One fi­nal walk through the old sports sta­dium

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - WHAT’S ON - JONATHAN GUILDFORD

A group who helped main­tain Christchurch’s Lan­caster Park for many years took a trip down memory lane as they walked through the old sta­dium for the last time.

The life mem­bers of the Vic­tory Park Board, who vol­un­teered a lot of their time at the park, went on one last walk to­gether through the stripped sta­dium on Wed­nes­day.

Martin How­man said it meant a lot to the group to go back through the earth­quakedam­aged sta­dium be­fore it was com­pletely pulled down. See­ing the sta­dium go was like hav­ing a death in the fam­ily, but it needed to be done, he said.

How­man rem­i­nisced about times the sta­dium was pump­ing with noise as 60,000 peo­ple packed in to watch con­certs.

The ground’s ex­ten­sive his­tory would live on well after it was de­mol­ished, he said.

‘‘It’s in the bones of the ground with the memo­rial gates, lots of peo­ple that were in­volved in the ground had their ashes spread here.’’

Mur­ray Inglis and Craig Sul­li­van re­mem­bered how the site was home to three rugby fields in the 1950s.

Inglis said the park be­came a ‘‘sea of bikes’’ on Satur­days as every­one rode there to play and watch rugby.

See­ing the dras­tic changes to the sta­dium over the years left Inglis feel­ing quite emo­tional.

‘‘It brings a tear to my eye to see what it is now. So many mem­o­ries.’’

How­man hoped the site would once again be­come a sports fa­cil­ity. Fel­low life mem­ber Don McKendry said he hoped the Lan­caster Park Cricket Club would re­turn to the his­toric ground.

Christchurch City Coun­cil sta­dium de­con­struc­tion man­ager Lee Butcher said the last tour around the sta­dium was a nice send off for the board’s life mem­bers.

‘‘It’s nice to walk around with the vast ma­jor­ity of them now and share that ex­pe­ri­ence with them ... be­cause once it’s gone it’s gone.’’

The Vic­tory Park Act ap­pointed the Vic­tory Park Board to ad­min­is­ter Lan­caster Park in 1919.

The de­con­struc­tion of Lan­caster Park is be­lieved to be one of the big­gest de­mo­li­tion jobs un­der­taken in New Zealand. It is ex­pected to take be­tween 12 and 14 months to com­plete.

JOSEPH JOHN­SON/STUFF

Vic­tory Park Board mem­bers look at the de­mo­li­tion that has started on the Tui Stand at Christchurch’s old Lan­caster Park.

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