SYDENHAM & WALTHAM – Charles Prince (1822 – 1908)

When Charles Prince arrived in Lyttelton in 1858, I’m sure he had no idea that two future suburb names would be influenced by him with very little effort made by him at all.

An ex-school master, Charles seemed to have no plans to follow his previous working path. By 1860, his crockery and china shop named the ‘Sydenham House’ was advertising in the Lyttelton Times. It stood roughly a mile south from the South Belt, now known to us as Moorhouse Ave. Sadly in 1867, he was forced to file for bankruptcy in this venture.

Maybe the fact that Charles also ran a 12 room boarding house just down the road may have helped him stay balanced during this tough time. He named his establishment ‘Waltham House’. It sat on Gasworks Road, now known to us as Waltham Road.

At that time, the city was flooded with working class men, with the promise of work on the railways and in the gasworks which was in its infancy years in New Zealand. The area soon adopted the name of Railway Town and even Lanky Town at times. I guess there was no such thing as a chubby railway worker 😉

In 1866, Charles’ tenants and others decided to pull a joke on their landlord and friend in good humour. They sent in an advertisement (pictured) to THE PRESS that they held a meeting and decided to call the area Waltham after their house. It appeared on the 27th October 1866 and completely backfired. The name stuck and by 1870, the term was a household name.

Charles Allison, a town clerk and surveyor, found his trade and future also in Railway Town. He had arrived in Lyttelton as a 10 year old in 1856. He would go on to become Christchurch’s Mayor, from 1908 to 1910. For some reason, best known to himself, he remembered Charles Prince’s china shop and suggested the name of Sydenham at a borough formation meeting during the late 1870’s. It was agreed upon. Both Sydenham and Waltham joined Christchurch city in 1903.

Some where down the track, Charles Prince and family make the move to America. He buried at Mt Pleasant Old City Cemetery in Iowa, U.S.A.

*image courtesy of the *
*image of Charles Prince’s grave courtesy of *

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