Christchurch’s First Public Well ~ Tuam and High Streets

On the 10th February 1864, work men from the Christchurch City Council were driving a 2 inch thick pipe down into the ground on the corner of Tuam and High Streets looking for water. Although back then, it was the corner of Tuam Street and Ferry Road.

The pipe reached the depth of 25 metres when signs of life began to show. Suddenly the pressure of their find blew water up in the air about 3 metres!

This was to become Christchurch’s first public well. An ornamental pond with a cast-iron fencing was made and this was the water supply for those who had made that part of town home. The well produced 60 gallons (227 Litres) of water per minute.

Just 5 days later, on the 15th February, another well was ‘sunk’ (what an odd term) in Cathedral Square.

Over the next 50 years, more than a thousand artesian wells, including private ones, were made. A few of these went to a depth of 122 metres.
Some of these private wells came to the rescue when neighbouring properties were without water due to the 2010/2011 earthquakes.
During this time, a few stories came out in the papers of privately owned, still functioning artesian wells being used in these smashed up areas.

The first ever well was at the Brewery owned by Mr. R. Taylor, situated where Christchurch Normal School was later built in 1875 – opposite Cranmer Square.
Pipes were driven into the ground to form a staging and water soon found its way into the pipes.

The first public well, at the corner of Tuam and High Streets was closed down and made into a garden in the 1930’s.
This garden still stands in silent testimony to what was once a busy hub of activity, outside what was once Alice In Videoland.

*photo taken by Annette Bulovic*

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