Dr. A.C. Barker (1819 – 1873)

Date and Place of Birth: 5th January 1819 at Hackney, London

Date and Place of Death:  20th March 1873 at Christchurch (from Meningitis) A Canterbury Association Settler:  Arrived on the ‘Charlotte Jane’ – 16th December 1850

Roles in Early Canterbury:

*Surgeon Superintendent on the ‘Charlotte Jane’ *Set up the first Doctor’s surgery in Christchurch – on the corner of Worchester Street and Cathedral Square (the North West corner). *Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. *Member of the Canterbury Provincial Council 1855 – 1857

Barker’s Influence Today:

* Thanks to Dr. A.C. Barker, we have many sketches and photographs of early Christchurch and Canterbury.  It was not unusual to see A.C. out on Christchurch’s streets at dawn as it was more unlikely that someone would walk through his shot at that time of day.

A.C made his first camera at home from a tea chest with blackened paper inside.  For a lens barrel, he used a large pill box, the lid being the shutter.  As his images needed to be processed immediately, he built a darkroom on the back of his horse-drawn buggy.  He took his first photo in 1858.

As he was dying from Meningitis, he bravely took photos of himself so that doctors in the future may learn more about the disease.

Interesting Fact:

As Mrs. Emma Barker was pregnant when the family first arrived in Canterbury, A.C. set her up and his three young boys in accommodation at Sumner.  Every day, after working on setting up a home on his lot of land at the corner of Worchester Street and Cathedral Square, he would walk to Sumner to see his family, usually arriving soaked from continuously slipping into bogs and sinkholes.

On 15th March 1851, under the top sail of the ‘Charlotte Jane’ and surrounded by travel crates and luggage, A.C. delivered his own daughter Elizabeth while a storm raged outside and mud flowed underfoot.  Emma had to hold an umbrella over herself to stay dry during giving birth.

Soon, a lovely house, with a surgery and darkroom included, was built on the site.  In his garden, that flowed west down to Oxford Terrace, grew Christchurch’s second Gum Tree, a feature of many photos that he took around home.  He was very annoyed at the unofficial public track that formed at his front gate as people made a short cut from Cathedral Square to Gloucester Street.  In the 1880’s, this track became known as the Chancery Lane.

Buried:  Barbadoes Street Cemetery, Christchurc

*Photo taken by Annette Bulovic*

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