing I’m certain about too… once fortified by a pie and a raspberry bun, you feel like you can take on the world.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 28, 2012

I’m in Pie Heaven…

Filed under: FOOD,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Reviews,Specialty,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Welcome to my retrospective journal of our trip earlier this year to New Zealand.

Celia of  Sydenham Bakery in Christchurch New Zealand,  is showing me around the working  areas of the bakery.

I tell her that pies are a firm favourite of ours but that since they are not an item that features in Dutch cuisine that I’ve been attempting to make some myself at home, with limited success to date.

One problem that I have is that I can’t find little metal pie forms in the Netherlands, so Celia gives me an address of a catering supplier in Christchurch where I can buy some of the little forms to take home with me.

I did pick some up, they look exactly like these ones do and they are fabulous to use but you have to be very careful because the top edge is very sharp:

…that’s deliberate because once you have lined your pie form with pastry, filled it and placed the top on, all you have to do is to roll your rolling pin over the pie form and the sharp edge cuts and trims any overlapping pastry for you and results in a lovely uniform edge.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I can however attest to the fact that these sharp edges will also cut very nicely into fingers whilst doing the washing up, so baking these with kids would have certain limitations.

The bakery of course bake hundreds of pies per day so their pie forms have been welded into joined sheets so that  dozens can be baked in commercial ovens at a time.

Of course I know there’s no chance of scoring a recipe but after talking to Celia I realise that one of the things I’ve been doing wrong with my pies is that I’ve been using shortcrust pastry for both the top lid and the bottom shell,  when it should be shortcrust for the bottoms and puff pastry for the lid on the top.

Naturally not having a proper pie form also means that it’s no surprise that my versions haven’t been cooking very evenly and that I haven”t  yet got past the problem of the dreaded “soggy bottom”  in my pastry making,  although I did read in one of my cookbooks that baking pies on a rack closer to the bottom of the oven should help with this problem too.  In the meantime I’m in pie heaven… just look at the pie production going on here!  From production to the pie warmers out in the shop front so that customers and come and buy one that’s already hot…   Fabulous!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 26, 2012

Sydenham Bakery: History With Cream On Top…

Filed under: FOOD,HISTORY,NEW ZEALAND,Reviews,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Welcome to my retroactive journal documenting our tour of New Zealand, this secton of which was made in January 2012.

Yesterday I explained the personal memories that form my connection with the Sydenham Bakery  in Christchurch New Zealand.

Now I’m back inside and looking at many familiar New Zealand bakery items.

Yes, we are back to drooling over photos of amazing displays of food … but come on, before you berate me: that’s not new on this blog is it ?

More memories flood back as they always will when you remember iced buns or anything filled with cream and the childish sticky fingers that just needed licking after eating, or the dusting of icing sugar that I managed to spill down my front … this one still being as bad a habit now as it was then, and sadly I need to confess that I’ve also extended this particular bad habit  to other foods like pasta sauce (who am I kidding?… if I’m honest…anything with sauce!) and soup as an adult.

The founder of the bakery, John Kuipers came to Christchurch from the Netherlands at roughly the same time as my Father did…

… they came for work opportunities on the other side of the world and plane fares were so expensive and sea journeys took so long that it was more or less seen as a one-way ticket with little or no prospect (before the advent of cheap long-haul flights) of ever returning to the Netherlands.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Their new lives in New Zealand were  therefore  “make or break” and they worked hard to make their businesses work.

There was a study done a while back in New Zealand on why Dutch immigrants of this time made such a high percentage of successful businesses… and apparently it was partly this “there’s no going back” attitude and also the simple fact that people who are prepared to emigrate so far from home into the unknown, are in general already the type of people who are willing to take a larger amount of risk than their peers.

The ingrained Dutch Calvinist work ethic probably helped too LOL.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of supporting and promoting smaller local businesses, which are also often family run establishments and since I also love local history, here’s a dollop of both in one hit… for me finding both together is like the cream on the top of the cream bun… it makes the whole experience even more delectable.

I talk to Celia about the business and notice there’s a nice display about the history of the business on the wall… I couldn’t get close enough to get really good detail but here’s the text (reproduced with permission).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was 1958 when John Kuipers left Holland to start a new life in Christchurch, New Zealand.

He arrived with 30 pounds  in his pocket and a determination to pursue his love of baking.

After working in Linwood bakery for two years, he realised his dream of owning his own bakery, purchasing the Sydenham Cake kitchen at 458 Colombo Street on 1 September 1960.

The cake kitchen has previously been known as “Matthews” and had opened back in 1910.

John began in 1961 with a little money and a big loan. Turnover in the first week was 120 pounds a week and withing four weeks it was up to 240 pounds a week.

With one shop assistant, Connie Sharp and a part-timer in the bakehouse, Beverley Brewer, John worked long hours starting at 2 in the morning and finishing at 5 at night.

Hans, John’s son joined the staff in 1978 and Paul MacGibbon began as an apprentice in 1982. The following year, with the bakery bursting at it’s seams, John purchased the present site at 424 Colombo Street.

Tragedy struck in 1985 when a fire took hold and completely destroyed the bakery at 458 Colombo Street. With 24 hours the staff were operating from premises at Sandyford Street and within 18 months a new bakery was set up at 424 Colombo Street and business returned to normal.

In 2002, at the age of 65, John decided it was time to retire and Hans took told of the reins. Paul then joined Hans in partnership in 2008.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So… This is “Front of House” as far as the bakery is concerned.. but I have a treat in store, because I get to go ‘out the back” where the best of the action really is…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 25, 2012

From That First Raspberry Bun Until Now… Sydenham Bakery.

Filed under: LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Specialty — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When I first started my first  job in the centre  of Christchurch. I was still living at home and would walk the length of Colombo Street to and from work.  I  therefore passed the Sydenham Bakery twice a day and would look fondly in the shop window as I went past.

My Grandparents, and sometimes my parents, used to stop there every so often to buy soft white,  raspberry buns, apricot pies, Boston buns or slices but only as a really special treat, so for me…  a typical sweet toothed kid, treats that happened not nearly often enough!

I worked all week in town, walking every day past the bakery and at the end of my first working week  the “pay lady” did the rounds and handed out a very small,rectangular brown envelopes to all the staff.

Inside mine were the bank notes of  my first pay, a few coins at the bottom to complete the balance and a crisply folded  pay-sheet that detailed what I’d earned Gross, Taxes paid and the Net balance. The figure on the bottom line wasn’t particularly much but there was more cash in that tiny envelope than I’d ever held before in my life.

I was so proud of my first pay-packet,  dreamed of saving for world travels and walked in the direction of home as if on air. I walked over the Colombo Street over-bridge,  the railway tracks were  busy with trains, freight wagons and carriages and Christchurch’s main  (err…only) Railway station with the tall clock tower was a short distance away.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There were the favourite shops that I would pass in Sydenham on my walk south… the  second hand furniture shops, the photographer’s,  the printing place,  Church, Post office and park with Nazareth House in the distance and on this occasion I knew I would be making a special stop on the way home from work.

I entered the Sydenham Bakery and after a short deliberation bought a raspberry iced bun.  It was my first purchase my my first weekly pay and I was as delighted with my new financial independence as I was with my iced bun.

It’s the sort of day you remember all of your life, and every time I walked past Sydenham Bakery I would look in the window and remember that day and that feeling with a smile.

Since my wages were low and my travel dreams were large I forwent the bus and walked to and from work every day except  the very worst of winter days,  saving my bus fare and watching my travel fund grow. Every now and again I would go inside the bakery and try something new… eventually the apricot pies caught my attention and became as firm a favourite as the raspberry buns.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Years later, when my planned three month trip to the Netherlands to renew my Dutch passport unexpectedly became a more than twenty year residence, my visits to Sydenham Bakery were confined to infrequent visits back to Christchurch, but I was still in the habit of leaving their premises with a purchase of raspberry buns and apricot pies in my hand.

Then the earthquakes came and kept coming… I was as stunned and shocked as all New Zealanders, both at home and abroad. In September 2010 I was relieved that there was no loss of life, In February 2011 I grieved along with the nation as two people I knew perished amongst the 182 fatalities.

Also gone were many of my favourite haunts, and uncertainty reigned about businesses damaged and if they would stay and rebuild or move on to other places.

I contacted Sydenham Bakery via  an internet noticeboard and expressed my hope that they were all ok and wondered if  they intended repairing their damaged premisses:  telling of my fond memories and first pay-packet purchase. To my surprise Celia from Sydenham Bakery contacted me with an invite to visit her next time I was in New Zealand. We’ve been in email contact during the intervening months and set up this appointment.

So here I stand outside the Bakery… so many memories and emotions of past years and recent events, so many of the familiar surrounding buildings have been demolished.  Time to go inside…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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