On 21st May 1853, Market Place, now known as Victoria Square held its first market.
As Canterbury Association’s surveyors, Captain Joseph Thomas and Edward Jollie marked out the area that would be Christchurch’s market place, they showed the most amazing ability to look up over the sea of tussock and see what would be. Christchurch was going to be a grand, proud Cathedral based city, and such cities, just like the ones at home in England would hold a weekly market. It would be Christchurch’s earliest form of a backbone.
The first to take advantage of the space were the Ngai Tahu who sold to our settlers, potatoes. It wasn’t until 3rd May 1853 that a public meeting was held to discuss how best to use Market Place.
Well known merchants who businesses we can acknowledge today attended: John Deans (Riccarton), George Gould and John Longden (founders of today’s Pyne Gould Corporation/PGG Wrightson with the latter building the first stage of the Pegasus Arms), William Bray (whose farm is now the suburb of Avonhead) and Daniel Inwood whose flour mill became known as the Carlton Mill (remembered in the naming of the Carlton Corner and Carlton Mill Road). The following was agreed on:
The first Saturday of the month was to be ‘the Great Cattle Day’.
* Vendors were to have their stock in the market by 9am.
* Stall holders selling vegetables, fruit and dairy products were to be set up by 9am.
* All payments were to be made on the delivery of goods.
Around fifty people attended the first market. The big sellers proved to be wheat, barley, potatoes, carrots and butter. Some pigs were also sold.
Pictured here is Market Place in 1863, with what was then the Papanui Bridge over the Avon seen to the left. Further along the Avon, you can make out the Colombo Street Bridge.
*Image courtesy of the Canterbury Public Library – http://christchurchcitylibraries.com – File Reference CCL Photo CD 10, IMG0018