The Crystal Palace Opened – 6th April 1918

On 6 April 1918, New Zealand’s first cinema to screen British films, the Crystal Palace, opened in the north side of Cathedral Square. It was also well known for its 32 metre tower that dominated Christchurch’s skyline for 5 decades.

In 1963, the theatre was renamed Carlton Cinema and remained popular into the late 1980’s. With the introduction of cinema multiplexes, the Carlton along with other movie houses in the Square lost business. The Carlton was demolished in 1986 and the group of shops that were built on its site acknowledged its past by being named the Crystal Plaza. The Plaza was badly damaged due to the earthquakes.

Please note the position of the Godley Statue in the attached photo. From 1918 till 1931, the Godley Statue sat beside the Cathedral – where the Citizen’s War Memorial now stands – as its original and current site was needed for a tram shelter.

For a more in depth look at the story of the Crystal Palace, please check out the following link:

*image courtesy of the Auckland City Council – ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R301’

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