In December 1883, recent arrivals to Christchurch – Captain Clark and an engineer only known as “Somerton” – put their idea to water with the opening of a steam boat service from Market Place (Victoria Square) to New Brighton.
On the Avon, behind the Oxford Hotel (the Oxford on Avon) a landing dock was built after the pair ran successful trials of the service before offering it to the public. The shallow-draught steamer, manufactured right here in Christchurch, was named the ‘Diamond of the Avon’.
But unfortunately, due to little public interest, constant shifting sandbanks and choking weeds that caused many breakdowns, the pair were forced to cut their losses and close down their venture. They packed up their lives, their steamer and moved to the North Island.
Sounds like it would have been a lovely journey to experience though.
Pictured here in 1890, just up river from where the ‘Diamond of the Avon’ would have started from, some boys try their luck fishing with the Oxford Hotel in the background.
*Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library – Boys fishing in the Avon River, Christchurch. Haynes, W (Mrs), fl 1955: Photograph album of photographs taken by C Edwards. Ref: PA1-f-020-12-3. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22470988*