Observatory Building Opened
In 1891 James Townsend (an early settler who lived on Park Terrace) donated an equatorial telescope to Canterbury College as he wished to give his prized possession to the community. The telescope was built in Britain by T. Cooke & Sons in 1864. The Astronomical Society of Christchurch contributed around £420 for Canterbury College to erect an Observatory. In 1895, funds that had been set aside for a medical school were used to erect a biological laboratory with a tower for the telescope. The original dome and its replacement were made of wood and canvas. The exterior is a fine example of Gothic’s functional approach, as the building’s exterior was dictated by the planned use of its interiors. Zoology students would use the roof of the Observatory Tower as a vantage point to waterbomb innocent colleagues who sat on the benches below. The main laboratory housed within glass vases, such things as wax models of the embryo of a chicken or gelatine models of the typhus bacteria magnified 25,000 times.
Architect: Benjamin Woolfield Mountford. This building marked his last major contract for Canterbury College before his death.