Conference Title

Date, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

History of the Club

The Staff Club was formed in 1929 as the Senior Common Room, when the University was much smaller and occupied the town site. With the move out to Ilam, and the increase in staff numbers, it became clear that some suitable premises were required for the Club at Ilam.

With the generous support of the University Council and the University Grants Committee, the old Ilam Homestead was made available for this purpose. After considerable reconstruction the Homestead was opened for the use of members in March of 1971. In 1979, the 50th anniversary of the club, a small booklet was written covering the history to date. It included interesting snippets from the minutes and a list of all committee members during those years.

The Club is fortunate to occupy such attractive premises set in magnificent grounds. It is hoped that all members of staff will support the Club and take advantage of the excellent facilities provided to encourage social contact amongst members.

Ilam Homestead

ilam homesteadIlam is named for Ilam Hall in Staffordshire, England, the birthplace of John Watts-Russell (1826-1875. Ilam is Saxon for at the hills. Watts-Russell came to Canterbury in 1850 on the Sir George Seymour, one of the first four immigrant ships of the Canterbury Association. A wealthy man, he purchased 500 acres at Riccarton for three pounds per acre. He named it Ilam and built a sod hut. 

In 1858 Watts-Russell returned from a visit to Britain with 20,000 bricks, which he used to build the lower storey of a two storey house. Watts-Russell sold Ilam in 1866 and is buried in the upper Riccarton Church graveyard. Later owners of Ilam included Leonard Harper, "Ready-money" Robinson, Patrick Campbell and G D Greenwood. 

Ilam Homestead burnt down in 1910 and was rebuilt by Edgar Stead, a distinguished ornithologist. He established the wonderful azalea and rhododendron gardens. When he sold Ilam to Canterbury College in 1950 he requested that the gardens be maintained in perpetuity. Ilam Homestead became the home of the Rector (nowadays Vice-Chancellor) of Canterbury College.

Heavenly Creatures

heavenly creatures movie posterIn 1954, the Rector's daughter (Juliet Hulme) and another pupil at Girl's High School (Pauline Parker, also known as Reiper) bludgeoned to death Pauline's mother while on a picnic at Victoria Park on the Port Hills.

In 1994, Peter Jackson (of later Lord of the Rings fame) made the events into a film Heavenly Creatures. It had a budget of US$5 million dollars. Kate Winslet played Juliet and Melanie Lynskey played Pauline.

photo of Kate Winslet on our bridge

Many scenes for the film were shot in the Ilam Homestead and its grounds. Joan Earl, who went to Christchurch Girls High School and lived at the corner of Ilam Rd and Montana Ave, helped the writers with some facts about the girls, their school and Ilam Homestead.

The north lounge was decorated as a lounge and the bar lounge as a dining room. The wide opening into the present bar area was transformed into a doorway off a wood-panelled hall. Photo Gallery.