New Zealand’s Oldest Sports Building Is Built – 1864

On the day that Christchurch and Canterbury turned one year old (16th December 1851), the undeveloped area known as Hagley Park was a small hive of activity.  An event that would later become the ‘Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Show Day’ (A & P Show) made it humble debut, our settlers bringing fruit, vegetables and other items to sell in celebration of our first anniversary day.   It was a flop!

The second attempt a year later proved to be much popular, all kinds of hoof stock and people’s specialised trades on sale and display and ‘The Show’ has never looked back!

In another area of Hagley Park, the members of the newly formed ‘Christchurch Cricket Club’ were getting together to enjoy an anniversary cricket match.  The men that gathered to play were the likes of John Robert Godley (Canterbury’s Founder), William Deans (the suburb of Riccarton is named his farm), Christopher Charles Bowen (a politician that was the driving force behind free education of all New Zealand children) and William Guise Brittan (named the suburb of New Brighton).  The two teams were ‘Married/Single Men’ versus the ‘Working Men’.  From this early game, the area became known as the Hagley Oval.

The ‘Christchurch Cricket Club’ had been established on 21st June 1851 and quickly gained popularity.  It was very popular amongst the members of the Canterbury Provincial Council and Christchurch’s Members of Parliament.

In 1864, a timber building – known as ‘Canterbury Cricket Umpire Association Pavilion’ – was erected on the cricket grounds.  It had been built in preparation of an upcoming up match with England.  Although we lost the match, praises were given from the British concerning the fine and modern pavilion which housed changing facilities, a communal area, a viewing balcony and an open verandah.  It was moved to the Hagley Oval two years later and delightfully remains part of the grounds; even with this recent upgrade done for the Cricket World Cup 2015.

Altered and restored over the years and after being saved from demolition, this structure is now New Zealand’s oldest sports building, some even stating it is the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere.

*Photos taken by Annette Bulovic*



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