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Christchurch Now & Then #8

Bearing almost no resemblance to its first incarnation, this was the Central Fire Station from 1899 to 1913.

 

From here horse-drawn fire engines, with steam-powered pumps, sped along Lichfield Street to quell the Great Fire of Christchurch; sixteen substantial inner city buildings were gutted that Summer's evening, a century ago.

 

On the South-west corner of Madras and Lichfield Streets, the building was remodelled in 1927 by the remarkable Charles Luney (1905-2006) and occupied by Radley Brothers, Produce Auctioneers, for the next four decades. Herbert Edward (Bert; 1902-1975) and Geoffrey Radley's business soon became the city's largest wholesale produce market.

 

By the early 1970s the introduction of supermarkets and processed food effectively brought an end to the produce markets, which had been a feature of this area since the days when "Cabbage" Wilson had his market gardens here in the late 1850's (William Barbour Wilson was also the city's first Mayor).

 

With a Taekwondo Centre upstairs, Turner's Car Auctions subsequently occupied the street level until 1993. Since then the old Fire Station has been the city depot of Ricki Shaw's Apex Car Rentals.

 

Canterbury Heritage, a journal of the province's social history and cultural heritage.

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Uploaded on January 11, 2008