Saturday, August 30, 2008

E. Wheeler and Son - Christchurch in Panorama

Edmund Wheeler and Son's


The Cathedral.— The contractors for the erection of the Cathedral have commenced to lay the concrete foundations for the floor which is to be formed of Minton tiles laid upon a bed or substratum of concrete. The work of slating the roof is making progress, and the whole fabric of the building is undergoing a thorough cleaning and scraping. It has been decided to erect the spire of white stone, springing directly from the present top of the tower; it will rise to the height of about 100ft from the summit, or to a total height of about 200ft from the ground. It may be mentioned that Mr Wheeler, photographer, has succeeded in taking a complete set of panoramic views of the city from the top of the tower.
Star, Issue 3978, 19 January 1881, Page 2

"Christchurch in embryo" would have, formed a fitting title for a picture recently exhibited. In the loan section of the exhibition recently held under the auspices of the Canterbury Society of Arts, was a spirited water-colour painting by Mr Peel, of Rangiora. It gained a very large share of attention, for it was a faithful presentment of the Christchurch of 1853. Standing on the primitive looking bridge which then spanned the river at Worcester street, only some half dozen houses were "within cooey;" and though the scene had something of romance about it, and something too of pastoral simplicity, it was not a "valley of Avilion, where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow, nor ever wind blows loudly." Many a "bogged" waggon had to be eased out in those early days; much privation had to be endured, and many hardships had to be borne. Those were days in which the "pilgrims" could scarcely have dreamed of a railway tunnel, of a graving dock, or of that "finger pointing heavenward " which is now steadily rising in Cathedral Square.

The contrast to the watercolour painting has just been published by Messrs Wheeler and Co., photographers, Cathedral square. When the tower of the Cathedral had been completed, some of the citizens took advantage of the opportunity to look down, from a height of about 100 feet, upon the City of the Plains— a city having within its belts about 3700 rateable properties, assessed at considerably more than £200,000, and with a population of about 15,000. But those who ascended the Cathedral Tower had no limited view. Beyond the Belts they could see thriving and populous suburbs, and, in every directions, indications that the growth of the community is proceeding with undiminished rigour.

Using the Cathedral tower as an observing station, Messrs Wheeler have obtained a series of ten photographic pictures which, when joined together, form as perfect a panorama us could reasonably be desired. In this panorama is included nearly all that can be seen by an observer, stationed on the tower, and turning slowly round. It is a “mercator's projection" of a very tiny bit of the world, but a bit that abounds with interest both for it inhabitants and for the thousands of relatives and friends in other places.

The executive skill displayed in this photographic panorama can scarcely fail to be appreciated, and the pictures are well calculated to afford much surprise of an agreeable nature, insomuch us they are not the mere "picture of roofs and chimneys" which might perhaps have been anticipated. True, there are roofs in plenty, but the height of the station was sufficient to allow of looks in between them, and to present the immense aggregation of buildings after the manner of a projection drawing. As especially effective may be noticed the third and fourth pictures, in the centre of which is the long perspective of Colombo street south. Other admirable perspectives are the lines of Worcester street west and Colombo street north and the view looking down upon the new Government buildings, may be indicated as an example of sharp definition and effective treatment. As a whole, this photographic panorama, nicely mounted in book form, is a most effective and highly creditable example of the status in this Colony of one of the artistic pursuits. - Star, Issue 4020, 9 March 1881, Page 3

The skylight for Wheeler's newly erected studio in Cathedral Square can be
seen in this view taken by Wheelers in 1881.

In April 1880 Wheeler's studio moved from Colombo Street to Cathedral Square, a notice that first appeared in The Star of 10 April 1880 advised that:- E. Wheeler & Son have removed to their new studio, Cathedral Square, directly opposite (the) Post Office. The glass-room has been constructed from designs received on the principle of that of the celebrated Adam-Salomon, of Paris, with the special object of obtaining effects of transparent shading so much in fashionable request.

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