… Barrett's Hotel.”…
… Barrett's Hotel.”…
How many of the thousands of people who daily walk along Lambton Quay, know, or realise, as they pass the Hotel Cecil, that on that site stood one of the most historical buildings in Wellington? This old house was the rendezvous for the principal residents of the settlement after its removal to Thorndon. There it was that their grievances were aired, societies established, business transacted, and banquets and balls held. To relate every incident of importance to the settlers that took place there, combined with the long speeches at the meetings, would in itself comprise a fair sized volume replete with very interesting matter.
A brief description of the building, taken from Carter's “Recollections of a New Zealand Colonist,” and mention of a few of the meetings held there in the short period of its existence, is given as under:—“One of Manning's houses originally brought out from England by Dr. Evans and sold to Richard Barrett, was a two-storied building, to which was added, to the right of it, a two-storied building with a pediment. This new wing projected in front of the original building. This part had a billiard room on the ground floor and a Freemasons Hall on the floor above. In 1851 the upper part of the new wing, and its Masonic Hall, was fitted up as a Council Chamber, and used by Sir George Grey as such in 1851. The part below constituted the general Government Offices of New Zealand up to the year 1853. After which, and until 1855, the first Wellington Provincial Government was installed on the lower part, and held its important and sometimes stormy meetings, with E. G. Wakefield as the clever and formidable leader of the Opposition. The left hand, or main building, was used about this time as Supreme Court, Bank of Issue and Registrar's Office. The Council Chamber was shaken down in the earthquake of 1855, fortunately the Council had adjourned for their race day.” Mr. Carter continues: “The commencement of the year 1855 was an important one in the history of Wellington. It was marked by a great event — the big earthquake of 23rd January, 1855, at 9.15 on Tuesday night. I had not been to the races, but being anxious to know what horses had won, I went, a little before nine in the evening, to the Royal Hotel (Hotel Cecil site), which was owned at one time by Munn, to hear from the landlord the race news. I had been seated but a short time when suddenly the whole of the hotel began to move violently. I jumped up from my seat in the little back parlour, and amidst the din and noise of breaking bottles and glasses, I hurried out on to the road. I could hear the waves dashing on the beach and feel the ground heaving. When I had run about 100 yards I stopped in front of the old Council Cham- page 251 bers (old Barrett's Hotel). I heard a crashing noise and I saw it enveloped in a cloud of dust. I distinguished, through the gloom of night, sufficient to convince me that this two-storied building had settled down into one, and that the upper storey now rested on the broken timbers and ruins of the lower one. About 2 a.m. on the morning after the shock, I went down to the beach and there found alarm and confusion prevailing amongst the inhabitants, and very considerable damage done to property, and that the water of the harbour had risen from two to three feet higher than it had ever been known to do before, and had flooded some of the houses along the beach. For several nights after, some of the inhabitants slept in tents on the lower slopes of the adjoining hills.…”
“I purchased the ruins of this building and portions of the furniture at auction for £50. As the original imported structure still (1871) stands, and is one of the oldest, if not the oldest public building in Wellington, a certain historical interest clings to it.”
This hotel stood on part of Sections 514 and 515, bounded by Charlotte (now Moles-worth Street), Sydney Street, and Lambton Quay.
Some of the objects of the meetings, which commenced on July 28th, 1840, when the building was in an unfinished stage, to the 2nd of February, 1848, are here mentioned, together with other occurrences:—
Selection of Town lands, 28th July, 1840.
To receive Captain Hobson's answer re the New Zealand Land Bill, 19th August.
Formation of Commercial and Agricultural Club, 2nd October.
Formal opening of the Hotel by a dinner, 22nd October.
Formation of the Wakefield Club.
Meeting re a Library and Exchange.
Formation of Cattle Company, by Mr. J. C. Crawford, Dr. Dorset, and Mr. J. Watts, 8th December.
Mr. G. Redmond, writing to a Sydney paper, states that William Vincent Wallace wrote the first part of the score of “Maritana” when living at Barrett's Hotel in 1840.
Formation of Flax Company, Messrs. Crawford, Rhodes and others, 4th January, 1841.
Anniversary Ball, 22nd January.
Banquet to Captain Shuttleworth, of ship “London,” 28th January.
Indignation Meeting regarding Auckland and Artisans, 13th February.
Indignation Meeting regarding Auckland and Artisans, 15th February.
Meeting to take steps to protect the public from the outrages of the Police, 21st March, 1841.
Meeting to commemorate the separation of the Settlements from New South Wales, 15th April.
Corporation Bill, 5th August.
Meeting to welcome Governor Hobson (400 attended), 19th August.
Reception of Governor Hobson and the Governor's apartments, 21st Aug.
Governor Hobson's Levee, crimping repudiated, 9th September.
Cattle Pound meeting, 9th September.
Meeting re greater banking facilities.
Governor's Levee, 21st January, 1842.
Meeting of Scots Church Committee, 15th September (Mr. R. R. Strang).
Race Dinner, 20th October; £50 collected in the room for third annual sports.
Formation of Jockey Club, stewards appointed, 12th November.
Mayoral Dinner, 7th April, 1843.
Meeting against proposal to divert the Cemetery site, 26th November.
Performance of “Macbeth,” 1845.
Ball to Governor and Military and Naval Officers, 1846.
Captain Grey's suite of apartments, 17th March.
Meeting regarding Defence measures, 18th May.
Ball, by invitation, 21st January, 1847.
Subscription Ball, 2nd February, 1848.
The top portion of Hotel demolished by earthuake, 1855.
Lambton Quay, 1841. Fig. 112.—Reading from the left: 1. Mr. S. Hill's, 2. Cook's, 3. Library and Church (site of temporary War Memorial), 4. Barrett's Hotel (Hotel Cecil site), 5. Colonel Wakefield's (with flagstaff), 6. Hay and Co., 7. Thistle Inn, 8. Bolton Row (Emigrants buildings), 9. Hornbrook's, 10. Todd's store, 11. Harrison's. —From a sketch by Luke Nattrass, 1841.
Fig. 113.—The Quay, 1866. The Church of England site (later Government House coach houses and guardroom) to the left. Government House with the flagstaff. Barrett's Corner in the foreground on the right. Provincial Buildings and Roman Catholic Cathedral are beyond, in front of Golders Hill.
Fig. 114.—The Quay, 1866, showing the Government Printing Offices (portion of Barrett's old hotel) to the left; Hatfield's Hotel and Munn's Wharf; Brown and Ross' stables; Magnusson's, Clements and Dawson, St. Paul's School, Sydney Street, on the extreme left; near by is the gable end of the old Methodist Church. The Tinakori Hills in the background.
The locality of Barrett's old hotel is shown in a panoramic view of the foreshore (Lambton Quay) about 1868, where is seen the old Government Printing Office, which was destroyed by fire on the 8th October, 1890.
Hatfield's Royal Hotel, and the wharf in front, are shown. Next to the hotel was a vacant lot or road way, at one end of which was a large building in Sydney Street; beyond the building can be seen a firebell tower, while to the left (looking up Sydney Street) are seen the Sydney Street Schoolroom and a gable of the Methodist Church opposite. To the left of the schoolroom, above the old Government Printing Office, may be seen Hill Street and Golder's Hill residences. The Provincial Buildings (Parliamentary Library site), and the spire of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral complete the group of buildings in the vicinity. The Cathedral was destroyed by fire on the 28th November, 1898.
Three buildings occupied the block between the hotel to the corner of Mulgrave and Sydney Street.
Referring to the panoramic sketch of 1841, a glance at the sketch reveals the house used as a public library, and religious services for different denominations, after the destruction by fire of the Post Office, Court House and Church referred to as the “Barn of all Work” in Wakefield's Adventure, pp. 399–530. On the hill to the left stood Colonel Wakefield's house, afterwards Government House, and the site of that portion near Bowen Street, of the Parliamentary Buildings with the tower.
Messrs H. Cook's stores were on the corner of Kumutoto Street (Bowen Street) shown on the 1870 view as Brandon's Office and Corner. Eleven unnamed buildings stood between Cook's stores and the Durham Arms, next to the Wakefield Club, in front of which a sailing boat is seen on the water. Further to the south were Allan's, the Mechanics' Hall and Institute, Wm. Lyon, Waters and Smith (between the Club and Woodward Street), Grace's Academy, corner of Woodward Street (now Druids' Chambers site), the store of Durie and Co. adjoined. Bethune and Co.'s stores were about six doors away from Durie's, and near Willis and Co.'s stores. These were all swept away by a fire in 1842. Major Heaphy's house is seen on Flagstaff Hill, above Clay Point or Stewart Dawson corner, and Nattrass' house behind Willis's store.
Two Maoris are seen paddling a canoe in the sea where the King's Chambers is now standing, and on the beach behind are the places of W. B. Burgess and Wallace and Co. Other buildings between France's store at the south-west extremity of the harbour (now Corner of Willis and Boulcott Street) are seen on this sketch.
Another sketch by Major Heaphy, a copy of which was presented to the Museum by Mrs. Shortland, shows the line of beach from Willis and Co.'s stores to Bellsize Point (Davis Street).
Fig. 115.—Lambton Quay, 1841. No. 1. is Bethune and Hunters, 2. Major Durie's, 3. Grace's Academy, 4. Waters and Smith, 5. Wm. Lyon (Note: Whitcombe's is north of Mechanics' Institute), 6. Mechanics' Institute and Library, 7. Allans, 8. Wakefield Club, 9. Durham Arms Hotel. —From a sketch by Luke Nattrass.
Fig. 116.—The Quay, 1874. The Nelson Inn (now Central Hotel) is on the left (the first Scotch Church, shown above, is embodied in the dining room). The church in the centre of the picture, St. Andrew's (second church), was removed to Tinakori Road and is now (1929) used as St. Paul's Churchroom. The Athenaeum is to the left of the church, and is the site of the Exchange, to be demolised in the near future. The vacant plot in the foreground is now occupied by the Union Bank of Australia.
The Burgess Roll. of 1843, gives the names of residents of the Beach, or Lambton Quay, who paid a pound deposit for the privilege to vote.
The following advertisement appeared in the newspaper (Gazette, April 26th, 1845): “Lambton Quay, or Strand, Britannia, a freehold allotment, 48ft frontage, with building at present in occupation by Mr. A. Haase, was sold for £48.”
Mr. J. Hurley notified in the Almanac for 1853, that he had timber for sale, and requested his customers to apply at the sawmills (Porirua Road), or to his bullock driver, when on the beach with timber.
The Nelson Hotel (Central) notified extenive alterations to their hotel, and that good stabling was assured. (“Independent,” 21/1/1857.) The writer was informed that the old Scotch Kirk opposite (Fig. 117), was absorbed in these “extensive” alterations.
A sale of Harbour Reserves appeared in the “Independent,” July 31st, 1858. The proclamation was signed by Wm. Fitzherbert, Provincial Secretary. The sale was dated 1st September, 1858. Amongst the lots were: Lot 9, Lambton Quay, 30ft frontage, at £12 per foot; a small house was on this lot, the property of Mr. Hewit. Lot 25, of 54ft frontage, for £8 per foot.
Fig. 118.—Laying the foundation stone of the Oddfellows' Hall, 1859, on the present site of the T. and G. Building, corner of Grey Street. —From an old print in the writer's collection.
Fig. 119.—The Quay in the sixties. No. 1. Vennell's, 2. Johnson's, 3. Prosser's, 4. Crown and Anchor (Commercial), 5. Ashton's, 6. E. W. Mills, 7. Lewis Moss. Mr. Hoggard's house is on the hill, and Mr.Hay's to the right of it. The Kelburn cable car avenue is on the extreme right.