Topic: King Edward Barracks

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Built in 1905 to replace an earlier drillshed, the King Edward Barracks played an important role in Christchurch's military history, and was later used for civic functions prior to its demolition in 2000.

In 1864 the Canterbury Provincial Government designating the land between Montreal Street and Cashel Street as a parade ground for its military volunteers. In the following year a drillshed was established which stood on the site until February 1903, when it was destroyed by arson. In August 1904 the drillshed trustees held a meeting to discuss the construction of new barracks which would be known as King Edward Barracks.

Since 1865, a drillshed had been situated on land between Montreal Street and Cashel Street. On 21 February 1903 the drillshed was destroyed by arson. In August 1904, the drillshed trustees held a meeting to discuss the construction of new barracks which were to be known as King Edward Barracks.

Architectural firm, Luttrell Brothers, were hired to act both as the architects and buildings for the new barracks building.

The foundation stone was laid on 13 July 1905 by the Premier Richard Seddon. To ensure that the building was finished by August, bricklayers and other tradesmen worked through the night by gaslight.

With an entrance facing onto Montreal Street, the barrack building was 300 feet long, 120 feet wide and 40 feet high. Composed of arched iron girders with a corrugated iron exterior, and an asphalt floor, it was designed to be fireproof. At the time it was believed there were only two other buildings designed in a similar fashion in England. Situated at the eastern end of the structure was a mobilisation store with room for a Maxim gun and a library on the grounds floor and officers’ rooms on the upper floor.

The barracks were opened by Colonel Bauchop on July 26 1905 with a military parade.

The size of the building meant that it was later used to house civic functions such as exhibitions and concerts prior to the construction of the town hall. The army left the site in 1993 and in 1995 it was purchased by Ngai Tahu.  In 2000 it was deconstructed and the site became a car park. The structure was transported to Hornby where it became a warehouse.

References

The New Drillshed, Star, Issue 8102, 30 August 1904.

The King Edward Barracks, Star, Issue 8367, 13 July 1905.

King Edward Barracks, Press, Volume LXII, Issue 12245, 14 July 1905.

The King Edward Barracks, Press, Volume LXII, Issue 12256, 27 July 1905.

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