Rebuilding the centre


I had a couple of hours to kill when I was in Christchurch last week and decided to do a wee bit to help the economy.

Ballantynes and Cashel Mall between Colombo Street and Oxford Terrace re-opened a couple of weeks ago and it’s looking good.

The photo doesn’t do it justice. There are better ones here. The mall is colourful, welcoming and, most importantly for the locals, feels safe.

The shop at the back is Johnson’s Grocery, relocated from Colombo Street. It’s lighter and more open than the old shop but it’s still got character.

A couple of doors along is Scorpio Books which used to be one of my favourite haunts. It had a particularly good humour section which is wehre I found the complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes. The new container can’t fit the wide selection of books the old shop did but it’s still got the ambience that makes a book-lover feel at home.

Ballantynes which was rebuilt after the fire in 1947 escaped the earthquakes relatively unscathed and looks much as it always did. I told the woman serving me it was great to have the shop back. She replied in heart-felt tones, “It’s great to be back.”

The mall’s not the way it was and there’s still a long way to go but it’s a very good start.

As Student Volunteer Army maestro, Sam Johnson, says: The Christchurch I love is still here.

November 23 in history


On November 23:

1644  Areopagitica, a pamphlet decrying censorship, and written by John Milton was published.

1859 Billy The Kid, American outlaw, was born.

1869  the clipper Cutty Sark was launched – one of the last clippers ever to be built, and the only one still surviving.

1887  Boris Karloff, British actor, was born.

1888 Harpo Marx, American comedian, was born.

1889 The first jukebox went into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.

1936  The first edition of Life was published.

1947 A civic funeral was held for the 41 victims of Ballantynes fire.

1949  Sandra Stevens, British singer, member of pop group Brotherhood of Man, was born.

1955 The Cocos Islands were transferred from the control of the United Kingdom to Australia.

1963 The BBC broadcast the first ever episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell.


The eleven faces of the Doctor
1976 Apneist Jacques Mayol is the first man to reach a depth of 100 m undersea without breathing equipment.
1990 The first all woman expedition to the south pole (3 Americans, 1 Japanese and 12 Russians), set off from Antarctica on the 1st leg of a 70 day, 1287 kilometre ski trek.
1992  Miley Cyrus, American actress and singer/songwriter, was born.
1993  Rachel Whiteread won both the £20,000 Turner Prize award for best British modern artist and the £40,000 K Foundation art award for the worst artist of the year.
Whiteread’s House.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.

November 18 in history


On November 18:

326 The old St. Peter’s Basilica was consecrated

1477  William Caxton produced Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres, the first book printed on a printing press in England.


Caxton showing the first specimen of his printing to king Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.
1626 St. Peter’s Basilica was consecrated.
A very detailed engraved image of a vast interior. The high roof is arched. The walls and piers which support the roof are richly decorated with moulded cherubim and other sculpture interspersed with floral motifs. Many people are walking in the church. They look tiny compared to the building. 
1785  David Wilkie, British artist, was born.
1836  Sir William S. Gilbert, British dramatist, was born.
1836  Cesare Lombroso, Italian psychiatrist and founder of criminology, was born.
1861  Dorothy Dix, pseudonym of US journalist Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer, was born.
1874 The Cospatrick caught fire off the coast of South Africa en route to New Zealand, killing 470 people.

1903 The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed by the United States and Panama, giving the United States exclusive rights over the Panama Canal Zone.

1916 : First Battle of the Somme ended when British Expeditionary Force commander Douglas Haig called off the battle which started on July 1, 1916.

1918  Latvia declared its independence from Russia

1926 George Bernard Shaw refused to accept the money for his Nobel Prize, saying, “I can forgive Alfred Nobel for inventing dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.”

1928 The release of the animated short Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, featuring the third appearances of cartoon stars Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. This is also considered by the Disney corporation to be Mickey’s birthday.

1939 Margaret Atwood, Canadian writer, was born.

1942  Susan Sullivan, American actress, was born.

1947 The Ballantyne’s Department Store fire, Christchurch, New Zealand, killed 41 people.

1963 The first push-button telephone went into service.
1978 Jim Jones led his Peoples Temple cult in a mass murder-suicide that claimed 918 lives in all, 909 of them at Jonestown itself, including over 270 children.
1983  Jon Johansen, Norwegian software developer, was born.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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