North West Homecoming [1]

I grew up in the northwest of Christchurch and it was my home for 29 years starting from when we as a family moved from the North Island on the transfer of my father to become the manager of Westpac Papanui in 1974. My parents sold our house in Ilam Road in 2003 for $245,000. The next family made mainly internal changes such as converting the separate kitchen and dining areas into one open plan area and a few other things, but the house was still very similar when they sold up in 2016 for $670,000. The buyers at that time cannot have lived in it for very long or at all because it was removed around 2018/2019 and a new house has been built there, with a recent council valuation of $1.01 million. The street was really middle class when we first moved there but the development of new expensive housing on what was former health department land across the road has greatly increased property values in the area over time, and changed its character somewhat.

The main reason for me to visit the northwest neighbourhoods where I grew up is to visit the Latimer Library regularly. The library is located at Laidlaw College in Condell Ave, only 2 km from the former family home. Join me on this series of posts as I explore the suburbs and landmarks of the part of Christchurch where I grew up.

We’ll start with some aerial overviews courtesy of Canterbury Maps. I have created my own detailed set of aerial photos of the general neighbourhood which will be used in subsequent posts to point out the way the area has developed in the last 80 years. The first year I can get aerial photos for is about 1940 and it shows that the north-west of Christchurch was still at that time largely undeveloped. Our neighbourhood, Jellie Park, is still open field more or less in the centre of this view. If you can’t quite work out things from these scaled maps, don’t worry as subsequent posts will drill into a lot of detail “close to home”.

The next one I have is 1955 and it shows quite a lot of changes, mainly in the right hand side. We can see a number of new streets and a lot of houses. Aorangi Road has been built through and the state housing estate along both sides of it developed. Burnside Primary School is being built immediately to the right of the prominent vertical division (join between two aerial photos) in about the centre of the view.

1965 presents a greatly changed perspective. Part of this is due to various government housing construction programmes which churned out hundreds of residential sections for private sale in the 1950s. Although many of the houses were virtually identical and perhaps could be decried as “cookie cutter”, the neighbourhoods that were developed have become quite desirable over the years. My uncle’s family and some other people I have known lived in some of these streets in Burnside. Cobham Intermediate and Burnside High Schools have been built and the early development of Jellie Park with the lake and public “Lido” pools have been carried out. There are still some notable tracts of open land, some of which was not developed until the 1980s or even 1990s.


Jumping through to 1980, we had then been living in the area about five years. Burnside High School had grown quite a lot in the intervening years, and some of the remaining open land to the north of it (Ambleside Drive etc) has now been built on, probably due to a family owner selling up their mansion or rural landholding. The Laura Fergusson Trust’s premises have been developed on what is thought to be hospital board land immediately south of Jellie Park. Much of this land remained open for another 10-15 years. We can also see areas at the extreme left of the photo where new streets were being built in 1965, that are now fully fledged suburbs (Powell Crescent, Raxworthy Street etc, and also areas bordering on Ilam Fields off Maidstone Road.

So the next view is from 1990. Burnside High has grown even more (I had completed my schooling in the mid-1980s and so did not witness the continued expansion of the roll, which has recently peaked at over 2500 and is now being reined in by the government due to overcapacity at other Christchurch high schools), but the major difference you will see is that “hospital board” land next to Jellie Park being developed into a subdivision. The “Chateau Estates” has contributed to a wider gentrification of our street and undoubtedly driven up property values in the areas.

“Chateau Estates” was relatively slow to sell (the land was highly priced and properties there are likely in the million-dollar range) and it’s not until this last view in 2010 that we can see it is fully populated with housing all the way round. Jellie Park has been further developed with the extra buildings (council leisure centre) and a lot of landscaping. We had left the area in 2003 with the sale of the family home (I was living there at that time).

It’s probably appropriate to start in just a small corner of “Fendalton North” as our neighbourhood was pretentiously known (in the name of the local Post Office) and so next time I will take in some close up views of the family home in Ilam Road. Stay tuned…