Much has already been written about the New Zealand International Exhibition [of arts and industries], which was held from 1 November 1906 until 15 April 1907 in Christchurch, so I don't really need to duplicate, however some interesting facts are:


Design and Construction


The Main Building was designed by Joseph Clarkson Maddison in his familiar classical style. J. & W. Jamieson were the contractors for the Main Building, which cost around £54,000. It had a frontage of 1310 feet (399 metres) (including the Machinery Hall), which ran parallel to Park Terrace, and measured 370 feet (113 metres) from front to back. It stood on 25,000 piles and used 3,200,000 feet of rimu from a Westland mill.


A feature of the building was the use of stuccoline, a mixture of plaster, tempo and stucco, which gave it its glowing snowy white appearance. It was a large and impressive building that took large amounts of raw materials to build. The construction of the Main Building took:

In addition the guttering round the building and between the annexes covered two miles and the huge skylight in the roof covered about 100,000 square feet (9,300 square metres). This skylight featured glass from the glassworks of St. Helens in Lancashire, coincidentally the birth-place of Premier Seddon.


The towers at the main entrance , which stood opposite Kilmore Street, were 160 feet (49 metres) high making them roughly ¾ the height of the Christchurch Cathedral (63 metres or 207 feet high). Each tower had balconies which were 120 feet (37 metres) from the ground. The southern tower contained an electric lift, conveying people to the top of the tower from which could be seen magnificent views of Christchurch and the plains, from the Alps on one side to the ocean on the other. [1]



A couple of gales during the course of construction wreaked much havoc on the main hall and towers - but a stirling job was done to fix up the damage and stay on schedule to open.  Despite of the substantial financial loss incurred by the Exhibition, it was deemed to be a success. With nearly 2 million visitors, attendance exceeded expectations - New Zealand's total population at the time was less than 1 million.[2]



When I was employed at Canterbury Museum we held a display to celebrate the centenary of the exhibition and one of the focal points was a large beautifully handmade  inlaid wood roll-top writing desk which won a medal at the exhibition.  It was painstakingly made over many months by a fellow who could only work on it by candlelight at nights.


I've recently purchased this postcard which was posted at the top of the tower on 15 February 1907 - 2 months before it close and was demolished.  Rather nice to think it was actually there and now I've got it.  The message is written by A. B. Greene and the card was sent to Mrs A.B. Greene", Eastbourne Street, Hastings, H. Bay


"Had a grand

passage. Not a

bit sick, first

class weather.

Having a good

time.  At top of

tower.  Love to

all.  A B Greene"












More about the exhibition can be found on the Christchurch City Libraries website















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