Normal School.

cover image The architectural heritage of Christchurch. 1

Published by the Town Planning Division, Christchurch City Council, 1982.

The Christchurch Normal School, opened in April 1876, was the first normal (or model) school in New Zealand. It was built to provide a "normal" school environment, where teacher trainees could observe experienced teachers in a classroom situation. When this function was transferred to Elmwood School in 1954, the building became the training centre for the post-primary Department of the Christchuch Teachers’ College. It was vacated when the college moved to llam in 1970.

The building occupied a commanding position on Cranmer Square, about five minutes’ walk north-west from Cathedral Square. It gave a valued sense of scale and enclosure to the north-eastern corner of Cranmer Square, and created a satisfying visual balance with the former Christchurch Girls’ High School on the opposite side.


  • Plans for a new school and teachers’ college
  • The architect (Samuel Farr)
  • Construction
  • The builder (Daniel Rees)
  • The stone mason (William Brassington)
  • Chronology
  • Glossary

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