Is Sockburn disappearing from the city?

LOCAL IDENTITIES: Long-time Sockburn residents Bryan Mooar and Eddie Cutts at the Sockburn roundabout.

Sockburn has been mentioned in city records for 140 years, but local identities say their suburb is under siege.

Former Paparua County clerk and Sockburn resident of 49 years, Bryan Mooar, believed the growth of the Wigram subdivisions have played a large role in the demise of Sockburn.

Mr Mooar was at the Paparua County Council for 25 years, 13 of those as clerk, until it amalgamated with Christchurch in 1989.

Sockburn resident of 68 years Eddie Cutts agreed with Mr Mooar’s views.

Mr Cutts is the grandson of Albert Cutts, who once owned Chokebore Lodge, which was associated with horse racing.

“It’s disappearing because we’ve got the very big Wigram [residential] complex at the old airport, together with the retirement villages,” Mr Mooar said.

He said other factors that have fuelled the decline of the area was the 2011 closures of the former Sockburn Service Centre and the suburb’s last major freezing works, the Alliance Freezing Company.

The Alliance freezing works was at the former site of the city abattoir on Racecourse Rd.

Another closure that affected the area was the Sockburn swimming pool, which shut down in 2006, Mr Mooar said.

“The old abattoir was an old identity and provided a lot of job availability for people in the area,” he said.

Recently the Sockburn Fire Station was renamed Wigram and next year Sockburn School will move to Wigram.

“It’s not just quietly disappearing . . . it’s being gobbled up,” Mr Mooar said.

He believed the future of
the suburb was industrial and there was no way to stop the suburb being taken over.

“It’s just a matter of progress, the city expanding and it’s only one or two kilometres from Riccarton Rd, which is a main route,” Mr Mooar said.

He did not feel sad about Sockburn being eroded away, as he believed it was for the greater good of the city.

Mr Cutts said much of Sockburn has already disappeared as the area was known for its horse racing stables.

He believed the city’s population growth has negatively impacted the racing history of the area.

“It’s disappearing now, all that land by the Riccarton Racecourse is being gobbled up developers for high-density living.

“Racecourse Rd and the surrounding streets had horses going to the track every morning and now you’re not even allowed a horse on the road. So Sockburn has lost its identity.”

Mr Cutts wished his children and grandchildren enjoyed the area like he was able to.

“But you can’t live in the past unfortunately, I would like to though. We used to go over to the racecourse and disappear for the day, play in the pits, shoot rabbits and fly kites.”

City library records showed that Sockburn was first mentioned in 1878, in an advertisement in The Press.

It was referred to as the “old racecourse platform (Sockburn)”.

Library records showed that Sockburn was the name of an hold homestead of a farm, which occupied the site where the city abattoir stood on Racecourse Rd.

The railway platform on Alloy St was first called Racecourse, because it served the Riccarton Racecourse.

The platform was later moved to Hornby but a need developed for a new station on the original site. When this was built it was given the name Sockburn.

In 1903, the Cyclopedia of New Zealand described Sockburn as a farming suburb, which was rapidly becoming a residential suburb.

The book stated that Sockburn was home to a number of abattoirs belonging to the city council. There were also several training stables in the neighbourhood.

In 1916, the suburb had an airport to its name, but it was renamed after the former mayor Sir Henry Wigram in 1923.

The area was part of the Paparua County Council until 1989, when it amalgamated with the Christchurch City Council.

Since the turn of the 21st-century, population figures indicated slow growth in the area.

City council statistics showed that from 2001 to 2016, the population of Hornby/Sockburn grew from 16,000 to an estimated 17,800.

In the same period, the population of Halswell/Wigram jumped from 19,000 to an estimated 26,000.

BACK IN THE DAY: Pens of pullets at Fazackerley’s poultry farm, Sockburn, 1926. Obtained from the collection, and used with permission of, Christchurch City Libraries.

RICH HISTORY: Christchurch City Abattoir, Sockburn, Christchurch , about 1900. Obtained from the collection, and used with permission of, Christchurch City Libraries.

FARMING: Poultry raising and egg production Fazackerley’s poultry farm, Sockburn, 1926. Obtained from the collection, and used with permission of, Christchurch City Libraries.