Author(s): GEOFF RICE
Chimneys were invented to remove the smoke from fireplaces, so they are symbols of hearth and home. 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, but serve as reminders of the diverse heritage of the European chimney.
Geoff Rice is Professor of History at the University of Canterbury. His main fields of academic research include the social history of medicine and eighteenth- century British foreign policy.