Timaru: then and now

Last updated 14:09 10/02/2014
timaru streets
TOP: Timaru looking south from the Basilica in March, 1911 and February 2014. Just beyond the Convent (the large building on the left) is the original High School, now Timaru Girls' High School.

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What a difference 100 years can make.

As the South Canterbury Museum's exhibition, Photographed by William Ferrier, opened for its final two days over the weekend, we decided to see whether we could replicate in some way Ferrier's eight-panel panorama (six, in our case) of Timaru, taken from the dome of the Sacred Heart Basilica in 1911.

The basilica was new, replacing the wooden Roman Catholic Church that burned down in April 1910, and while it was an exciting time for the Catholic congregation, the impressive new building also provided an ideal opportunity for Ferrier to get a new perspective of Timaru.

Apparently, with little fear of heights - a quality shared by our own chief photographer John Bisset - and a great love of both large and small-scale panoramic views of his surroundings, this panorama is one of the sweeping views he captured on film.

Features such as the towers of St Mary's and Chalmers Churches help orientate the view. The town clock tower looks familiar - but closer inspection reveals it is on the old Post Office, not its present position on the council buildings.

Trees have grown, obscuring 1911 landmarks. Close to the Basilica, Theodosia St has yet to be realigned to meet the northern end of Craigie Ave and the grand old trees that we know now on Craigie Ave are only saplings, a few years old. Inland urban sprawl is filling the landscape but especially in the west and south-west huge spaces remain unoccupied in areas that we know now as closely packed residential areas.

So, here is Timaru in 1911, and again in 2014. Photographed by William Ferrier and John Bisset. The large-scale panels in the exhibition provided a further opportunity to compare then and now; to see what is the same, and what has changed.

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- The Timaru Herald

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