History of a Dallington home

18:40, Aug 07 2012
Foundations are built by Bill Cooper in 1957. Bill's son Steven is pictured in the background.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: The house frames go up.
PROGRESS: The roof is on.
JOB DONE: The house is finished.
GLORY DAYS: Melva Cooper and her cat Kelly at the house in 1980.
GOING: The house is ready for demolition in 2012.
SLOWLY DYING: The windows are gone.
STRIPPED: The windows and roof are removed.
DEMOLITION: The digger starts work.
ALL GONE: Nothing remains.

Bill Cooper's brickwork survived the Canterbury earthquakes, but his community did not.

The Dallington house he built in 1957 provided a home for his family over nearly 50 years, but it was demolished last month as part of the clearance of the Christchurch residential red zone.

A large swath of his suburb will be demolished in the process.

Cooper died in 1968, and the Dallington home was a way for his family to remember him. It was a point of family pride that his brickwork survived the quakes intact.

His wife, Melva Cooper, lived there until 2005 and his three children, Steven, Vicki and Wendy, remember an idyllic childhood in the riverside home.

Family photographs show the house being built in 1957, and The Press documented its demolition last month.


The loss of the building was a sad moment for Steven Cooper.

''My father built the place and his life was cut short before he had a chance to enjoy what he made,'' he said.

''That house was the last tangible reminder of his life. It was still there and it was still his.

''He took a lot of pride in his work. As a boy, I remember he would point out the places he had built. The house lasted well through the quakes.''

Family photographs show Steven, aged about 2, toddling about the construction site as the house is being built. One photograph shows Bill Cooper with his arm around his young son on the terrace of the newly completed home.

Steven Cooper remembers a happy childhood in the home.

''It is only as I got older and talked to others that I realised how lucky we were,'' he said.

''At the back of the house was this big section that we could play in. We would just play there right through the summer.''

Younger sister Wendy Cooper was ''born and bred'' in the house. She also has fond memories of her childhood in the suburb.

''It was good. There were always local kids hanging out doing things,'' she said.

''In those days it was a big, open area where we played hide and seek and made a fort.''

The family's history in the home came to a close in 2005 when Melva Cooper moved into a rest home and the house was sold.

Wendy Cooper feels the loss of her childhood community.

''It was a nice family home. There is a sadness there for the whole community that has been lost and the spirit of the people that lived there,'' she said.

The Press