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Shirley Stories:

Purchase of Shirley Methodist Church Site 1917

Mr Salter, on behalf of the trustees of the Shirley Methodist Church, offered to pay any sum agreed upon between the official Assignee and the trustees for the site presented to the church by Mr Craddock. The trustees he said, felt in the circumstances they should do this.

The Official Assignee said he was sure that the creditors would appreciate the action of the trustees in the matter. The section was probably worth ?120 or ?150.

Mr Salter: The last Government valuation was ?80, but of course it is more than that.

The offer was accepted, the creditors expressing their extreme appreciation of the action of the trustees, and the Official Assignee being appointed to arrange matters connected with the purchase of the section by the trustees.


Mr John Buxton gave the section for a Church on the corner of Quinns Rd and St Albans St (now Shirley Rd). Mr Hamilton a member of the Church drew plans and the church was built for eighty pounds. Mrs Buxton was a Miss Shirley and the church was named after her. The District took its name from the church. In 1884 it was thought that the church would better serve its purpose if it was sited further east. A section on the corner of New Brighton Rd and Golf Links Rd was purchased and the church was shifted. The old site was sold for fifty pounds and the new one cost one hundred pounds. To provide for the growing congregation the church was lengthened by ten feet and a vestry was added. Another improvement was the building of a shed for the ministers horse! The total cost of removal and additions was 210 pounds. The Trustees met April 25 1884 and agreed to change the name of the church to "Windsor".

In 1916 the Trustees decided that as the church was in the centre of the Shirley District it should return to its former name. The same year it was decided to build a new church on the corner of North Parade and New Brighton Rd (Craddocks Corner) costing 1500 pounds and the foundation stone was laid Dec 14th 1918 by Mr J Rowe and Mrs Palk. The church was opened Mar 9th 1919. The section was given to the Church by Mr Craddock.

In 1924 Mr Rowe died and left money for a church tower. This money was used to build both a tower and a Church Hall and the hall was called the Rowe Memorial Hall. The Trust needed 130 pounds to furnish the new Sunday School.

The following notice appeared in the "Sun", "Star" and "Lyttelton Times" 27th Sept 1917;-

"In connection with the estate of Mr A E Craddock we are informed that the Shirley Methodist Church Trust has paid the Official Assignee for the section on the corner of New Brighton Rd and North Parade bequethed to the church by Mr Craddock." Evidently Mr Craddock was declared bankrupt and the Trustees felt morally bound to reimburse the estate. The amount paid was Government valuation plus 25%. The article thanked the Trust for its generosity

Record from From Mr John Emmett, "Waikuku Beach" Nth Canterbury.

[Probably written as a personal recollection in 1966]

Annual tea meeting so well known that the Richmond people (who were considered pretty rough types ) used to invade the premises and on several occasions the police were called to keep order. 1910, before shifting here.

Man who was a choir Master, Mr Alfred Craddock old church organist, a walking bank, plate went round, handful of cash came out, every year he bore the whole expense of the choir picnic, each member could take one other. Horse and buggy days? He gave the present section for this church. His wife, W. C. Olivers daughter, he went broke, owned place down the road, had a clearing sale, bad to do for the church. Went to jail, trustees eventually paid for the section through the bankruptcy estate.

All this other land belonged to a pig farmer, James Rowe , Church cost ?1400 contract price. Community contributed, did not include the tower, foundation put in only. Jimmy Rowe lost his wife, later went for a world tour, two single sisters in America (he) wanted them to come to NZ to keep house for him and they refused. Arrived back in Auckland, fell ill, and so annoyed with two sisters not coming he changed his will, originally at ?200 for building the tower in the new Church, but cut the two sisters out and tacked the ?2000 onto the ?200 Trustees eventually got the Courts approval to build the tower and the Rowe Memorial Hall.

Noise of trams


A complaint, that the noise of passing trams interfered with the Sunday services at the Shirley Methodist Church was received at yesterday's meeting of the Christchurch Tramway Board. The letter stated that the tram swung round two sides of the church, at the corner of North Parade and New Brighton Road. Sometimes when a tram was passing nothing could be heard inside the church.

“I go to that church," said Mr W.J. Walter," and I know that what the letter, states is fact." “The local authorities should keep the roads in better order said Mr J.A. Flesher, the chairman of the Board."It is when grit gets into the rails that such a. noise is made." The road is bitumen said Mr Walter. Mr Flesher, "Not round, the corner" Mr Walter; It's not grit, it's something to do with the trams. "You know we had to shift the board room away from the Square side of the building on account of the noise from the trams". “I don't know that anything can be done," said the chairman.Mr E. R. McCombs: "I move that the matter be referred to the Work and Traffic Committee, with, a recommendation that the matter be given every consideration. If any of the member here were on the Hospital Board they would know what it is to have trams rattling past when a meeting is in progress. Sometimes proceedings are held up for an hour all told because no speaker could be heard".Mr Walter seconded the motion, which was carried.

The Church Organ

[This record dated from 1966]
Members of the congregation will be interested to know that, as a Church anniversary thanksgiving gesture, an appeal has been launched to raise a sum in excess of $2000 required for overhauling the organ.

It is 57 years since the instrument which came from the home of the late Mr, Joe Ballantyne in Merivale was installed in the Shirley Church,

Some years earlier 10 of the young men of the Church, most of them choir members, formed themselves into the Shirley Saxon Club for the express purpose of raising funds for the purchase of a pipe organ,

Over a period of some 13 years they organised numerous social functions, grew potatoes and tomatoes for sale in a quarter acre section in North Parade and catered suppers for the now defunct Christchurch Male Voice Choir to further their project.

When the organ became available in late 1938 the club was able to hand over to the Church Trustees the ?300 required for its purchase, whilst the latter financed the annexe to house it.

Now six of the seven surviving Saxons, together with the widows of two deceased club members, have combined to make a donation of $100 to the restoration appeal.

Their prayer is that when restored, the organ will continue to give pleasure to many and still fulfill its important place in the life and work of the Church.

Still in His service they remain: - . E. Burn, R.H. Collins, R.H. Cresswell, L.L. Cresswell, H.B. Moore, G.E. Palmer, P., A. Pashby, Mesdames W.J. Salkeld, G.H. Rogerson,

Shirley Methodist Church

Shirley Local History Fact File No. 22 [Public Library Records] Prepared in 1995

Shirley Methodist Church started in 1866 - nearly 130 years ago. During that 130 years the district has changed from a few scattered houses to a thriving suburban area.

A service of worship was held in Mr Brice's Lake Terrace Road home and this service was the first recorded Methodist activity in the Shirley district. (Lake Terrace Road then, was the main road to Brighton).

Well known Shirley resident Mrs John Buxton requested on her death bed that her son should give a piece of land so that a church could be built. Mr Buxton did this and the land given was on the corner of St Albans Road, now known as Quinns Road. Mr Hamilton, a member of the church drew up the plans, and Mr Allen was the contractor. As soon as the building of the church got underway, the question of its name arose. Mrs John Buxton had been a Miss Shirley, and it was considered fitting that her dying request should be honoured by calling the church after her maiden name. The district took its name from the church at its centre.

The opening of the church took the form of a huge tea meeting held on Good Friday, 10 April 1868. It is recorded that in 1869 a Sunday School commenced with 10 members.

During the 1860's and 1870's the district of Shirley was growing and by the 1880's the population in the vicinity of the church had increased to such an extent that the need was seen for a larger church, and in 1884 it was felt that the church would better serve its purpose if it was a little further east, and so it was decided to move to the northeast comer of Golf Links and New Brighton Roads. The old site was sold for ? 50 and the new one purchased for ? 100 from Mr McGill. At a meeting of the Church Trustees held on 25 April 1884, a resolution was adopted "agreeing to an alteration of name, and that for the future the church be called Windsor".

In 1915 the Church Trustees obtained a valuable section on the southeast corner of New Brighton Road and North Parade, A new Church was proposed for the new site as the old church had become too small and needed extensive renovations. In 1916 another Trust meeting resolved "that as the Church stood in the centre of the Shirley district, and was half a mile from the nearest point of Windsor, it should return to its former honourable name - Shirley ..." The foundation stone for the new church was laid on 14 December 1918. The opening of the church was held on 9 March 1919 and the church soon became the centre of much activity,

The Trustees in March 1923 decided to raise funds to build a new Sunday School at the rear of the Church. In 1924 Mr Rowe, one of the oldest members of the church, died leaving a legacy for the building of a church tower. A Supreme Court decision permitted the building of a tower AND a Sunday School. The Sunday School was opened on 3 June 1928 and was named the Rowe Memorial Hall.

The Shirley Saxon Club presented the church with a pipe organ in 1938. The Saxon Club consisted of a group of young men from the church who worked for 13 years to raise the money for the organ, In the process, these young men gained some notoriety because they indulged in dancing, which at that time was not countenanced by the Methodist Church.

James Rowe 1845 - 1923
Early Shirley Resident

Christchurch City Libraries Local history fact file no 7

James Rowe, farmer and miller, was born in Helston, Cornwall in 1845. He arrived in New Zealand in 1874 on the Isles of the South
at the age of 29. Having disembarked in Lyttelton with his wife, James opened a grocery store in Christchurch on the corner of
Madras and Peterborough Streets, a business he operated for 23 years.

Four years after arriving in the colony he purchased 11 acres of land at Shirley, moved into the area, and began breeding pigs and
in the process became known as 'Piggy Rowe'

New Brighton Road in the north and Coopers Road in the south were the boundaries to the 11 acres. He called his homestead
Windsor Park and it still stands today in Ajax Street. It is thought that the Rowe homestead's name is how the area Windsor came
about. Some said it was through the Royal family but the dates do not match, as the area Windsor existed long before the Royal
Windsor came into being.

James devoted his attention to pig breeding and developed a stud of note. He farmed purebred Berkshires and Yorkshires, importing from the best English strains. He became so successful with breeding That he carried off most championships and principal prizes throughout New Zealand and Australia. Locally he won the President's Cup from the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association.

James had a substantial involvement in local government. In 1899 he was selected for the city council for the North-East Ward and served for three years. Time was also served on the Avon Roads Board, New Brighton Borough Council and the Waimairi County Council. Not only did he involve himself in local body affairs, but he was also a founding member of the new Methodist Church in Shirley to which he donated a new Sunday School building in 1928. He was also involved with the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association.

James Rowe developed pneumonia after surgery and it proved to be fatal. He died in 1923, his wife having predeceased him in 1916. They left no family. James rests in the Linwood Cemetery. Rowe Place in Shirley bears his name.


Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Vol3 Canterbury: industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, and illustrations. Cyclopedia
Co. Wellington, New Zealand 1897-1908

The Press, Mr James Rowe. 17 December 1923, pgl4
Walsh, George. Richmond: a regional history. G. Walsh, Christchurch 1973

Additional Note: James Rowe was a member of Shirley Methodist Church. he originally owned the block of land alongside the present Church site. He left a legacy to the church and the hall and church tower were built. The hall is called the Rowe Memorial Hall.

Shirley Methodist Choir - Notes taken from Minute Book.

On February 28th 1935, it was decided that each member should pay one penny per week towards choir funds. The collectors to be Misses W. Southern and J. Palk. A fine of one penny is to be imposed on all members absent. An apology is to be sent in by any member who intends to be absent from practice. After considerable discussion re the Sunday collection, it was decided to have the plate passed around the choir when the notices were being read out and then handed to the steward when he came to the front with the other plate.

12th March 1936, Mr N. J Salkeld had accepted the position of organist to St Peter's Woolston. The new methodist hymn book was in use with a request for the Trustees to purchase six copies for the choir.

March 15th 1938. Members annual subscription to be five shillings. The new organ fund was 10-0-5d. Mr Marks urged members to do their best to collect subscriptions for the fund, and promised that if any member collected 2 pounds within two weeks of the meeting he would subsidise the amount by one pound

March 28th 1940. The formation of a junior choir was discussed, but was left in abeyance in the meantime.

May 12th 1948. It was with deep regret that we learned of the retirement of our organist and choirmaster for the last 25 years. A letter of appreciation signed by all present members of the choir was forwarded to Mr Marks expressing their sincere thanks for the untiring consistent devotion in the training and presentation of church music.
With the appointment of Mrs. Coomber as organist and Mr Salkeld as choirmaster we look forward to another successful year.

May 12th 1949. The suggestion was made that there be no choir practice on wet evenings.

August 2nd 1951 The junior choir was discussed again. It would sing in the mornings and the senior choir at the evening service.

April 6th 1961. Choir rules: These were read and the rule as to the wearing of hats was discussed at length. A minority considering the wearing of hats not necessary.

February 22nd 1968. A motion that the choir go into recess except for the month before Easter and Christmas was defeated.

April 16th 1970 Choir to make a special effort to educate the congregation into learning and becoming familiar with new hymns.

March 4th 1971. Hats again, but this time it was decided women had free-will to decide if they would wear a hat.

March 28th 1974. Discussion on the choir still being worthwhile at the evening services, when such small congregations. It was decided to keep on singing at alternate services.

May 1st 1975. it was decided on a two month trial to sing at the morning service only

December 1981. Mr Eric Macfarlane announced his retirement as choirmaster. A presentation was made to him. He had not been replaced in 1982 and congregation members now sat in the choir seats. The final brief note in the minute book is dated 1982 where Mr Macfarlane conducted a choir for Christmas.

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