King Edward Barracks

Built in 1905, the King Edward Barracks on Cashel Street had a long association with the military and later became a venue for civic functions.

Graduation at King Edward Barracks
Graduation at King Edward Barracks. © Christchurch Star

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

Architectural firm, Luttrell Brothers, were hired to act both as the architects and builders 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, concerts and university graduation ceremonies prior to the construction of the town hall. The army left the site in 1993 and in 1995 it was purchased by Ngāi Tahu.  In 2000 it was deconstructed and the site became a car park. The structure was transported to Hornby where it became a warehouse.