NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES
Godley Head (1865)
Godley Head before the tower was moved down the cliff face. (Date of photograph unknown)
Godley Head is situated on the Port Hills between Christchurch and it's harbour Lyttelton. The headland was named in 1900 after John Robert Godley the founder of the Canterbury settlement Christchurch. Previously the headland had been known as Awaroa by the local maori and then Cape Cashalot, this name given by a French whaler Captain Jean L'Anglois who in 1838 nearly wrecked his ship on the headland.
As Christchurch was first settled in the 1840's and 50's, and the Canterbury plains were quickly converted into pastoral run holdings for grazing sheep, wool exports from the port of Lyttelton deemed a lighthouse necessary. In 1849 Captain Thomas, Chief Surveyor for the Canterbury Association suggested a lighthouse be built at Godley Head. In 1859 finances were secured by the Canterbury Provincial Council and the planning begun.
The lighthouse tower was built from locally quarried stone and was first lit on April 1 91, 1865. The lantern was designed and built in England. Along with the tower, a double stone house was built with a slate roof. This dwelling housed both the Head and Assistant Keepers and their families.
It is a fixed light 2nd order dioptric. 91
The cost to build the lighthouse was £4705. 91
Never an isolated station, there was always a constant stream of goods and people traveling over the Port Hills road between Lyttelton and Christchurch. A track to the lighthouse branched off this road bought many visitors and enabled the keeper's children to attend school. In the 1930's a road was finally built from Evans Pass. All visitors were offered a cup of tea and slice of fruit cake from the Head Keeper's wife. Later as the number of visitors increased a charge of six pence was requested. Before the road, supplies for the light were landed by launch every three months at the base of the cliff in Mechanics Bay and pack horses hauled the supplies up the 150m cliff via a steep trail.
As fog was a problem, in 1910 a explosive fog signal was added. The fog signal, a Slaughter's Cotton Powder Explosive Signal was built down below the light on the waters edge accessed by a very hazardous path. As the signal used explosives and the rock face was unstable, using it was a risky proposition. The signal was replaced in 1927 with a compressed air warning system near the lighthouse.
In 1916 a new incandescent light replaced the old kerosene lamp.
Due to the strategic vantage point, in the 1880's fortifications were built around the lighthouse. During the Second World War the Army moved back onto the lighthouse grounds and installed a battery of six inch guns. As the lighthouse was in the direct line of fire of the guns installed, the old tower was demolished and the lantern room was moved further down the cliff face. The old keepers cottage was relocated behind the Taylor battery. About 1942 a second assistant keepers cottage was built close by.
In 1946 the lighthouse was electrified, the road was improved with a tar seal finish and later a new house was built for the remaining keeper.
The lighthouse was automated in 1976 and handed over to the Lyttelton Harbour Board. It is now under the control of the Lyttelton Port Company.
For more information on the gun emplacements
From Christchurch take Dyers Road then head east on the Summit Road till it ends at the car park. You can also use Evans Pass Road from Sumner to reach the Summit Road. A walkway heads out to the lighthouse and gun emplacements. The lighthouse and grounds are closed to the public.
64. Christchurch Star, Section C, December 8, 1999
91. Star , Issue 4872, 10 February 1894, Page 6. South Island Lighthouses
183. William Chandler (Diane Chandler, March 22, 2010)
192. John F Ericson (Trevor Meikle, May 25, 2010)
199. Edward Wilson (Lynda Webster, March 9, 2012)
198. Robert Wallace (Tim Wallace, July 7, 2013)
207. John Frederick Ericson (Lyall & Marilyn Smillie, February 18, 2010)
245. New Zealand Herald, Volume XLI, Issue 12544, 11 April 1904, Page 5
Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2013 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. email@example.com