2014. What a year!

As another year comes to an end, we present you with a selection of our favourite sites, discoveries and archaeology moments from 2014. It’s been a good year.

We did a lot of digging….

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So much mud. Image: H. Williams.

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Our biggest site of the year, this excavation yielded over a hundred boxes of artefacts and almost two hundred archaeological features, including the industrial complex being excavated in this photo. Image: H. Williams.

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In July, we got to spend a weekend out in Akaroa working on the French Farm homestead, built in the 1840s by French settlers. You can read more about the history of the house and our initial impressions of the archaeology here and here. Image: K. Watson.

Digging, digging, digging. So much digging.

Digging, digging, digging. So much digging. Image: K. Bone.

…and recording.

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Drawing and recording a brick floor excavated in Christchurch’s central city. Image: H. Williams.

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Kirsa recording the French Farm site, using a theodolite to create a survey plan, while the rest of us drew elevations of the building itself. Image: K. Watson.

One of the elevation drawings of the French Farm building.  Image: L. Tremlett.

One of the elevation drawings of the French Farm building. Image: L. Tremlett.

While recording this Lyttelton house, built in the 1850s, we found this handwritten note fragment on one of the interior wall boards. We're not entirely sure what it says, but it's something about Hokitika. Image: K. Webb.

While recording this Lyttelton house, built in the 1850s, we found this handwritten note fragment on one of the interior wall boards. We’re not entirely sure what it says (something about Hokitika), but it’s pretty fantastic. Image: K. Webb.

We found some cool things…

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An industrial complex on Lichfield Street, constructed from 19th century bricks. It’s pretty rare for us to find such substantial floors and foundations from long demolished buildings, so this was a pretty cool find. Image: H. Williams.

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The floor and foundations of an 1850s business, found on Cashel Street, another rare find for us. During our research on this site, we found a story about the owner opening a bar on the section, which he named ‘The Blighted Cabbage’ in response to the Mr William ‘Cabbage’ Wilson’s strenuous objections to the very same establishment. An excellent name for a bar. Image: K. Bone.

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This epic barrel-lined well was one of the more notable ones we excavated this year. It’s also the deepest, extending down to 3.8 metres below the ground surface. You can just make out the barrel timbers at the base of the feature, where two barrels were stacked on top of each other, with a length of iron pipe extending down through them into the water bearing alluvial gravel strata below. A limestone block was also found at the base, evidently functioning as a filter for the water. Image: H. Williams.

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We found this hundred and thirty five year old footprint in concrete foundations (poured in 1879). We worked out that it’s the equivalent of a modern men’s size 9 (American): it probably belonged to one of the workers on the site. Image: L. Tremlett.

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One of the absolute coolest finds of the year, a clay smoking pipe shaped like a skull and complete with bright blue glass eyes. The pipe resembles a style of decoration that was particularly popular in France in the latter half of the 19th century. Image: C. Dickson.

Artefacts

A (very) small selection of some of the exciting things we’ve found this year, including an immense number of shoes and hats, lovely transfer printed ceramics, children’s artefacts, books, bottles and clay pipes. Image: J. Garland.

During analysis of a time capsule that we found last year, we discovered this beautifully preserved

During analysis of a time capsule that we found last year, we discovered this beautifully preserved notice detailing the laying of the very foundation stone in which we found the capsule. It certainly doesn’t look 120 years old! Image: J. Garland.

Definitely the oldest thing we've found this year, this 1825 Georgian shilling was found at an 1850s house site on Cashel Street. Image: J. Garland.

Definitely the oldest thing we’ve found this year, this 1825 Georgian shilling was found at an 1850s business site on Cashel Street. Image: J. Garland.

Some of us also mucked about in boats…

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One of our team was lucky enough to complete an archaeological survey of the Lyttelton Port, finding over sixty archaeological sites and getting to spend some time out on the water. Image: M. Carter.

…built the occasional box-fort…

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As it happens, the box-fort around my desk functions as an excellent defensive fortress in the nerf-gun wars that frequently take hold of the office. Image: J. Garland.

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This is actually more of a box-maze, constructed from all the boxes of artefacts we’ve found and/or analysed this year, but it’s still impressive (and a little terrifying, if you’re the artefact analyst!). It also provides an excellent defensive position from which to leap out and startle people. Image: J. Garland.

… and made friends with some animals.

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Chelsea having a conversation with a feline visitor to one of our sites. Honestly, the cat doesn’t look that impressed with whatever it is that she’s saying. Image: J. Hughes.

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Cows! Also not looking impressed. Image: K. Bone.

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This curious chicken followed Kim around site one day. Image: K. Bone.

All things considered, it’s been a busy year. Frankly, we’re exhausted.

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See? Totally shattered. Image: C. Dickson.

Thank goodness it’s the holidays. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all!

We’ll see you again in February 2015.

The Underground Overground team

  The team at Underground Overground Archaeology Ltd

Raining soda water in Christchurch!

In 1861, the city of Christchurch would have been virtually unrecognisable to a 21st century resident. Buildings were scattered sparsely throughout what is now the central business district and dirt roads and low fences traversed a landscape that was more grassland than city. Twenty, or even ten, years later, that landscape would change so much as to be unrecognisable, with substantial buildings filling the empty paddocks and replacing many of the early, more ramshackle, wooden structures of the 1850s and 1860s. During these ‘frontier’ years of Christchurch’s existence, a number of small businesses sprang up around the place, some of which didn’t last much past the settlement’s transition from frontier to something more permanent. One such business was the soda water manufactory of Thomas ‘Gingerpop’ Raine, an early Christchurch entrepreneur whose soda bottles we often find on archaeological sites throughout the city.

Thomas Raine's premises on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace in the 1860s. Image: Andersen 1949, p. 305.

Thomas Raine’s premises on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace in the 1860s. Image: Andersen 1949: 305.

Thomas Raine arrived in Christchurch in the 1850s and promptly set himself up in business as a manufacturer of soda water, ginger beer and lemonade. His first business appears to have been on the corner of Peterborough and Gloucester streets where, drawing on his prior experience as a soda water manufacturer in England, he operated from 1859 until 1860 in partnership with Walter Gee (Lyttelton Times 17/10/1860: 7). One interesting advertisement in the newspaper notes that the duo used the Samson Barnett Soda Water Engine, an apparatus invented by engineer Samson Barnett (otherwise known for his development of diving equipment; Lyttelton Times 15/09/1860: 8). The partnership ended with some animosity (or at least, that’s what the papers suggest; Lyttelton Times 7/10/1860: 7, 5/03/1862: 6, Press 8/03/1862: 8).

1862 drawing of the Samson Barnett Soda Water Engine.

1862 drawing of the Samson Barnett Soda Water Engine. Image: International Exhibition of 1862: 3.

After continuing on his own, Thomas Raine handed the business down to his son, Thomas Raine Jr., in 1866 (Lyttelton Times 9/01/1866: 1). Things deteriorated rather rapidly after this, as Raine Jr. appears to have been a terrible businessman, eventually declaring himself bankrupt (for which he was later confined to prison and tried in court) in 1869 (Press 26/10/1869: 3Star 11/01/1870: 2). Thomas Raine Jr. seems to have had quite the troubled life, actually: his father took his business partner to court in 1872, he himself was taken to court by his wife for being a ‘habitual’ drunkard in 1874 and he eventually died after drinking almost an entire bottle of ‘spirits of wine’ (equivalent to two bottles of whisky) in 1886 (Star 20/08/1874: 2Timaru Herald 5/03/1872: 2, 5/06/1886: 3).

We find Thomas Raine soda water bottles relatively frequently on sites in Christchurch, usually embossed with “T. RAINE, SODA WATER MANUFACTURER, CHRISTCHURCH NZ.” This mark is found exclusively on ‘torpedo’ shaped bottles, due to the early date of Raine’s business: other, more elaborate, forms of soda water bottle (such as the Codd patent) weren’t invented until the early – mid 1870s, after Raine went out of business. As such, they can be quite useful dating tools for us, depending on the context in which they were found (i.e. discrete undisturbed deposits vs rubbish scatters): as you’d expect, they’re often found on sites in association with households or businesses dating to the 1860s and 1870s.

Thomas Raine embossed torpedo bottle found on a residential site on Armagh Street this year. Image: J. Garland.

Thomas Raine embossed torpedo bottle found on a residential site on Armagh Street this year. Image: J. Garland.

So far, we’ve found T. Raine bottles all over the city, from residential sites to hotels to commercial sites. There doesn’t appear to be any discrimination in the types of households or businesses buying Raine’s products: we’ve found them on the sites of affluent households and in association with less obviously wealthy assemblages. They would have originally contained a variety of soda waters: Raine was known for manufacturing gingerade, lemonade and ‘raspberryade’, the first of which likely led to his ‘Gingerpop’ nickname (Lyttelton Times 3/09/1859: 8).  Interestingly, one account of Raine’s business suggests that he “did not confine himself to beverages of his own manufacture”, which implies – true or not, I have no idea – that he passed other people’s soda off as his own (alternatively, he may simply have contracted others to brew for him; Andersen 1949: 305).

Advertisemet for Thomas Raine's soda water business. Image:

Advertisemet for Thomas Raine’s soda water business. Image: Lyttelton Times 3/09/1859: 8.

Thomas Raine’s story is also of interest to those of you curious about the way Christchurch evolved over the early decades, from a spatial and nomenclature perspective (this has been a recurring theme here on the blog recently). He was a resident of New Brighton for much of the 1860s and 1870s and owned large amounts of the land out there, including the land on which QEII park is now built (Christchurch City Libraries Blog 2011). During those early decades, it seems, the suburb was somewhat sparsely settled and – like Oxford Terrace – would have been unrecognisable to the modern Christchurch resident. The area was split into two ‘neighbourhoods’, named Oramstown (after George Oram, proprietor of the Clarendon Hotel) and Rainestown, after the Raine family (Christchurch City Libraries Blog 2011,Star 8/05/1896:2). There are several advertisements in the local newspaper during the 1870s, in which Thomas Raine offers large sections of land for sale (Press 28/02/1874:1). It wasn’t until after these sections were sold and more people began to settle out there, that the area began to take on the shape of the New Brighton that we recognise today.

Thomas Raine died in 1907, surviving his wife by two months. He is buried in the Barbadoes Street cemetery, where he shares his rest with many of Christchurch’s other early residents and entrepreneurs. And, although ‘Rainestown’ has long since faded from our collective memory, the legacy of ‘Gingerpop’ Raine lives on in the torpedo bottles we now find in the ground all over the city.

 “ You’ve a Taylor for a brewer!
For that he’s none the worse;
And if you want a vehicle
You go unto a Nurse!
You’ve a Fisher for a grocer
Residing in this quarter!
And strange as it may seem, from Raine
We get good soda water.”
- R. Thatcher, cited in Andersen 1949: 308

Jessie Garland

References

Andersen, J. C., 1949. Old Christchurch in Picture and Story. Simpson and Williams Ltd., Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries Blog, 2011. [online] Available at www.cclblog.wordpress.com

Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Press. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Star. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Timaru Herald. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Coffee: nemesis of tea, friend to chicory, moral downfall of sheep and lifeblood of archaeologists

It must be said that, here at Underground Overground Archaeology, we have something of a coffee problem. With a (very) few exceptions we’re an office of hardened coffee drinkers, ranging from one-cup-a-day habits to the occasional and somewhat obscene four-or-five-cups-a-day problem. We frequent our local coffee shop (the fantastic Vivace on Tuam Street) so much that the staff sort of just laugh kindly at us when we come in and order more coffee (and muffins!) than one office should reasonably be expected to consume. On the rare and terrible mornings when someone discovers that the coffee is, in fact, all gone, the discovery is met with a chorus of despair and rapid scramble to “get coffee, get coffee, get coffee”, lest we release the ravening caffeine deprived beast lurking within us all.

Everyday is a job for coffee.

Everyday is a job for coffee in this office. Image: Imgarcade

It’s a problem. Not an uncommon one in modern society, though, is it? A caffeine addiction seems almost par for the course in today’s bustling workplaces and busy lives. Coffee drinking is everywhere and with it comes the rise of coffee cultures, from the social and economic ubiquity of Starbucks to the hordes of hipsters congregating in fair trade organic coffee houses.

It’s not, however, an exclusively modern phenomenon, as many might assume. We tend, I think, to imagine tea as the hot beverage of choice in Victorian society and it was, just not exclusively so. Coffee, and the ritual of coffee drinking, was also a well-established part of 19th century life. Coffee houses (or ‘palaces’) were not uncommon establishments in major cities: in Christchurch over the years the city saw the Victoria Coffee House and Reading Room in Lyttelton, the Avon Bank Coffee House, the Old Post Office Coffee House and Uncle Tom’s Coffee House on High Street, among others. There were even coffee carts! Interestingly, as an aside, most of these houses appear to have offered food and sometimes lodging as well, with a notable number also involved in the temperance movement of the late 19th century (Lyttelton Times 19/12/1860: 6, 14/12/1861: 1, 21/12/1861: 1).

Coffee jacket and advertisement for the Victoria Coffee House in Lyttelton. Image

Coffee jacket and advertisement for the Victoria Coffee House in Lyttelton. Image: New Zealand Herald 13/06/1903: 6 and Lyttelton Times 8/07/1857: 8.

Along with the coffee houses, numerous articles can be found in contemporary newspapers on the subject of coffee drinking in 19th century society. Some discuss the proper preparations for a cup of coffee, the best culinary accompaniments and how to distinguish the good coffee from the bad. Others mention the names of famous people who swore by the drink, from Voltaire to Frederick the Great, in addition to numerous accounts of the benefits and the dangers of coffee consumption. In fact, in some sources, discussions and accounts of coffee and those who drank it are all but indistinguishable from similar discussions in the modern media (including an article on guarana as a rival to coffee, for all you V & Red Bull drinkers out there).

A selection of historical articles on coffee. Images:

A selection of historical articles on coffee. Images: Auckland Star 28/06/1916: 8Bruce Herald 8/11/1889: 5, 1/08/1899: 2Star 1/04/1905: 3, Taranaki Herald 29/05/1891: 4

Coffee, the moral downfall of Abyssinian sheep. Image:

Coffee, the moral downfall of Abyssinian sheep. Image: Evening Post 23/06/1923: 23.

On the other hand, the article suggesting that the ingestion of coffee plants led to the moral downfall of previously sober and well-conducted Abyssian sheep is perhaps more obviously a product of its time (I could not make that up, I swear). The same goes for the article discussing coffee as a substitute afternoon drink for the “once common absinthe”, or the one comparing the “muddy and yellowish” skin of coffee drinkers to the “withered, dried up and old look” given to tea drinkers. Another description of coffee drinkers employed the terminology of ‘coffee drunkeness’ and ended with a statement many modern coffee dependents may identify with:  “the victims suffered so seriously they dared not abandon the drinking of coffee for fear of death” (Mataura Ensign 8/10/1896: 4).

Article on 'coffee drunkenness' from 1896. Image:

Article on ‘coffee drunkenness’ from 1896. Image: Mataura Ensign 8/10/1896: 4.

In all seriousness, though, it’s clear from historical sources that coffee drinking was a common habit in 19th century Christchurch, and one not so far removed from modern culture as we might think. It’s interesting, then, to see how it is represented in the archaeological record (and to think about how it might be represented today). As with so many other consumables, coffee is only visible indirectly through the various objects used to store, prepare and drink it in the past, and the places (specifically, coffee houses) at which it was consumed. We haven’t yet excavated the site of any coffee houses in the city, so in Christchurch, our evidence seems to come down to two types of objects: coffee cups, or ‘cans’ as they are known, and coffee and chicory bottles.

Coffee cans are mug-like ceramic drinking vessels, with straight sides and lower, flatter bases than teacups, made from porcelain or earthenware. They’re predominantly associated with coffee drinking from the late 18th century onwards (Brooks 2005): advertisements from the Victorian era make special reference to coffee cups as an item distinct from tea cups and saucers (Lyttelton Times 14/11/1857: 7, Observer 22/08/1885: 4). Here in Christchurch, we find them in a variety of sizes, although they have a tendency to be larger than tea wares. They’re often decorated with transfer prints, sponged decoration or gilt banding, although they’re less likely to be found as part of an identically patterned set than teacups (this may be in part because coffee cans don’t seem to have had accompanying saucers).

A ceramic coffee can found in Christchurch. Image: J. Garland.

A ceramic coffee can found in Christchurch. Image: J. Garland.

When viewed from a broad perspective, coffee cans indicate a very clear delineation between the rituals of tea drinking and the ritual of coffee drinking. They suggest (through the quantities found on sites) that, however popular it was, coffee drinking remained less common than tea drinking in the 19th century. They may, eventually, be able to provide us with some indication of the types of people drinking coffee: whether they were predominantly male or female, if age or national origin was a factor or if class and social status played a part. As individual objects, however, coffee cans don’t actually tell us a whole lot, other than indicating the probable presence of a coffee drinker in a household. They certainly don’t tell us much about the ways in coffee was prepared or drunk (i.e. at breakfast, in social gatherings), or the types of coffee consumed by people in 19th century Christchurch.

In fact, there’s little in the way of archaeological information on the types of coffee available to the 19th century consumer, although there’s a surfeit of brands and types listed and advertised in the historical record. Historical examples include beans and grounds, sold by brands like Crease’s A1 Coffee, Webster’s Coffee, Dragon Coffee or Brown, Barrett & Co’s Excelsior Coffee. By contrast, the only archaeological evidence for the coffee itself comes from the coffee and chicory bottles occasionally found in Christchurch (and elsewhere).

Symington's coffee & chicory bottle found in Christchurch. Image: J. Garland.

Symington’ & Co’s coffee & chicory bottle found in Christchurch. Image: J. Garland.

Coffee and chicory was an essence, sold as thick syrup and used as a form of instant coffee during the 19th and early 20th centuries (Christchurch City Libraries 2014). The chicory, a plant root, was used to augment the bitter ‘coffee’ taste of the syrup, and the concoction appears to have been relatively popular in its time. Chicory was not always easy to come by in New Zealand: most of it was actually grown here in Canterbury and supplied to the rest of the country (Thames Star 25/01/1893: 4). Interestingly, most of the coffee and chicory bottles we find on Christchurch sites were produced by Symington & Co, an Edinburgh based company, rather than local chicory farmers such as Mr. W. Roberts, who owned the Canterbury Chicory Works in Lincoln, or Edwin Trent, based in Templeton (of Trent Brothers fame). As it turns out, people in other parts of the country turned to other ingredients when they couldn’t get their hands on chicory, local or international: unfortunately, in one case, the substitute used turned out to be turnip (Thames Star 25/01/1893: 4). Coffee and turnip? Mmm, no thanks.

Workers on Mr W. Roberts' chicory farm, Spreydon, 1905. Image: Christchurch City Libraries

Workers on Mr W. Roberts’ chicory farm, Spreydon, 1905. Image: Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference: PhotoCD 10, IMG0037 

All things considered, it seems that despite the use of such unconventional flavour supplements (and the apparent Victorian concern with the moral welfare of sheep), it’s not difficult to find parallels between the culture of coffee drinking in 19th century Christchurch and that of the present day. In fact, there’s far more of them than I was expecting when I first started looking into this. Coffee houses are a common and integral part of our everyday lives here and now and we regularly see headlines and articles debating the health benefits of coffee, the best techniques for its preparation and the characteristics of a good flat white or cappuccino. We still have specific cups from which to sip our delicious caffeinated beverages and, while chicory is no longer a common addition, some of us still take great delight in adding various flavoured syrups to our coffee. And, no doubt, much of the information available on the subject in the modern media will be as entertaining to future archaeologists and historians as the Victorian newspapers have been for me.

Jessie Garland

References

Ashburton Guardian. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Auckland Star. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Brooks, A., 2005. An Archaeological Guide to British Ceramics in Australia: 1788-1901.  The Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology, Sydney.

Bruce Herald. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Christchurch City Libraries, 2014. Chicory: an early Christchurch industry. [online] Available at www.christchurchcitylibraries.com

Evening Post. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Mataura Ensign. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

New Zealand Herald. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Observer. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Star. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

If the boot fits, wear it

My passion is anything and everything to do with archaeology. So when I was given the opportunity to be an intern at Underground Overground Archaeology Ltd., I jumped at this chance of a lifetime! My name is Jessica Hofacher and I am a year 13 student at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery Secondary School. Next year I will be pursuing my passions by studying archaeology at the University of Otago. This year I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Gateway (work experience) program and be taken on by this remarkable company!

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An interesting perspective on archaeology. Image: Myer 2012.

Over the last 10 months I have been researching and compiling an information database for the types of shoes available in Christchurch in the 1800s. I did this by searching through old newspapers (available on Papers Past) for information on the styles of shoes available, the people selling them, the methods of manufacture used to make them and the amount of money they cost.

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Lace-up lady’s ankle boots, with a military stacked heel and machine stitching along the vamp, tip and back quarter of the upper, c.1900-1920. Photo: J. Garland.

I was asked to research using this method so I could get an understanding of the advantages of this process and also how time-consuming it can be. It was very effective at producing an enormous amount of data, but it also means that it takes a very long time to process and sort through all the information! And I mean a veeeeery long time! To research what shoes were available in Christchurch in the 1850s to the end of the 1870s, who sold them and for how much and what methods of manufacture were used, I had to sort through hundreds of advertisements from the Lyttelton Times, Press, Timaru Herald, Star and the Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsular Advertiser, which took me eight months of Wednesdays!

This topic is very important to archaeologists in Christchurch because not much information is known about shoes in this context.

Footwear remains a neglected artefact despite its common occurrence on … historical sites… when considering artefacts in historical archaeology we think immediately of tea cups, medicine bottles and clay pipes. It is important however to consider artefacts other than those that appear in abundance such as ceramic and glass… one category which has received scant consideration by archaeologists is leather footwear… footwear is only occasionally referred to in site reports and typically only in a brief and non-analytical manner.” (Veres 2005:89)

My research is important to the team working here because when a shoe is found in a Christchurch site, they can look at my information database and deduce “Okay, this style of shoe was not available in Christchurch before this date so this shoe (and assemblage) must date to a point after this date” or “This style of shoe was sold in Christchurch for this amount of money in 1864 which shows the inhabitants of this site could have been fairly well off.”

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Image: Lyttelton Times 13/8/1853: 11.

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Lyttelton Times 13/08/1853: 11

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Image: Lyttelton Times 17/1/1852: 2.

An interesting trend I found in the data was how many shoe businesses were in Lyttelton in the 1850s. In the years 1852, 1853, 1854 and 1856, there were seven shoe businesses in Lyttelton! Three, possibly four were on London Street, two were on Canterbury Street and the other one was on Oxford Street. This means that within five years of European settlement, Lyttelton had seven potential places you could go to purchase shoes. This is a lot considering most shopping precincts these days (excluding malls) have only one -maybe two – shops that sell shoes.

It makes me ask the question, ‘how many people were living in Lyttelton and the surrounding area at that time, that it warranted having so many businesses to manufacture shoes?’ Lyttelton was the main port for import and export in Christchurch so in one way the abundance of businesses makes sense. But if you consider that nearly all of these businesses were manufacturing their own shoes, then the port doesn’t really play much of a role in supplying them with imported stock. These little insights into the urban layout of Canterbury regions are very special because it allows us to imagine what it was like to be a part of the community at that time. It also allows us to speculate on the type of people who owned these businesses and why, and the kinds of people who were buying from them (based on what types of shoes were being sold).

One such business was ‘West End House’ on London Street, Lyttelton, owned by Thomas and Robert Shalders. This is completely my speculation and personal opinion (based on what I’ve read so far) but I’m sure if more research was done much information such as this could be found out. Thomas and Robert Shalders were brothers who in 1853 opened a business where they could sell their wares, called West End House (Lyttelton Times 13/8/1853:11). This business may have been the beginning of their adult life as shoe manufacturers, which I’m sure they hoped would turn into a successful career, perhaps one that would support their wives and young families. They were not restricted to making and selling shoes for only one demographic, so patrons of all ages could satisfy their soles’ with strong and stolid shoes.

My time spent at UOA has been immensely enjoyable and very informative. I’ve found things out about what it’s like to have a career as an archaeologist that I could not have discovered any other way. The team here has given me insights and advice about studying at Otago, what courses will be useful for me and about how to get where I want to be in my future career. Not only have I found things out about what it’s like to be an archaeologist, I have been able to experience what it’s like working as one! My research project has given me an insight into information about Christchurch’s past that I never would have thought to look at on my own. Completing my research was like being transported back in time 164 years and personally speaking with the residents of Christchurch. It was the experience of a lifetime.

Jessica Hofacher

References

Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.

Myer.G-C, 2012. The Lascaux Review. [online] Available at: http://redtreetimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/9911-262-archaeology-rainbows-end-small.jpg [Accessed 7 November 2014].

Veres, M., 2005. Introduction to the analysis of archaeological footwear. Australasian Historical Archaeology 23: 89-96.

A tale of two suburbs: the story (and the man) behind the naming of Sydenham and Waltham

Should you have been so fortunate, while wandering the streets of 1860s Christchurch, to find yourself north of the square, you may have come across an establishment bearing the name of Sydenham House and containing within its walls all manner of treasures. Stepping inside, you would have been surrounded by an elegant assortment of glass and china, exotic oranges, lemons and pineapples and a few choice canaries, fowls and prize-winning birds of all kinds. You may even have caught a glimpse of the proprietor, Mr Charles Prince, a man of excellent taste and education and the eventual, unintentional, inspiration for the naming of two of Christchurch’s southern suburbs.

Colombo Street between Gloucester and Armagh in 1882. Sydenham house would have stood in the block on the left of the image, between the Golden Fleece hotel and Gloucester Street. Image:

Colombo Street between Gloucester and Armagh in 1882. Sydenham House would have stood in the block on the left of the image, between the Golden Fleece Hotel and Gloucester Street. Image: Burton Brothers, via Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0050.

We first came across the story of Charles Prince and Sydenham House earlier in the year, when we found an artefact – a double handled serving bowl – from Sydenham House on a site elsewhere in the central city. It was found blocks away from the actual location of the china shop (between Armagh and Gloucester on Colombo Street), and the bowl was marked with the name of the manufacturer (Copeland), a pattern registration diamond (with a registration date of 17th or 27th September 1861) and a banner bearing the words “Sydenham House, Christchurch, C. Prince”. As we researched the bowl and the maker’s mark, we found ourselves unravelling the tale of Charles Prince, a shopkeeper, bird importer and teacher who had a hand in naming the Christchurch suburbs of Waltham and Sydenham, through his residence and business respectively.

This piece is particularly interesting, marked as it is with 'Sydenham House, Christchurch' on the base, along with the name of the manufacturer (Copeland) and pattern registration diamond. Image: J. Garland.

The handled serving bowl bearing the mark of Sydenham House. The registration diamond indicates that this pattern was registered in 1861 (R in the top corner), on the 17th or 27th (number in the right corner) of September (D in the left corner). The pottery manufacturer, Copeland, was in business from 1847 until well into the 20th century (The Potteries 2014). Image: J. Garland.

Charles Prince arrived in Christchurch in 1858 on the Zelandia, having previously been the principal of the Classical School of Westbury East in St Kilda and the master of Grays Grammar School in England (Christchurch City Libraries 2014). On or soon after his arrival in New Zealand, he appears to have formed one half of the partnership of Prince and Dawes, with a man named Edmund Marriott Dawes, although this was broken in 1861 (Lyttelton Times 24/04/1861: 8). Sydenham House was in operation from at least 1860, and Prince continued as proprietor of the shop until 1867, when he went bankrupt and the business was sold (Christchurch City Libraries 2014; Lyttelton Times 2/04/1867: 2).

Prince also continued his calling as a schoolmaster, filling the role of master of the Christchurch Commercial School in the 1860s in addition to founding the private Christchurch Commercial Academy in 1860, with the intention of “embracing every branch of a sound English and Commercial education” (Lyttelton Times 8/09/1860: 1). Until his bankruptcy in 1867, he also lived in a large – twelve roomed! – house known as Waltham House, “pleasantly situated in Colombo Street south, within a mile of the Town Belt (Moorhouse Ave)” (Lyttelton Times 9/03/1867: 3). The size of the house alone suggests that he was a relatively successful and affluent man – at least until he went bankrupt.

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Advertisement for birds and dogs sold at Sydenham House in 1864. Image: Lyttelton Times 10/09/1864:6.

He was known, not only as an educator and a retailer of assorted finery, but also as an importer and keeper of prize-winning birds (Press 10/09/1866: 2, Lyttelton Times 10/09/1866: 2). Many of the advertisements for Sydenham House and mentions of Charles Prince in contemporary newspapers make reference to his birds, some of which won prizes at local A & P shows (my favourites are the excellently named dorking fowls!). After he went bankrupt in 1867, Prince ended up on the West Coast, where he remained traceable in the newspapers of the time due to his occupation as a schoolmaster and, amusingly, to his reputation as a bird fancier, with one article stating that he has “become prominent by his expenditure and taste in the purchase of poultry” (Grey River Argus 15/03/1873: 2, 13/05/1873: 3). Another West Coast newspaper recounted an incident in which he ran afoul of some erstwhile avian burglars who allegedly absconded with a pair of ‘Bramah’ chickens (although the article does also suggest that the birds might just have run away…; Grey River Argus 4/11/1872: 2).

However, bird burglars aside, it’s Charles Prince’s time in Christchurch that is most of interest to us today, specifically his time as proprietor of Sydenham House and resident of Waltham House. Sydenham House is described in contemporary accounts as a building “containing eight rooms, a coach house, stables, a shop and store” and was sandwiched between G. Coate’s watchmaking and jewellery store and Miss Phillip’s drapery (Lyttelton Times 16/04/1867: 6). As well as birds (and dogs!) the store appears to have sold all manner of goods, from fancy glass wares (including cake shades, decanters and custard glasses) to all manner of china (“breakfast, tea, dinner, dessert and toilet services”) and household accoutrements (candlesticks, lamps and toilet boxes; Lyttelton Times 28/09/1861: 510/09/1862: 6). He also sold local and exotic delicacies, from “Canterbury grown walnuts” to pineapples, which can’t have been a common foodstuff in 19th century Christchurch (Lyttelton Times 22/03/1862: 5, 23/04/1862: 5).

Advertisement for Sydenham House from

Advertisement for Sydenham House from 1862, listing all kinds of treasures for sale. Image: Lyttelton Times 10/09/1862: 6.

The establishment also functioned as a boarding house,  with a variety of tenants, including a French teacher, a writing teacher and a professor of phrenology (Lyttelton Times 30/01/1866: 3, 15/09/1866: 1, 14/02/1867: 7). This last, Mr A. S. Hamilton, was available for consultation at Sydenham House, describing himself as “twenty eight years [a] Practical Phrenologist in England, Ireland, and Scotland, and the Australian Colonies… [who] may be consulted [for] delineations of characters and advice for direction, correction and profitable application of the mental powers” (Lyttelton Times 14/02/1867: 7). I’m not sure of the efficacy of Mr Hamilton’s advice, but I know that I could definitely use some help with the “profitable application of the mental powers” this morning…

Colombo Street between Armagh and Gloucester in the 1880s. Sydenham House would originally have stood on the right hand side of the image, about a third of the way along the block. Image:

Colombo Street between Armagh and Gloucester in the 1880s. Sydenham House would have stood on the right hand side of the image, about a third of the way along the block. Image: F. A. Coxhead, via Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0010.

Several advertisements for Sydenham House in the Press in 1863 and 1864 are of particular interest, as they mention Prince’s intention to take orders for dinner, tea and breakfast services etc. from England, all of which could be marked with the crest, initials or “other distinctive badge” of the purchaser, if they wished (Press 12/09/1863: 122/10/1864: 6). These advertisements not only provide a tangible connection between our artefact and the historical record, but also a possible one between Charles Prince and the story of John George Ruddenklau, mayor,  proprietor of the City Hotel and the subject of one of our blog posts last year. J. G. Ruddenklau’s role in Christchurch’s early decades was also brought to our attention through a few personalised ceramic artefacts we found that were, coincidentally, decorated with exactly the same pattern as the Sydenham House bowl, along with Ruddenklau’s initials and the mark of the City Hotel. The latter was founded in 1864 and run by Ruddenklau until 1869: it’s not implausible to think that J. G. Ruddenklau might have ordered personalised china through Charles Prince in 1864 for his newly established hotel.

Fragments of a saucer, teacup and mask jug, decorated with the City Hotel pattern and the initials J. G. R.

Fragments of a saucer, teacup and mask jug, decorated with the same pattern as the Sydenham House bowl, the initials J. G. R and the name ‘City Hotel’. Image: J. Garland.

This notion of connectedness seems to be something of a theme with this artefact, and this story. It’s been fascinating, actually, researching Charles Prince and finding all of these connections – direct and indirect – between his life and business in Christchurch and other people, places and things in the city – both then and now. Initially, when I deciphered the mark on the bowl I thought that the Sydenham House mentioned must have been named after the suburb and was probably located in that general vicinity. As it turns out, it was the other way around: it seems to have been due to the fond recollections of Charles Prince’s china shop by a man named Charles Ellison that ‘Sydenham’ was first used for the local borough council in 1876 and, eventually, the actual neighbourhood south of Moorhouse Avenue (Christchurch City Libraries 2014).

Christchurch south

A view of Christchurch South, including the suburb now known as Sydenham. Image: Geoff Wilson, via Wikimedia Commons.

A similar connection is evident for Prince’s residence, Waltham House, which played a comparably crucial yet indirect role in the naming of Waltham (of special note to those of us at Underground Overground, as our offices are in Waltham). In 1866 a group of people placed an advertisement in the Press stating that a meeting of residents at that house had unanimously decided that the neighbourhood “of Colombo Street south and the Gasworks road, leading to Wilson’s bridge” should be called Waltham (Press 26/10/1866: 1). A letter to the editor placed four days later decried it as a hoax, and offensive to the “modest and rather retiring disposition of that gentleman” (although there doesn’t seem to be any word on it from the man himself; Lyttelton Times 30/10/1866: 3). Still, the name seems to have stuck and Charles Prince, teacher and shop owner, through no fault or intention of his own, left an indelible mark on the city of Christchurch. A reminder, perhaps, that sometimes our legacies aren’t always ours to determine?

We talk about six degrees of separation (two at most in New Zealand, right?), but sometimes I think we forget that it doesn’t just apply to people in the here and now – that it doesn’t just apply to people, full stop. Increasingly, as we uncover more and more of Christchurch’s past, literally and metaphorically, we’re finding connections between the lives of the city’s inhabitants in the objects, places and moments in time where their stories cross over. These things, these tangible connections between people, are the physical embodiment of the ever increasing network of human interaction that’s built the world we live in today. It’s incredibly cool to see those connections in Christchurch’s archaeological record and the role they played in shaping the city we see around us today.

Jessie Garland

References

Christchurch City Libraries, 2014. [online] Available at www.christchurchcitylibraries.com

Grey River Argus. [online] Available at www.paperspast,natlib.govt.nz.

Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at www.paperspast,natlib.govt.nz.

Press. [online] Available at www.paperspast,natlib.govt.nz.