This electrostatic generator, known as a Wimshurst machine, was named after the inventor James Wimshurst. It belonged in the Physics Department at Canterbury College while the College was still based at its original site (now The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora) in Christchurch’s central city.  Set upon a wooden stand with turned legs, the machine is operated by a crank handle which turns the two rotating plates. There is a small gold plaque attached which reads “Physics Department, C.U.C.”


This distinctive machine may have been built in-house by the Department and may date back as far as the 1880s when Wimshurst machines were first developed. Phyiscs was one of the first subjects taught at Canterbury College, when its first professor, A. W. Bickerton, was appointed in 1874.

Browse more of the Canterbury College collection online.

CCS0156 Wimshurst Machine
CCS0156 – Wimshurst Machine