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The Mayor's Office 1998-2007
  The Mayor's Office: Garry Moore 1998-2007

Victoria Clock Tower Unveiling

Monday 16 February 2004

One of the keys to reviving the inner city has been making sure that we hold onto as much of the best of our past as we can.   This is a bit of the best.   Of the past, the present, and the future.

The word "icon" gets well abused and over-used these days.   Just for once we are faced here with a real icon.   The Victoria Clock tower makes the cut as a real icon.   It's so iconic it would be real hard to imagine this part of the city without it.   It is now also a reborn icon.

I dare say there is a correct technical term for it, this restoration revelation, but I would just have to say it looks utterly superb.

One of the few sad things about today is that the Christchurch architect, George Lucking, who did the report this work is based on is not very well at present.   I was told it is hugely unlikely he would be able to make it today.   If you have George, or if you have family or friends here all I can say is what a great job it is.   Thank you from the people of Christchurch.

On another topic altogether, I did say earlier that a key part of restoring our inner city has been in working out what parts are crucial to now and the future.

It is worth pointing out that since we made the decision to send out clear signals about our plans for the inner city we have got an equally clear response.

There has now been over $100 million of private sector investment in the inner city.   We have shown how Christchurch can make public private partnerships work.   I have also been told that the story of the new revived Victoria Clock Tower is one of those tales that should remind us all of how some things never change.

When you look at the history of this structure you can almost hear the squabbles and spats of the pioneers over an inner city

building echoing right down into the present.   How we love to fight over bricks, mortar and design.

I did know that the Anglican Cathedral had been short changed of one tower by both funding problems and a few typically Canterbury squabbles.   I'm intrigued to find out that this building here was designed by Mountfort to go on top of the original Provincial Chambers, but was too heavy.

After 1864 they parked it in the Council yards for 30 years until some bright spark decided to re-package it for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.   They set it up on a stone base on

the corner of Manchester, High and Lichfield Streets where it stayed until they decided it was a traffic hazard.

That's when it came here in 1930 and got a new clock into the bargain.   So this structure is a victim of many a committee decision over the years.   It has known both glory and exile.   It is one of the great political survivors of our city.

I think it now looks glorious.   Hopefully future generations will agree with us.   I am delighted to be here and to see such a great restoration finished.

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