New Brighton Joined The Greater Christchurch – 1st April 1941

On 1st April 1941, New Brighton joined the Greater Christchurch and came under the care of the C.C.C.

William Free was just 10 years old when he arrived in Lyttelton on the ‘Cressy’, the Canterbury Association’s fourth ship. Ten or so days earlier, William Guise Brittan had arrived on the ‘Randolph’ and took his post at the Land Office. These two settlers would make history again 10 years later in 1860.

Very likely, John Free (William’s father) dealt with William Guise Brittan when he purchased land for the family. The land was beside the sea and with the plans of this stretch of beach becoming a second port; it soon adopted the name of ‘The Punt’. This never came to pass.

In 1860, William Free (who was now 20 years old) was working in a saw-pit on the family’s land when he recognised William Guise Brittan – the Waste Land Commissioner – walking towards them during a visit to the area. Working beside William was Stephen Brooker, who was known to have come from Brighton, England. William scrambled from the pit, grabbing a piece of wood as he went. In chalk, he wrote on it ‘New Brighton’ and stuck it in the sand as a joke. William Guise Brittan saw the sign as he passed and that was that!

This is the most accepted version of the story behind the naming on New Brighton. Some credit of the naming goes to a fella named George Oram who endlessly promoted the area every chance he got. He and his family were in the hotel business and owned many of Christchurch’s earliest pubs and taverns. The area south of Seaview Road (pictured here in the 1920’s) to Union Street was once known as ‘Oramstown’ due to this colourful character being the original land owner there.

*Image courtesy of the Canterbury Public Library – – File Reference CCL Photo CD 12, IMG0006*

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