Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

10 November 2009

West Oxford Hotel

 I wrote and illustrated ‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’. It was published in 1995 and was a snapshot of some New Zealand pubs as they were at the end of the 20th century. I have decided to share some of the entries from the book from time to time on this blog.

The first licence in Oxford was granted to William Satchell in 1859. His ‘pub’ was a four-roomed accommodation house. It was taken over by Salathiel Redfern who promptly put up the two-storeyed Oxford Hotel. Next came David Fisher’s Forest Inn of 1863, which was later named the Terminus Hotel (historical clues are in both names for there was a large forest near Oxford and there were two railway lines with stations at East and West Oxford). Pub number three, the Harewood Arms, built by a sawmiller named Luers, went up in 1864. They’ve all gone.

In July 1878 William Paget raised the Commercial Hotel. The licence had been granted on the condition that the pub was up within a month - imagine that happening nowadays! Designed by architect Jacobson of Christchurch, it was declared ‘one of the finest country hotels in the province’, and is now the West Oxford Hotel, the survivor of Oxford’s first four pubs. Paget owned livery stables opposite his hotel and every Saturday he’d hitch up a brougham and collect thirty thirsty sawmillers from Coopers Creek in Oxford Forest and bring them to the pub. (In so doing he anticipated ‘Dial-a-Driver’ service by over a hundred years!).

‘The West’, its solid walls a tribute to the craftsmen who built it, still offers accommodation and good service - although the ornate bells in the passageways no longer ring to summon chambermaids.

Under some straggly old pines in the adjacent paddock is a classical old two-door lock-up, looking a bit the worse for wear. It was brought there from the Heathcote Valley in 1869. No notable criminals languished in its darkness but it’s said that Michael Leahy, constable, locked-up a miscreant one night for being drunk in charge of a horse and dray. Leahy, next day unlocked the gaol door to find an even drunker drunk: he had forgotten that the cells contained a considerable amount of confiscated liquor!


No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Archive

Hits Counter


Loaded Web

Blog Directory for Albany, New Zealand


Blog This Here

Blog Flux

Commentary blogs
Blog Directory


  • <$BlogCommentAuthor$> // <$BlogCommentDateTime$>


By Don Donovan