Friday, December 25, 2009

The Boys' High School

Architect: William Barnett Armson (1834-1883)
Builder: Greig and Hunter

The Star, Issue 3093, 4 March 1878, Page 3
A meeting of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College was held at eleven o'clock on Friday morning ... A contract for levelling the site of the Boys' High School had been entered into, and the cottage on the site had been sold.

The Committee had appointed Mr Armson as the architect, who had prepared sketch plans of the proposed building, and these would be submitted for the consideration of the Board.

The Star, Issue 3463, 17 May 1879, Page 4
It was intimated in our columns a short time since that the work of building the Boys' High School in connection with the Canterbury College had been commenced. The contractors for the new wing of the College, Messrs Greig and Hunter, have also undertaken this large work, their contract price being £8889. Operations were commenced on April 2 by sinking the trenches for the foundation, which in this case have to be carried down to the shingle, a depth below the floor line of 8ft 6in. Upon the shingle, a footing of concrete, 18in thick, was laid, and upon this the rubble stone walls were commenced. These have now been brought to the general surface of the ground over the whole block, which is 80ft by 70ft, and it is anticipated that the building will be completed within 15 months.

above: The Boys' High School, Christchurch.
(Fifty Years' Progress in Canterbury 15 December 1900, page 52)

The architect for the Boys' High School is Mr Armson, and from the plans prepared by that gentleman, a thoroughly comprehensive idea of the building can be obtained. Commencing with the ground floor, in the centre of the Worcester street frontage is a porch, 20ft by 7ft., the building being recessed to this extent. Within the porch is a spacious hall, 34ft. 6in. by 20ft., and beyond is a lavatory, 16ft by 13ft (?), and the lobby of the rear entrance, 12ft. 6in. by 6ft. On the right of the main entrance is room No. 1, 30 ft by 25ft., and room No. 2, at the rear, has the same dimensions. On the left of the entrance is a master's room, 16ft by 16ft.; room No. 3, 25ft by 20ft., and the refectory, 19ft by 16ft. At one corner of the master's room is an octagonal projection, forming the base of the turret which — with its white stone spire — will be one of the distinctive features of the building. Its height from the ground will be 57 feet. A winding staircase within the turret forms one means of access to the upper storey. Beneath the lavatory mentioned as being placed at the rear of the entrance hall, will be a boiler house, 15 by 13 feet, which will be reached by a flight of steps from within the building.

above - The Boys' High School about 1905.
(Gordon & Gotch Ltd)

The arrangements of the upper floor includes a spacious landing and a magnificent room for students, 60ft by 26 feet, this apartment being along the end of the building to the right of the main entrance. There is also Room No. 6, 26ft by 20 feet, and another master's room (over the lower one) 17ft by 16 feet.

In designing the building Mr Armson has employed the Gothic order of architecture, and there can be no hesitation in asserting that the finished building will be an ornament to this city. In one instance, a large oriel window has been introduced to make a break in the outline, and one or two recessed portions will serve a like purpose, as will the buttresses which are placed here and there. The walls will be in ashlar rubble stone work (like the Canterbury College) with dressing of white stone, so that there will be a certain harmony between the Boys' High School and the educational buildings already existing in the neighbourhood. It may be mentioned that above some of the Gothic windows there are pretty rose windows introduced, and that in various ways the details of the stone-work have been enriched. This is particularly noticeable at the main entrance, where the pillared porch is admirably treated. In the entrance hall, again, a fine effect is attained by the introduction of a staircase of really elaborate design, and this the contractors believe will appear still richer in the finished work. The ventilating ducts of the building will be led to a central position in the roof, which will be crowned with a spire or ventilating turret, rising to a height of 76 feet from the ground line. Mr W. Ness is acting as inspector of works on behalf of the architect.

The Star, Issue 3536, 11 August 1879, Page 3
The building in Worcester street west, which is to form the Boys' High School, has been very rapidly proceeded with since the description of the plans appeared in these columns. Upon the massive foundations of concrete and rubble, work, the walls, both external and internal, have been carried to a general height of about 10 feet above the floor level, or 13 feet 6 inches above the ground line.

The flues for the transmission of hot air throughout the building are being built into the masonry as the work proceeds, wood being used in preference to metal, as less liable to expansion. The circular staircase of the tower is also being carried up simultaneously with the walls, the characteristic feature of the whole work being its great solidity.

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