8 October 2023
It is my pleasure to welcome you all here today as we celebrate our Associations Centenary.
A special welcome goes to Pauline Cotter, our Deputy Mayor, Father Peter Williams and our Patron Arthur Northcote, we are delighted to have you.
The first meeting of the Canterbury Pilgrims Association was held on October 8 1923
17 people were present including Mr J A Flesher the Mayor who was the chair. One of those present was my ancestor, Mrs Annie Twynham. The aim of the Association was to promote the spirit of friendship, to foster veneration of the pioneers and generally to encourage the history of Christchurch. Those tenants haven’t changed over the years and remain ours today as we go forward into our next 100 years.
Those early years were spent in Meeting Room #4 in the City Council building at 194 Manchester Street. This continued until at least 2003 when they were still meeting in the Council Camellia Room. The early gatherings were held quarterly and were social ‘Garden Parties’ at some of the big properties of members.
In 1931 the name was amended to the one we now currently use : The Canterbury Pilgrims and Early Settlers Association. This was to enable people who had been in Canterbury for 50 years and their descendants to join and by 1955 we had become an Incorporated Society.
In 1948 members were concerned that items of historical interest were being sent to the dump and requested that they be given to the Association. As a result we donated thousands of items to the Canterbury Museum. This was the beginning of the Early Colonial section at the Museum. We have had a member on the Museum Board since our first appointment of Mr E R Webb. Jan Bierman is our current appointee.
Over the years the Association was also involved in placing monuments and memorials to commemorate those early Pilgrim achievements, and the Council continues to this day maintaining them.
One is the Pilgrims Well in the gardens, although the spring is dry after the earthquakes, also the First sod Turned, in Cashel Mall, the first railway station plaque in Ferrymead along with the Steam Ships Wharf Bollard to mention a few. The Cathedral plaque to honour early pilgrims is in the safe hands of the Cathedral during their rebuild. The Godley Cross or Wayside Cross on the Bridle track is currently under inspection/repair by the City Council Heritage team is one of ours and we are currently in discussion with them about its maintenance history.
We have over the years been vocal on several occasions regarding the Burnside Cabbage Trees and inroads into Hagley Park regarding the netball courts, roading and parking.
More recently are donations to St Mary’s Church Addington, roof fund, The Mariners Bell Tower at St Saviours Trinity Holy Church in Lyttelton and Riccarton Bush.
Our newsletter the Pilgrims Press was trialled in 1956 and has continued through to this day as demand has continued.
We have moved with the times and now have an interesting face-book page promoting membership, our aims and encouraging members. Our website has been overhauled and brought up to date by a enthusiastic and talented member who also gifted to us for our Centenary a lost and forgotten web page on the First Four Ships. This involved many hours of work and programming, not to mention expense to make it work with todays technology. We are grateful.
So while our message is the same as it was in 1923 we have taken advantage of modern technology to promote it. Like a lot of Associations we would like more members, so I entreat you to encourage others to join. You don’t know who you are until you know your history so wear your badge with pride.
Here in Canterbury we have a lot to be proud of thanks to those early Pilgrims and Settlers and we are anticipating another 100 years success.