New Zealand’s First Teacher’s College Opened – 15th December 1873

On 15 December 1873, the foundation stone of New Zealand’s first teacher trainee/mainstream school – to be named Normal School – was laid by New Zealand’s Governor, Sir James Fergusson.

A Normal or Model School is a school where trainee teachers can observe a classroom first hand. This was New Zealand’s first Teacher’s College.

It was never an easy road for the Normal School built on the triangle of Kilmore, Montreal and Victoria Streets. As it was the site of one of Christchurch’s first public artesian wells, the area was boggy and difficult to lay foundations in. It was then decided that the facade would face out onto Cranmer Square for appearance sake. This resulted in no sunlight so the classrooms were cold and children were always sent home sick – sometimes with illnesses as serious as Diphtheria.

In 1954, with the opening of Elmwood Normal School, the children were moved on. The trainee teachers stayed on in what was now known as Christchurch Teachers Training College. They moved on to their Ilam site in 1970 leaving the old building empty for its 100th birthday.
With the earthquakes of 2010/11 – Cranmer Courts as the building was now known as – was classified as unliveable. Attempts were made early in 2011 to make the building safe and water proof but the continuous shakes took its toll. The Courts were demolished late 2012.

For a more in depth look at the Cranmer Courts, please check out the following link:

* Image courtesy of The Alexander Turnbull Library – Normal School, Christchurch. Tonks album. Ref: PA1-o-497-17. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

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2 Responses

  1. Gillian says:

    Hi Annette, I am questioning the dates in this article as I started training in 1970 and was in the buildings still standing for 3 years, (and their surrounding buildings and prefabs including Ironside House which is now Spagalemis. we were never in the Normal School that was demolished after the quakes.
    Thanks for sharing once again.

    • Hi Gillian, yes, I understood that by 1970, the college had moved on from Cranmer Square. These old buildings were empty for its 100th year in 1973.

      Were in the heritage building on the corner of Peterborough Street, near the Ironside House?