I was last in Christchurch in February 2013, almost exactly two years after the second dreadful earthquake.
Much of the central city was still a red-zoned no-go area.
There were unsafe buildings everywhere awaiting demolition, and it’s no joke demolishing (for example) a 26-storey hotel that’s ready to fall down at any moment. Aftershocks were still happening, too, though we didn’t feel any.
It’s by no means all fixed now, but some places are getting there. The Arts Centre, for example, which will be a happy memory for any fibrecrafter who visited Christchurch before the earthquakes, looked like this in 2013:
Did you notice the very white new stonework on the right, contrasting with yellowed stones around the windows that date from when this was the original Canterbury University? Christchurch is a city of contrasts at present – lovely old heritage buildings restored, others shored up and crumbling, impressive new buildings, and many, many open spaces still awaiting who-knows-what.
It can be a bit confusing, even (I was told) for the locals sometimes. The cathedral, for example, is famously a wreck.
Recently a decision has been taken to restore it, at huge expense. But everyone I talked to thought it should be preserved as the ruin it is and a new cathedral built (think of Coventry). There are still, after seven years, families and elderly people whose homes are uninhabitable while the Earthquake Commission, the insurers and assessors squabble about what to do with them. Better, surely, to choose a cheaper alternative for the Cathedral … ?
Yet from the back, you’d hardly know it was damaged.
Further along the tram route (a wonderful way to tour Christchurch) you pass near the most interesting playground I’ve seen. This is a tiny corner; I didn’t see it all as my feet were getting tired by this time.
Yet half a block up the road, the site where an 18-storey office tower had to be demolished has turned into this –
So what about those spinning wheels I promised? I was fortunate to be able to go to a meeting of the Christchurch Guild of Weavers and Spinners, at their wonderful rooms at The Tannery. I was in awe of their beautiful work – you can admire it on their blog
They were welcoming and friendly, and several had interesting wheels. This one is a hammer wheel (no prizes for guessing why the name) made in the late 1970s by a company in the Netherlands called Moswolt. It’s bobbin lead, and the owner said she was told she’d never be able to spin fine on it – but she can and does.
There was also a Gypsy, one of Mike Keeves’ earlier Grace wheels. They are rather rare.
And something I’ve never seen in person before, only in photos – a wheel by Noel Price of Greymouth.