When I was growing up in Wellington, we spent many holidays in Christchurch, where I live now, because it is where all my father's family lived. We had no car, and not a great deal of money, but an overnight ferry ride took us from one city to the other, we had no accommodation costs, we got to see all our grandmother and all our aunts and uncles, and to revisit all our favourite attractions.
But sometimes it rains, even on holiday, and I remember visiting this building quite often:
Back then, the two buildings which flank it in the photo would not have existed - on the left is the Christchurch Police Station, and in the rear, the Central Post Office, which is no longer a post office, but is being renovated to become the new Civic Buildings. (The mail sorting centre has left the central city for big new premises near the airport).
This door tells the story (sorry, the inscription is not very clear):
though the building is no longer the Public Library, either.
And this is not really a story about my childhood holidays after all, but about something I have noticed about buildings, and their builders. All the modern buildings are labelled in such a way that the sign can easily be removed when the occupants move on, and the building is turned to another purpose. But the Victorians, the makers of this city, were much more confident. It seems they did not envisage a time when their enterprises would fail, and so the buildings are labelled in a much more permanent manner. Some of their institutions survive - they merely outgrew their premises (like the library). Others, like H Pannell's Boot Emporium, have long since ceased to exist. I've been looking for them in the last few months, and photographing them. Here's one of my favourites:
The Christchurch Horse Bazaar (now a restaurant) - an attempt has been made to remove the building's former name, but traces remain.
For more on the "building" theme, visit Carmi at Thematic Photographic