Styx History Group & Belfast District Museum
History of Museum
The Belfast District Museum (top right above) was constructed by local people in 1985, and the building was opened in October of that year by Margaret Murray, Chairman of the Waimairi District Council. The front of the building was constructed to be in keeping with the historic schoolmaster's house (to its left in the photograph above) which had been built more than a century earlier, in 1877. Donated items had community ownership in the name "Belfast District Museum".
The Museum was operated from 1985 to 2006 by a sub-committee of the Kapuatohe Historic Reserve Management Committee, then from 2007 to 2013, by the Belfast District Museum Trust (Inc), with major financial assistance from the Styx History Group (formed 1999).
With local authority amalgamation in 1989, the "new" Christchurch City Council assumed ownership of both building and contents. In 2007, BDMT was established at Council's request to take on the ownership of the museum's holdings and to operate the museum, on behalf of the community. However, in 2010, it was claimed that staff had overlooked having the transfer (of ownership of the museum's holdings) ratified by Council in 2007. That was an interesting claim, as Council had asked BDMT to insure items in the museum, and had transferred to BDMT the cost of a telephone line used solely for the monitoring of the museum's security system! A retrospective transfer of contents' ownership - which should have taken place as of right - was even opposed by one local group! A local person had been instrumental in Council funding to BDMT being cut off from 2008, and had it not been for SHG funding its operation, BDMT would have been forced to wind up much earlier.
With no Museum to operate from February 2011 (and apparently no authority to do so, anyway!) the Trust felt that it had no option but to wind up, which it did 21 June 2013.
The Museum was previously open on the first Sunday of the month, from September to May, from 2 pm to 4 pm, or by arrangement. Currently - 2016 - the Museum is closed due to 2010-2011 earthquake damage, and it is not known when (or even if) it will be able to be re-opened. Our Group now has no connection with the Museum other than to promote its existence, as part of our role of promoting the history of the area. The email contact on this website is for the Styx History Group, NOT the Council's Museum.
We know the building was repaired in 2020, and was able to be re-opened, but have no information on when/if it will be re-opened. That is over to the Council and our Group will not be involved.
The Museum houses hundreds of objects from the history of the Belfast district (including a 1928 Chevrolet car). It also has a collection of almost 1,800 photographs, many of which are available for sale as image files on CD through the Styx History Group at a reasonable cost. It was the purchase of historical photographs by SHG that enabled the Trust to operate in its final years.
History of Styx Area
The history of the Styx area (of which Belfast is a small part) is outlined in a number of publications (such as many of those listed on the "Books" page).