Victoria Clock Tower

Originally erected in 1898 on the corner of High Street, Manchester Street and Lichfield Street, the clock tower was relocated to 95 Victoria Street in 1930.

Victoria Street jubilee clock
Victoria Street jubilee clock. © Christchurch Star

The clock and the ironwork, commissioned in 1859, were originally intended for the Canterbury Provincial Council buildings. It was designed by architect, Benjamin Mountfort, but cast in England by Skidmore and Sons before being shipped to New Zealand. Upon arrival it was found to be too heavy for installation in the Provincial Council buildings. It was then stored in the yards of the Christchurch City Council.

Although possible options for the installation of the clock were considered, it continued to remain in storage until plans were made to construct a clock tower to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The architects selected for the construction of the tower were Strouts and Ballantyne.

The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone at the corner of High Street, Lichfield Street, and Manchester Street took place on 9 December 1897. A copy of the Lyttelton Press and The Press were laid underneath the foundation stone. The clock was sent to England for repairs and when it returned in November 1898 an opening ceremony was planned to be held on 16 December 1898.

By 1929 there were calls from local business owners to remove the clock tower as it was considered to be a traffic obstruction and the cause of motor vehicle accidents. Plans were then made to relocate the tower to a new site in Victoria Street. The removal started on 31 July 1930, with a ceremony to remove the foundation stone. The foundation stone was relaid at the new site at the intersection of Victoria Street, Peterborough Street and Montreal Street on 30 August. The work to re-erect the tower was completed in December. However the clock, which had again been sent to England for repairs, wasn’t reinstalled until 1931 by W. Littlejohn and Son.

The clock tower underwent refurbishment in 1978 and was fully restored in 2003-2004. It was damaged in the 2010-2011 earthquakes. After being restored it was officially unveiled on 22 October 2014.