Triangle Chambers

Built in 1931 the Triangle Chambers replaced the earlier City Hotel on the corner of High Street and Colombo Street.

City Mall fountains, corner of High and Colombo streets
Stewart fountain, corner of High and Colombo streets. © Christchurch Star

Together with sections 840 and 841, Town Section 842 comprised an area of land bounded by Colombo Street, High Street, and Cashel Street which was known as The Triangle. This property was eventually purchased by William Wilson following his arrival in Canterbury in 1851. Wooden buildings were erected upon it and a right of way crossed the section from Cashel Street to Colombo Street.

At the end of the 1850s, a set of shops stood on the northern corner of the triangle formed by the junction of High Street and Colombo Street. One of these buildings was operated by John George Ruddenklau which, by 1861 was known as the City Wine Vaults. Ruddenklau also operated a bakery with J.S. Hawley until June 1863 when their partnership dissolved. The City Hotel was rebuilt under John George Ruddenklau and was open by May 1864. Despite this, in that same year, the collection of buildings was referred to as a “Triangle” of unsavoury reputation. The hotel was rebuilt again in 1876 while under the management of John William Oram.

William Wilson died in 1897. The property continued to be managed by his trustees who, at the time of his death, were John Buckland Way and Sydney Beveridge Wilson. The City Hotel continued to operate under various managers.

In July 1929, Ballin Brothers, a brewing firm and soft drink manufacturing business, purchased the license for the City Hotel with the intention to transfer the license to a new premises. In May 1930, the lease was extended to 31 October 1930 to enable the completion of the New City Hotel being constructed for Ballin Brothers on the corner of Bath and Colombo Street.

Initially the estate of William Wilson did not intend to rebuild the hotel building following the purchase of the license by Ballin Brothers, planning instead to refit the ground floor for shops and use the upper floor for tearooms. However, by May 1930, the estate had hired the architectural firm England Brothers to remodel the existing building by adding an additional storey and renovating the street facing façade with a modern exterior.

On 6 December 1930, tenders were advertised for the removal of the former City Hotel building. By March 1931, tenders were advertised for the construction of a new building which commenced in June by B. Moore and Sons.

The new building was designed by England Brothers and followed the principles of the modern style of architecture. Built from reinforced concrete, it consisted of two floors. The contract with B. Moore and Sons also included an extension of the building over the former right of way.

The building was completed by December 1931 and offices were advertised for lease. The building became known as the Triangle Chambers or Triangle Buildings and consisted of shops on the ground floor with rooms on the first floor. The High Street façade was the site of the shops listed as 281-285 High Street, while the façade on Colombo Street was listed as 710 Colombo Street.

By 1933, Triangle Chambers was occupied by the following businesses; Gresham and Gresham dentists (281 High Street), New Zealand Gold Buying Company (281 High Street), Alfred A. Barlow, hairdresser (283 High Street), New Zealand Railways central booking office (284 High Street) and New Zealand Railways parcels office (285 High Street).

In May 1934, a large electric sign, depicting a train, was installed on top of the building to advertise the New Zealand Railways.

In the 1940s, Gresham and Gresham, Alfred A. Barlow and the New Zealand Railways central booking office were still in occupancy. Other businesses included Prestige Millinery Limited, Alisa Jamieson, dressmaker, and Robinson E. Hall, physician.

In 1964, 281 High Street was occupied by Salon Serene, hairdresser, H. Bicknell and Son, accountants, Klexema New Zealand Limited, Dominion Federation of Root Traders’ Association, New Zealand Trotting Horsemen’s and Trainers’ Association, Burni, Elliot and Co., customs agents, and Adcocks Gifts Limited. 283 High Street was occupied by Ian Hamilton, tobacconist and Langer’s Coiffures International, hair stylists. 285 High Street was the premises of Hanafins Grand Pharmacy and Gamages Hat Shop. Triggs and Denton leather goods was situated in 710 Colombo Street.

In 1974, 281 High Street was occupied by Adcocks Jewellers Limited, Modern School of Music, The Masonic Exchange Limited, Peacock Fashions, and B.A. Firkin, artist. 283 High Street was occupied by Hyslops Salon and 285 was occupied by Matthew and Son.

In 1980, 285 High Street was occupied by Barkers Mens Boutique, while 710 Colombo Street was Dominion TV Rental.

By 1991, DTR rentals and Triangle Sheepskins were situated in 710 Colombo Street. 281 High Street was occupied by Donnell Jewellers, Golden Triangle, Herberts Shoe Company, Pike International Travel, Russells Fabrics Limited and Truffles Coffee Lounge. 283 High Street was occupied by Bruno Barberellis and 285 was the Garden of Eating.

Later in the 1990s, Kentucky Fried Chicken was in occupancy of 285 High Street, with entrances on both High Street and Colombo Street, and access to upper floor of the northwest corner. 710 Colombo Street became New Zealand Natural, a frozen yoghurt and ice cream store.

By 2003 the building was owned by Glentree Properties (Triangle) Limited. The building was damaged in the 2011 earthquake and subsequently demolished.