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Magistrates' Court

Situated at 85 Armagh Street, the Magistrate's Court building was built in 1880 and is an example of Gothic Revival architecture.

The Christchurch Magistrate's Court
The Christchurch Magistrate's Court. © Christchurch Star

The former Magistrates' Court building is situated on land that was first transferred to the Crown in 1863.

By 1879 it was proposed that a new Magistrates' Court be constructed. Architect Benjamin Mountfort was selected to design the building. The building was designed in Gothic Revival and featured green Heathcote trachyte for the base course, Port Hills trachyte for the walls and Oamaru limestone for the facings. Corrugated iron was used for the roofing.

The first court session was held on 5 July 1880. The acoustics were described as ‘absolutely dreadful’ as the reporters were unable to hear what was being said.

In 1881 an office and waiting room were added. As with the original section of the building, corrugated iron was also used for the roofing.

In 1908-1909 a second building, designed to be in sympathy with the original, was added to the south end. However, in contrast to the original building, this section was roofed with slate. 

By the 1980s the building had ceased to house court sessions and was instead being used as a storage facility. As a result it had fallen into disrepair and was prone to leaking. Seismic strengthening was carried out in the 1990s when it was decided to use the building to house the Family Court. In 1997 a public lobby was also added.

The building was damaged during the 2010-2011 earthquakes but repairs were carried out. In 2016 Science Alive! purchased the building from Ngāi Tahu. In 2017 Science Alive! advertised the building for sale after its budget was reduced. In 2018 it was purchased by the Peebles Group.