Cambridge Tce originally a stream

JOSEPH ROMANOS
Last updated 10:36 25/01/2013

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The Wellingtonian

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Cambridge Tce, site of some of Wellington's landmark buildings, was once a stream.

Before a massive earthquake changed the landscape in 1855, flat- bottomed boats used to make their way from the harbour along what are now Cambridge and Kent terraces to a shallow lagoon, which later became the Basin Reserve.

Many of the principals of the New Zealand Company that founded Wellington had Cambridge University as their alma mater - hence the name Cambridge Tce.

One of the Cambridge Tce's most famous buildings was St Patrick's College, which was built in 1884 and remained the dominant feature of the southern end of the street until the school moved to Kilbirnie in 1979.

Another notable building was the Wellington East (later Cambridge Tce) Post Office, which was built in 1930 and in 2003 was converted into backpacker accommodation.

The Cambridge Hotel, on the corner of Alpha St, has long been a feature of the street. It looked to be on its last legs until it was restored to full splendour recently.

A block further south for many years was the Urgent Pharmacy. Today it is known as the Accident and Urgent Medical Centre and has moved a few hundred metres south, to Adelaide Rd.

Cambridge Tce is a main thoroughfare for traffic travelling to the city, either from the southern suburbs or the airport.

The annual Christmas Parade used to begin at the Basin Reserve and make its way along Cambridge Tce, which would be lined with thousands of spectators, young and old.

Since 1911 the Queen Victoria statue nearer its northern end has been a much-recognised Cambridge Tce landmark.

In earlier years the street was rather residential, but these days it is home to several car yards and ethnic restaurants. Since 1964, Downstage, on the corner of Cambridge Tce and Courtenay Place, has drawn theatre-goers to the area.

Today Cambridge Tce runs as far north as the Chaffers New World. During the 20th century, the reclaimed land there was used for a variety of purposes, including a morgue, a bus park and a large-scale incinerator, the Wellington Destructor.

The Destructor had two towering chimneys. From 1908 till 1946 the city's rubbish would arrive on horse- drawn carts and trucks, to be burnt in the furnaces there.

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