The Worthington Riots, 1897
The only occasion when the Riot Act was read in Christchurch was on 26 September 1897, when Arthur Bently Worthington, the religious impostor, attempted for the third Sunday in succession to hold a public meeting. Hostile crowds had disturbed his earlier meetings but on 26 September the entire Christchurch police force, which had been concentrated outside the Oddfellows' Hall, was faced by a crowd estimated at 6,000 people. When Worthington and his friends emerged from the building and attempted to enter a cab, the crowd made a determined rush forcing the police back to within a few yards of the vehicle. At this critical moment a Magistrate climbed on to the box of the cab and read the Riot Act. Mounted constables, using their batons freely, were able to clear Lichfield Street sufficiently to allow Worthington to depart under police escort. A large crowd again assembled outside the Oddfellows' Hall the following Sunday. The Mayor, Magistrates, and a strong force of policemen were present but there was no disorder. Worthington soon afterwards left Christchurch to return to Australia.