February 28, 2011

Familiar and unfamiliar

1. I photographed the sign above on my phone in December. It's on Ryan Street, Linwood. The four interlocking NZs are a version, I guess, of the 1974 Commonwealth Games logo -- that year, the games were held in Christchurch -- and I wondered if the sign went up then, as part of a 70s beautification or civic pride project. It seemed like a trace of history in an ordinary suburban street.

To get to Ryan Street, you go along St Martins Road, through Opawa, over the railway tracks, along Ensors Road with that old railway land to your left and AMI Stadium in the distance, left into Ferry Road, past the Edmonds Factory Garden that marks the site of the long demolished Edmonds Factory, then take another left.

On Ryan Street last night, this pile of silt, three metres high:

They say that 30,000 tonnes of silt have been collected so far. There are estimates that 150,000 tonnes of it came up out of the ground last Tuesday. Some of it is muddy grey sludge. Some of it is turning into dust.

The drive back along Ferry Road:

Into Ensors Road:

Improvised signage on St Martins Road:

The story in Beckenham this morning is that two historic churches were pulled down overnight. I had never set foot in either, and indeed both were closed to the public since September and cordoned off, but they were landmarks for generations.

Beckenham was traditionally a lower middle-class suburb in south Christchurch that has gentrified over the past couple of decades. Gentrification is evident in the kinds of shops you see in the recently-opened Beckenham Central shopping centre on the corner of Tennyson Street and Colombo Street: a Pilates workshop, an organic grocer, a children's bookstore. Middle-class pursuits and tastes. The shops survived but the carpark needs work:

Across Colombo Street, a historic stretch of two-story brick shops was badly damaged in the September quake and pulled down more than a month ago. One of the historic stores that still stood took a bigger hit on Tuesday: that orange shape in the picture used to be a verandah on that shop, which has been unoccupied since September.

The first of the two churches to go was the Beckenham Baptist church. It was built in 1930 and had a heritage two listing with the Christchurch City Council (one being the most protected, four the least). It started coming down late yesterday afternoon.

This supermarket on Colombo Street was on fire on Tuesday night and remains closed:

There are makeshift water and supplies depots in carparks along Colombo Street:

The other church to go overnight was older, even more venerable. This intersection of Colombo Street and Brougham Street marks the southern edge of the central city cordon. That pile of rubble in the centre of the picture below used to be the Sydenham Methodist church, a stone gothic church built in 1878 and the heart of the community for close to 100 years (a school and a post office -- long since closed -- stood opposite). In September I wrote a story about how Sydenham, one of the oldest suburbs in Christchurch and long identified with railway workers and left-wing politics, was one of the neglected areas in the post-quake coverage. The Sydenham Heritage Trust was close to fully restoring this church which they had hoped to use as a community centre.