The Worcester Boulevard Opened – 7th September 1991

As our Canterbury Association surveyors fanned out across the newly named Canterbury Plains during 1849/1850 in their assigned individual explorations, two of those surveyors – Captain Joseph Thomas and Edward Jollie – were pegging out the future site of Christchurch. 

“I am at present surveying the town of Christchurch, which I hope to finish in about three months.  It is situated in a beautiful agricultural district, with a fine stream, called the Avon, running through it,” Jollie wrote on 21st January 1850, from his shanty near the present day intersection of Barbadoes Street and Oxford Terrace. 

He would also later share how the naming of our original streets came about.

“The names of the streets of the three towns [Christchurch, Lyttelton and Sumner] I surveyed were taken from Bishoprics [from Burke’s Passage] and the way it was done was this: as soon as I completed the map I took it to Thomas who putting on his gold spectacles and…read out a Bishop’s name to hear if it sounded well.  If I agreed with him…I put the name to one of the streets requiring baptism”.

And this was how our Worcester Street was named.  The Church of England Diocese of Worcester in the Province of Canterbury, England had been first established in the year 680AD.

The term of ‘Worcester Street’ first appeared in print in a land sale advertisement featured in the Lyttelton Times in 1852. Although the street began as a residential area, it appears that it may have been surveyed with a higher purpose in mind.  A year later in 1853, Canterbury Association’s lawyer, Henry Sewell, wrote in his journal the following…

“We have sketched out in our imagination a handsome central street running through the city, terminated at one end by the college and its gardens – at the other, the Cathedral in the central square”.

This certainly did take a lot of imagination as the Canterbury College (the Arts Centre) would not be started until 1877 and the Anglican Cathedral wasn’t considered completed until 1904.  But clearly, with the planting of the first tree in the Botanical Gardens in 1863 and with the construction of the Canterbury Museum in 1870, the want of a cultural precinct remained close to the surface.

On 7th September 1991, after a three stage revamp of the section of Worcester Street that sat between Durham Street and Rolleston Ave, Worcester Boulevard was officially opened by the Hon. Vicki Buck.  With the repaving of the street, planting of new trees, additions of newly designed street lamps and introduction of the historic trams to this part of the city, the Christchurch City Council felt they were honouring the original intentions of the Canterbury Association – and it worked.

Captain Joseph Thomas and Edward Jollie are remembered by the naming of Thomas and Jollie Streets in Linwood, situated just a block apart from each other.

*Photo taken by Chris Bulovic*
*text taken from the unpublished memoirs of Edward Jollie written between 1872 – 1880 and held by the Alexander Turnbull Library – https://natlib.govt.nz *
*text taken from ‘The Journal of Henry Sewell 1853 – 7’ complied by W. David McIntyre*

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