I don’t know about you guys but growing up in Christchurch, the odd substation was an accepted part of every suburb. The ones in Harewood and Bishopdale had M.E.D on them above the doors and I never really understood what these little square buildings really did.
During a history hunt, Chris and I were poking around the old Addington Stockyards on Deans Ave when we came across an old substation with R.B.C above the doors.
Could ‘R’ stand for Riccarton??? So I took a photo and started my search.
Since the beginning of Christchurch in 1850, Riccarton never really did fit in. All of the first maps ended at Hagley Park even though in truth, Riccarton was the first established suburb in Christchurch.
Back then, Riccarton came under the Selwyn District and its Chairman, William Rolleston. The first independent group that was formed to work on the progress of Riccarton was called the Riccarton Road Board.
This was eventually taken over by the Waimari County Council but they had very few fans. The people began to push for Riccarton to become its own borough. The Riccarton Borough Council became a reality in 1913.
The first job on the list was to get rid of the Addington Stockyards from Deans Ave (known then as the West Belt) as livestock was droved in on foot and was dangerous for those caught out on the streets and bad for your garden if you left your front gate open!
The stockyard stood their ground, liking their location as it was near the railway and three main roads.
Interestedly enough, the Deans and Riccarton Bush did not become a part of the borough at the Deans family request. As the Deans had interests in the stockyards, they had to be careful.
History tells us that the Addington Stockyards stayed put and in business for well over 100 years. The very first substation for Riccarton was erected at the stockyards, the very one Chris and I came across
Christchurch was the first city in New Zealand to have electricity and Riccarton played a huge part of that. The Riccarton Borough Council was taken over by the Christchurch City Council in 1989.
*Photo taken by Annette Bulovic*