Topic: Arthur Stacey & New Regent Street

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Some transcripts of newspaper articles about Arthur Stacey and his involvement in the development of New Regent Street (opened April 1932)

New Regent Street 1932 Promotion Book - Cover Extracts from The Press & Christchurch Times

Ceremony attended by huge crowd. Spanish Street. An ambitious project. New thoroughfare planned

Source: The Press, 13 December 1929. p14

Extract: Whether or not Christchurch is to have a new street lined on either side with two-storey buildings, joining Gloucester and Armagh streets, apparently lies now entirely with the City Council, to the Town Planning Committee of which the whole scheme was submitted yesterday afternoon by those interested in its promotion.

Extract: The name of Mr A. F. Stacey is prominently associated with the venture, but when asked for details last evening he refused any information.

New city street. Work may be commenced in January

Source: The Press, 14 December 1929. p16

Extract: Additional details of the project for a new thoroughfare joining Gloucester and Armagh streets are now available. It is proposed that the roadway should be 28 feet in width, with the footpaths each six feet wide.

Extract: The work of demolition will not be very great, involving as it does only the removal of the Colosseum and two shops at the Armagh street end, one occupied by a dentist and the other by a fishmonger. These are the subject of options which remove any difficulties in the way of demolition, and Mr A. F. Stacey, principal in the scheme, has made satisfactory arrangements for the exercise of purchase rights in connection with the Colosseum.

New shopping centre. Regent Street opened

Source: Christchurch Times, 2 April 1932. p11

Extract: In the presence of a huge concourse of people, Regent Street, the picturesque new shopping centre which has been constructed on the site of the old Colosseum between Gloucester Street and Armagh Street, was officially opened last evening by the Mayor of Christchurch (Mr D. G. Sullivan, M. P.).

Extract: “As far as optimism goes I candidly admit that several times we have been in the soup in connection with this street,” said Mr A. F. Stacey, at the opening of Regent Street last evening. He went on to say that with the help of the chairman (Mr D. Manson) and the Prime Minister and others it had been possible for the company to get through. “Depression sometimes does us good,“ he remarked. “In this case it has saved us thousands of pounds. We lost a few thousands at the start, but that has been made up by the cheaper contract price, with the results that you see this evening. I am sorry that we have not got eighty shops instead of forty.”

Colourful history of New Regent Street

Source: The Press, 28 June 2007. pC.4

Full text:

Where trams now rumble and passersby peer through shop windows, circus animals once performed.

The quaint shopping precinct in the central city that is New Regent Street, which opened on April 1, 1932, is unimaginable as the open expanse known as the Circus Paddock where, more than a century ago, touring circus troupes entertained.

There was, for instance, Chiarini's Royal Italian Circus which rolled into town in January, 1880, with a bison from the Rocky Mountains, shetland ponies and "equestrian" dogs.

Later that year, having travelled by sea for three months, the Coles Circus arrived from San Francisco bringing with it a "congress of living wonders and rare specimens".

Crowds flocked down Manchester Street following the procession of caravans and cages that wended its way to Circus Paddock from the railway station.

Elephants pushed the lions' cages to the accompaniment of bands, tumblers and clowns. It was a grand occasion and there was excitement at seeing the six elephants, four camels, a den of African lions, a royal Bengal tiger, a Senegal leopard, a wild yak of Tartary, a mandrill from Brazil, an albino deer from Madagascar, a zebra, a two-horned black rhinoceros, monkeys, snakes and reptiles.

And, in 1880, this circus brought another star performer -- electricity.

A newspaper account of the event described "a rising rush of sound indicating that the electric light apparatus was at work".

"This, by means of six lamps, illuminated the vast enclosure most satisfactorily with a clear, brilliant light, contrasting with two flaring naptha lights and some candles near the orchestra."

By day and by night, Gloucester Street was filled with people gazing at the sideshows that included the animals as well as a group of native Americans who danced and sang war songs.

Soon, however, a new fad -- roller skating -- brought transformation to the area. By October 2,1888, a vast building of corrugated iron, steel, concrete and kauri had been constructed on the land we now know as New Regent Street.

Named the Colosseum, its 13 rafters were the largest wooden span of any building in New Zealand, a record it held until the structure was demolished in 1930.

On opening night, all the money taken for skate hire was given to the widow and children of a workman who had been killed during construction.

As the popularity of skating waned, the Colosseum was taken over by an Irish bootmaker, Michael O'Brien, who had come from Australia. He started a boot factory there in 1894. O'Brien's Boots proved so popular that, in 1902, the business moved to a large, modern factory in Dundas Street.

In the absence of a town hall, the Colosseum became the centre of public activities. It was used for banquets, concerts and prize- fighting. Richard Seddon and Joseph Ward gave political speeches there and a Mr Scott established a world walking record of 100 miles in 24 hours.

On May 11, 1908, the city's first cinema -- operated by Harry Liston -- opened in the Colosseum. It seated 2286 people but no-one could claim the facilities were ideal. The films were projected onto a large sheet slung across the theatre which was effective for those sitting in front of it. However, those seated behind saw the movie in reverse.

By 1915, the Colosseum theatre had closed in the face of serious cinematic competition. Eventually, the building was condemned by the council and used for parking motor cars, only to be revived in the 1920s with a fresh coat of paint, a new floor and the installation of a row of petrol pumps along the Gloucester Street frontage as George Dickinson transformed it into the Colosseum Garage and White Diamond Taxis.

About this time, higher volumes of motor traffic was causing congestion in Colombo Street, especially near the Armagh St corner and Victoria Square. It was considered that an alternative street outlet was needed to ease the pressure.

George Dickinson built a new garage for his taxi business and a Christchurch realtor, A. F. Stacey, saw an opportunity. With a team of businessmen -- working as New Regent Street Ltd -- he bought the Colosseum and demolished it in 1930.

It was their plan to construct a street linking Gloucester and Armagh streets to provide another route and line it with shops.

After encountering legal difficulties in establishing 40 separate titles for the shops, they set about establishing "the most beautiful street in New Zealand."

New Regent Street, with its Spanish-style shopfronts, Spanish tiles, decorative balconies and flower boxes, was opened in 1932.


City's unique street

Author: VANCE, Michael

Source: The Press 05 April 2008, pD9

Full text:

'A great community effort for the relief of the distress" that day's banner headline declared. Unemployment was sky-high and citizens were being summoned to gather and show support for the men without work, by buying donated goods at a fair.

The meeting place was to be the King Edward Barracks. That building was the main military depot in Christchurch and the mustering point for men about to be shipped off to foreign wars. It was cold and cavernous, but by the 1930s was becoming the site of big civilian events.

Christchurch lacked another suitable venue. It had no town hall and the Colosseum, previously the main gathering point for large events, had been demolished.

A few days previously something innovative had been opened on the Colosseum site -- New Regent Street.

"Unique in New Zealand" was how The Press described the street, "because it is privately owned and because it is built in a single architectural style."

New Regent Street was also a daring development, coming in the midst of the worst economic downturn New Zealand had experienced, and because it was so radical a departure for Christchurch.

The street "is the most modern in Australia and New Zealand in the facilities which it offers to the public and shopkeepers", the Press reported. "Apart from that, it embodies the very latest in town-planning ideas, and is finished in a most unusual scheme of colouring."

New Regent Street's opening deserved acclamation and that is what it got.

Dan Sullivan, the mayor, cut a ribbon across the street's entrance and speeches were made by leading councillors and A. F. Stacey, director and promoter of the scheme. A band played and the ceremony was broadcast over loudspeakers.

New Regent Street held the attention of Christchurch people not just because of the innovation it represented. Many of them had pleasant memories of the hall -- the Colosseum -- that had occupied its site for decades. Others could remember the site even before the building of the hall.

"The time when the site of New Regent Street was only a bare paddock is still within living memory," The Press said. "Then the Colosseum Building was erected, built of heart kauri and containing a larger wooden span than any other building in New Zealand."

The Colosseum still held that record when it was demolished in 1930.

"In the early days it was home of entertainments of all kinds. The Colosseum was the first hall in New Zealand in which moving pictures -- or cinematograph shows as they were then called -- were presented.

"In it, a Mr Scott established a walking record of 100 miles in 24 hours, which was in its day a world record.

"It was used for almost every possible kind of amusement, from prize-fighting to circuses. Thousands will remember it as a skating rink.

"Many of the famous politicians in the past -- Seddon, Massey, and Ward among them -- gave stirring speeches within its walls."

Eventually the Colosseum was condemned and used for the storage of cars and as a taxi business.

The city council had the idea of creating a road from the corner of Gloucester and Manchester to the corner of Oxford Terrace and Colombo, but the project proved too expensive.

A. F. Stacey had the vision to promote a lesser project, joining Gloucester and Armagh. Moreover, he would fund the work himself.

New Regent Street, the largest concentration of Spanish Colonial architecture in New Zealand, is his memorial.



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Arthur Stacey & New Regent Street

Suburb :Central City