Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort stepped off the Canterbury Association’s first ship, the ‘Charlotte Jane’ full of ambition and cathedral-sized dreams! Unfortunately for him, Christchurch was nowhere ready for an architect, as experienced as he was. He made his living by selling stationery and giving drawing lessons.
In the late 1850’s Benjamin went into architectural business with his brother-in-law, Isaac Luck. These two would face some of the most exciting projects in the colony to date.
One of Benjamin’s earliest designs was the Canterbury Provincial Chambers in 1855. In 1864, when Benjamin became the official Canterbury Provincial Architect, he was given projects such as the Canterbury Museum, Canterbury College (Arts Centre), Addington Prison, Sunnyside Hospital and St Paul’s Anglican Church in Papanui – just to name a few.
George Gilbert Scott was commissioned to design the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral that was to be built in Ridleys (Cathedral) Square. Benjamin offered his help which George leaped at. He wanted Benjamin to be the supervising architect but was refused by the Anglican Church. A few years and after a few hurdles, Benjamin fully made his entrance into the project.
Unfortunately, the Cathedral would not be finished until 4 years after his death. His son Cecil,also an architect, stepped in and saw the Cathedral completed.
For a more in depth look at Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/benjamin-woolfield-mountfort-1825-1898/