Healthy Living in Christchurch: Thomas Edmonds and Radiant Health
New ideas about spirituality, health, healing and psychology abounded in the late 19th century and Christchurch was not immune. Christchurch businessman Thomas Edmonds, best known for his development of the Edmonds Sure to Rise baking powder, was interested in many new ideas. He was a philanthropist, provided a high standard of working environment for his employees (including the famous factory gardens), supported theosophy and helped found a Radiant Health Club. He was interested in philosophy and astronomy and was a friend of Professor Alexander Bickerton.
Thomas Edmonds (1858 1932)
Thomas Edmonds was born in London and arrived in Lyttelton in 1879. He began as a grocer on Ferry Road before developing his famous baking powder product Edmonds Sure to Rise. The distinctive architecture of his factory in Ferry Road (now demolished) and the famous Sure to Rise sunray motif reflected his interest in the therapeutic qualities of the sun. He became interested in the Radiant Health movement and was involved in the foundation of the Christchurch Radiant Health Club whose objectives included:
To study and practise Christian Psychology: To study and practise Diet; To study and practise Solar Plexus Breathing; To serve the sick in the community. The Radiant Hall (now the Repertory Theatre) was built initially for the club.
Edmonds contributed a number of other distinctive buildings to the city including the Edmonds’ Band Rotunda and shelter, the Clock Tower with telephone and letter box. He hoped his gifts would encourage others to make Christchurch a beautiful Garden City and this is also reflected in the gardens he established in the grounds of his factory. He was also a significant contributor of funds to build the Theosophical Society building on Cambridge Terrace and was sympathetic to the teachings of theosophy.
Thomas Edmonds resources
- Legacy of Thomas Edmonds - digitised illustrated booklet in the Architectural Heritage of Christchurch series.
- Radiant Living - about the School of Radiant Living movement and its founder Dr Herbert Sutcliffe. From New Zealand History online.
- Edmonds cookbooks pick up a copy of one of our classic Edmonds cookbooks.