Tony Kennett Kennett’s Jewellers

Artesian well water and electricity

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In those days my Grandfather worked in the window … till about 1905.  All the watchmakers in Christchurch did … for natural light.


Tony Kennett


Christchurch Lighting

Prior to the establishment of the City Council in 1862, the city was lit by just a handful of kerosene lamps. The City Council set about installing more, but shortly afterwards, in 1864, the gasworks opened (see below) and the Council came to an agreement with the Gas Company to supply gas to street lights. New gas lights were installed and most of the kerosene lamps converted to gas…


Street lighting was a municipal responsibility from the start. The transition from kerosene and candle lamps to gas lamps was made relatively early and quickly after the gasworks began production in the 1860s. The later transition from electricity followed the arrival of power from Lake Coleridge in 1915, although there were prior electric lights based on the city’s two steam power stations.

John Wilson, ‘Contextual Historical Overview for Christchurch City’, contextual study for Christchurch City Council, June 2005, p. 59-62



In February 1864 the first public artesian well was drilled at the corner of Tuam and High Streets.  At 80 feet water was struck and the pressure was sufficient to force the water more than 10 feet above the ground level.


Christchurch Aquifers

‘Christchurch was highly unusual in acquiring a sewage system long before it had a high-pressure water supply. For the first decade and a half, Christchurch households drew their water supplies from the rivers, from shallow wells or from rainwater tanks. In the absence of an effective sewage system, water from these sources quickly became contaminated, which contributed to the poor health record of early Christchurch. The problem was solved by the discovery of abundant supplies of artesian water from aquifers that lay under most of the city. By the end of 1864 the City Council had drilled seven more wells. A very large number of private wells were also drilled in the following years. Many households used ram pumps which used the pressure in the artesian system to lift the water into tanks on stands which ensured an even, high-pressure supply in the house.’

 John Wilson, ‘Contextual Historical Overview for Christchurch City’, contextual study for Christchurch City Council, June 2005, p. 58


  • Image: Kennett Family Collection
  • Image: Kennett Family Collection
  • Painting by Raymond Morris

Building information

Kennett’s Jewellers 209 (& 211) High Street Architect: Clarkson and Ballantyne Date: 1902 – 1903