36 London Street, Salvation Army Barracks

36 London Street, Lyttelton

36 London Street, Lyttelton

Salvation Army Barracks/ former Buffalo Lodge.

Date of Building: 1902.
Architects: unknown
Materials of construction: brick and stone faced brick columns and cornices.
Situated on Part Section 39, Town of Lyttelton

On 18 October 1855 a Crown Grant was made of the Lyttelton town sections nos. 33 to 42 to Jesse Watts Russell and two others. Part of Section 39, later to be no. 36 London Street, was leased for a number of years by Richard Wormald and later his wife. On the death of John Charles Watts Russell in 1875 the land was left to his wife Elizabeth, but was transferred to Alfred Creyke two years later when he married Watts Russell’s widow. After Creyke’s death in 1893 the land in question was divided and a title issued for no. 36 in 1898. In early 1902 ownership of the section at 36 London Street was transferred to General William Booth, of the Salvation Army London, for £340, ‘purchased and held for religious purposes only’

The first service of the Salvation Army in Christchurch had taken place in the Gaiety Theatre in May 1883, and the Christchurch City Corps was formed a month later. Following the formation of the Sydenham Corps in August 1883, members would walk over the hills to Lyttelton to hold open-air meetings on the corner of Oxford and London streets.

The Lyttelton Corps opened in March 1884, with Annie White as the first officer in charge. After some years operating out of different premises around Lyttelton, the Army acquired the property at 36 London Street where the new Barracks were built.

These were opened by the Mayor of Lyttelton, Mr. J. Grubb, on 11 September 1902.

The exterior of the building was constructed of brick with stone-faced pilasters and cornice ornamentation, with the resultant fortress-like effect reflecting the military nature of the Salvation Army hierarchy. The relatively plain ornamentation also spoke of the commitment to spend minimal funds on the building and retain more for the relief of the poor.

The new building was put to good use for annual harvest festivals, public talks and, in 1912, a memorial service for General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. In addition the Salvation Army Barracks featured early promotional and Temperance films prior to the building of the Harbour Lights Cinema in 1917.

After the death of General Booth the title for the property was transferred in 1913 to another General Booth, presumably his son Bramwell who had succeeded as commander of the Army. Finally in 1932 the property title was transferred to the Salvation Army Trust Board. The Lyttelton corps closed its doors in February 1959, however the use to which the building was put then is unknown.

The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes next owned the hall, supposedly from the 1960s. The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (sometimes reported as the Royal and Ancient Order of Buffaloes) was represented by the Royal Lyttelton Lodge No. 754, which dated from March 1888. Weekly meetings took place in Brother Schmidt’s Railway Hotel and numbers steadily grew. The Buffaloes were incorporated in July 1892 to form a Grand Lodge of New Zealand. In 1895 the Lyttelton Lodge met with other Christchurch Lodges to form a Sick Benefit Society for the benefit of their members, and two years later took part in the official procession through the streets of Lyttelton which commemorated Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

In 1900 the Lyttelton Lodge changed its number to 4429 No.14, then in 1923 was inaugurated as the Lyttelton Lodge New Zealand No. 8 Banner, Grand Lodge 6461. The group met in the Forresters’ Hall in St David’s Street until 1924 when they moved to the Oddfellows’ Hall in Winchester Street. Some meetings were also held at Rapaki until 1937. By 1934 the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes had bought the premises of the Poultry Club in London Street, and by the 1950s had over 400 members. The group was not officially registered as a Friendly Society but operated as a social club with benefits payable.

By 1964 the Lyttelton Lodge had moved to the old Salvation Army barracks at 36 London Street and at some point made extensive alterations to the interior, including painting over the external brick and masonry work. According to a long-standing member of the Lodge, Jim Price, a mezzanine floor extended across the rear of the building and was fitted out to accommodate overnight visitors. At one point the Lodge planned to extend this floor and convert the space to bed-sits but this work was not carried out.

The Lodge retained title to the property until 1997 when The Door, a Lyttelton Street Church (an offshoot of the Celebration Centre in Christchurch) opened in the building. In 2002 the owners converted it to an ‘arts community-café’. Unfortunately they removed the original wooden doors and sash windows and replaced them with aluminium ones, further damaging the masonry in the process.

In February 2011 the building at 36 London Street was extensively damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes, and was demolished later that year.


  • Lyttelton Library Information File: 36 London Street, Buffalo Lodge, Former Salvation Army Barracks
  • Johnson, John. The story of Lyttelton, Lyttelton Borough Council, 1952
  • Tihema, James T. Lyttelton Lodge No. 8, R.A.O.B., G.L.E. New Zealand, The Lodge, 1983
  • Papers Past
  • Rossie, Liza. Original research notes and material on Lyttelton built heritage.

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