What a grand moment it would have been for the Canterbury Provincial Council to have opened New Zealand’s first Railway Workshops. The year was 1863 and what an achievement for Christchurch!
These humble beginnings were replaced in 1879 and were known as the Addington Railway Workshops. In its Hey Day, 2000 men were employed there and locomotives, passenger carriages and goods wagons were manufactured there. It’s not hard to imagine that a high pressure water system was needed and in 1883, the Water Tower was built; after all it was the South Island’s biggest industrial concern.
To add to the already impressive history of the area, the tower is one of the world’s first reinforced concrete structures – with the additional use of steel and cast iron. Prison labour was used to build it and before it was finished, the tower had already sunk 9 inches. The tower is 21.9 metres high.
The earthquakes of 2010,2011 and 2012 were not the only dangerous situation that the Addington Water Tower has survived. It first survived the demolition of the workshops in the 1980’s. It was saved to be an additional water supply to the area if ever needed. Its heritage significance seemed to be a very small matter to those involved but today, it proudly reminds us of what once was!
*photo of Addington Water Tower taken by Annette Bulovic*
*photo of Addington Railway Workshops 1947 courtesy of http://transpressnz.blogspot.co.nz*
*photo of the Forge at Addington Railway Workshops courtesy of http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=107428).