From the first maps of Christchurch, drawn up from our earliest survey work, there had always been Hagley Park – also known as the Government Domain. The name of Hagley had been decided upon to honour the Canterbury Association’s Chairman, Lord George Lyttelton, whose home in England was known as Hagley Lodge.
The park remained quite wild during Christchurch’s first decade – free grazing cattle interrupted the odd cricket match played amongst the swamps, streams and rivers. Hagley Park had been pledged by the Canterbury Provincial Council to be “…forever a public park, and shall be open for the recreation and enjoyment of the public…” which began to take shape during the 1860’s, a one acre swamp in North Hagley Park remained mainly untouched.
In 1897 to help the city celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, it was decided to turn the aforementioned swamp into a lake. Flax, Toi Toi, Cabbage trees and sand were removed to form a four acre (20,000 square metre) lake, it was also later acknowledged that some now extinct flora would have also been removed during this time. It was named Victoria Lake as well as also being referred to as the Victoria Waters. The much smaller lake to the north east was named Lake Albert.
Today, the Lake is the home of the Christchurch Model Yachting Club and for decades it has been used solely for this purpose. The earthquake of February 2011 caused so much damage to the lake that it was drained of all its water. During repairs to the lake bed, 5000 cubic metres of debris was removed. The area was reopened in May 2012 and since then its popularity has only flourished.
*Image courtesy of the Christchurch Public Libraries – http://christchurchcitylibraries.com – File Reference CCL Photo CD 11, IMG0025