Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ruins of the Castle Hill Hotel, Canterbury


A postcard featuring a set of lost ruins in New Zealand -- I couldn't resist. The card is dated 1910, which seems likely. In 1906 (see below), the ruined hotel did at least have something of a roof left. The hotel seems to have started with two business partners running a store in Canterbury.


Christchurch Press 28 October 1865

Then, in January 1866, Michael D'Arcy applied for a conditional Public House license. He got the license, which had the following conditions to it:

1. All the premises to be kept in good repair. To provide in his house, besides the tap-room, or room answering as such, one public and one private sitting-room.

2. To provide not less than seven beds for travellers, in not less than seven separate bedrooms.

3. To provide a shed sufficiently weathertight and fit for the accommodation of at least four horses.

4. At all times to keep a proper supply of water for the house, and for horses and cattle, and to provide in a convenient position a proper trough for watering cattle.

5. To keep at all times a proper supply of oats and oaten or grass hay.

6. To provide and keep in repair a good and sufficient stockyard for cattle, containing a superficial area of not less than 225 square yards. For the occupation of this yard during the night, the licensee may make a charge at rates not exceeding the following, viz.:—Twopence per head for all cattle under 50 in number, and one penny per head for all over that number.

7. To provide and keep in repair a good and sufficient moveable sheep-proof yard, containing a superficial area of not less than 500 square yards or, at the option of the licensee, to keep one acre of land enclosed by a permanent sheep-proof fence. For the occupation of this yard or paddock during the night, the licensee may make a charge at rates not exceeding the following, viz. pence per score for all sheep under 300 in number, fourpence per score for all over that number and under 500, and twopence per score for all over 500.

8. To keep a lamp burning, with two burners, from sunset to sunrise, giving a sufficiently bright light, and being so lighted as to be conspicuous from a distance all around the house.

9. To be sworn in and act as a constable, especially when required by the Magistrates or the Police.

10. On all occasions to render every assistance and to supply information to Magistrates and to the Police in the execution of their duty.

11. To keep a clean and orderly house, and to render it as comfortable for the accommodation of travellers as the circumstances of position and distance from towns will fairly allow.

12. The licence to be cancelled by order of any three Justices of the Peace, if it be proved to their satisfaction that any of the conditions of the licence are not regularly fulfilled, or if any drunkenness be proved to have been allowed on the premises, or if any spirits shall be supplied from the house or premises to any aboriginal native of New Zealand.

13. A printed or fairly written copy of these conditions, and a tariff of all charges, to be kept at all times posted up in some conspicuous place in the tap-room, and all the sitting-rooms, for the information of travellers.

14. To provide a Visitors' Book, which shall be kept in the custody of the licensee, but whenever asked for shall be produced to visitors and lodgers for the insertion of any remark on the accommodation or attendance; a notice to this effect to be kept posted in the same manner as the Tariff of Charges. The book to be open at all times to inspection by Magistrates or the Police, and to be sent to the Clerk of the Bench at Christchurch a week before the Annual Licensing Meeting, for the purpose of being produced at that meeting.


W. Kinnedy, Photo. Cloudesley's hotel, Castle Hill. (New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 01 April 1900). Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/2665461

In July 1869, D'Arcy transferred the license to Frederick Harris. In 1873, after falling afoul of the law re serving an intoxicated customer and the death of his wife Margaret, Harris transferred to Mauritz du Place. A few months later, du Place transferred to James G Burgess. He was followed by George Glansford in 1876.

In the 1880s, W Cloudesley took over the hotel. The stable burned down in August 1890, but the hotel continued, proving a popular stop on the West Coast Road for coach travellers. The owner had the good fortune to have a hotel on a coach road when tourism in New Zealand was starting to hit its stride.

Castle Hill Hotel, a fine, roomy structure, built with the stone of the district, is a popular resort for those who are run down in health, and want rest and quiet together with the bracing air of the mountain. 

Ashburton Guardian 23 March 1896


 Christchurch Press 7 September 1897

Then, in October 1904, the hotel burned down, when it was owned by Fletcher, Humphreys and Co of Christchurch. Although the licensee applied for a temporary license, saying that the hotel would be rebuilt, nothing happened, and the license lapsed in December that year.

The absence of the accommodation which existed at Castle Hill, on the Christchurch-West Coast road, prior to the destruction by fire of the hotel there is, according to a gentleman in this city who recently drove over the ranges, much missed. Travellers by coach have now to wait until they reach Craigieburn before they can obtain a cup of tea, and much inconvenience is experienced by cyclists and others who desire a night's lodging. At present accommodation is obtainable at a station in the vicinity, but it is stated to be inadequate at this time of the year for the number requiring it.
 Christchurch Press 10 January 1905

My comrades will readily understand my feelings when I spied the outline of an old hotel looming out of the dense fog. This I afterwards discovered was the ruins of an old halfway house called the Castle Hill Hotel. Now, most folk are not given to praying while on a journey, but somehow or other I was prompted with a feeling of dire gratitude towards Providence for condescending to allow part of this old ruin to remain intact. I dived through the vacancy in the mud wall caused by the recent collapse of the chimney, leaving my boneshaker and personal effects outside to weather the storm as best- they might. I soon gleaned from the aspect of this new-found domicile that it afforded ample means and space for a night's lodgings so I decided to drop anchor until such time as the elements should find it convenient to be a bit more favourable.

Well, I set to to light a fire, finding that the chaos of old newspapers which was lying about formed a very effective means of doing so. Unloosing the bundle from my bike, I extracted from its assorted contents my infallible and indispensable tin billy. Filling and refilling this with snow, I soon got it full by melting it, so that after a space of a few minutes I was comfortably seated on the mud floor enjoying a meal which I did not dare to name, for the simple reason that I could not exactly determine what time it was, as my clock (the sun) had long since disappeared behind the sullen mass of snowclouds ... I lay back on my blankets, and presently a glorious feeling of drowsiness stole over me. For a while I was conscious of a sense of drifting through interminable space, then all was vacuum, silence, emptiness. The next thing I remembered was a cold, splashing sort of sensation on my forehead, and on coming back to full sense of the situation I perceived that this was due to a puncture in the roof, through which the melting snow gained access owing to the reappearance of the sun over the hilltop. I again boiled the billy with some of the remaining papers, after which I regenerated the source of my physical energy by eating such a hearty breakfast that I was half afraid the cavity by which I entered the hut would not be large enough to let me out again.

Otago Witness, 25 April & 2 May 1906

In the old coaching days the halfway house between Springfield and Arthur's Pass was the Castle Hill Hotel. A desolate heap of white ruins, crouching at the feet of a squad of pine trees is all that remains of the one-time busy hostel. Many a fortune-hunter must have stopped here for refreshment, and many a motley train of pilgrims the inn must have witnessed, all scurrying towards their El Dorado, by waggon, horseback or on foot.

After 1936 -- the ruins appear to have disappeared.


Update 28 June 2013:
This just in from fellow blogger/researcher Writer of the Purple Sage:

"Thought you'd be interested in this piece (and photo) detailing another proprietor of said hotel, one Colin Campbell McLachlan, who took over the hotel in 1902. I wonder if perhaps he was a manager installed by the owners Fletcher, Humphreys and Co of Christchurch. If so, he was almost certainly in place at the time of the 1904 fire.

"This site also has some interesting background on another of the hotel's owners, W J Cloudesley (did you know he also owned a coal mine in the area?) ... "

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