All Fall Down: Christchurch's lost chimneys

All Fall Down Christchurch's lost chimneys

Geoff Rice

November 2011
$29.95
124pp, paperback
285 x 210mm, full colour throughout
ISBN 978-1-927145-10-4

A house without a chimney doesn’t really look like a home. Yet thousands of Christchurch houses no longer have a chimney after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. The streets look strangely different without their familiar vertical accents.

While this book was prompted by the Christchurch earthquake of September 2010, its author has long had a fascination with chimneys. He grew up in the smoggy Christchurch of the 1950s, not far from the Gasworks, and brick chimneys were all around him, both industrial and domestic, silhouetted against the red winter sunsets. He then noted the variety of British and European chimney pots seen on his travels, and realised that Christchurch had its own unique type, the Homebush pot. 

The book was first written over the summer of 2010, but then came the devastating February 2011 earthquake, with serious loss of life, and text and photographs alike had to be revisited. Many of the chimneys photographed after September were destroyed in February.

This book is a visual history of Christchurch chimneys – domestic, commercial and industrial, most of which no longer exist. While noting the quirky and unusual, it also attempts to document the typical styles of successive periods, from late Victorian to Art Deco and the latest versions on new houses, that serve as reminders of the diverse heritage of the European chimney.

That Geoffrey Rice has documented Christchurch's chimneys is remarkable, that he captured many of them in outstanding photographs just before they fell in the earthquake Is a historical gem.' Build New Zealand

Geoff Rice has recently retired as Professor of History at the University of Canterbury. His main fields of academic research included the social history of medicine and eighteenth-century British foreign policy. Black November, his account of the 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand, was shortlisted for the History section of the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and his two-volume biography of the Fourth Earl of Rochford (1717–81), British diplomat and statesman, was published in 2010. He has also published the illustrated histories Christchurch Changing and Lyttelton: Port and Town with Canterbury University Press.