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Excelsior Bottle Shop

Situated at 213 High Street, this building was constructed in the last decades of the nineteenth century served as a commercial premises until its demolition in 2011.

In February 1878, both Lot 1 and Lot 2 of Town Section 984 were advertised for sale. Lot 1 was described as ‘…all that piece or parcel of land…upon which is erected that large two storied building known as the Borough Hotel.’ While Lot 2 was described as ‘…having a frontage of 30 feet, adjoining the Borough Hotel, in High Street, Christchurch, by a depth of 54 feet, upon which are erected shops and buildings.’ Lot 2 appears to have remained unsold, as in May, the section of land adjoining the Borough Hotel and facing High Street was advertised for sale, after having been divided into two sections.

The Borough Hotel became known as Barrett’s Borough Hotel after John Barrett acquired the license in April 1878. A photograph depicting the former hotel (with Barrett’s name) shows the original adjoining buildings on High Street. Visible are two timber buildings, including the saddlery store of Thomas Copping. A new Borough Hotel was built in 1881-1882 and designed by William Barnett Armson. A photograph dated to 1885 shows that a stone and brick building, which wraps the corner of High Street, adjacent to the new Borough Hotel, had replaced the former timber buildings.

The new building, which was designed to accommodate two shops, shares similar architectural styles with the adjacent Borough Hotel. Two storeys in height, the first floor featured six windows, each framed with rusticated brickwork and topped by a cornice. Beneath each window was a balustrade feature, similar to that found beneath the windows of the first floor of the Borough Hotel. The two shops originally had the address of 183 and 185 High Street.

The first owner of the building was possibly B.J. Hale, a shoemaker. Although D.F. Franklin Family Grocer and Tea Dealer was operating at 183 High Street in January 1884, in March 1885, Hale advertised for a tenant to replace Franklin. However, after Franklin’s business vacated the premises, Hale opened the Globe Boot and Shoe Depot in the premises on 25 July 1885.

W.A. Box, draper, appears to have been one of the first occupants of 185 High Street, the shop that adjoined the Borough Hotel. In September 1885 the premises was advertised for lease and described as ‘…consisting of Commodious Double-fronted Shop, and Three Rooms…’

The occupancy of 183 High Street by the Globe Boot and Shoe Depot was perhaps only intended to be temporary as by December 1886, Robert Kennett, practical watchmaker, had relocated his jewellery business, which had been established in 1880, from the adjoining building (181 High Street) to 183 High Street.

In 1892, 185 High Street had two occupants, Anthony Hurst, a knitting and machine worker, and John Rhodes, hatter. However, by 1900 only John Rhodes is listed as being in occupancy.

By 1912 the address of 185 High Street had been re-registered as 213 High Street and 183 High Street as 211 High Street. Robert Kennett continued to operate from 211 High Street and John Rhodes from 213 High Street.

Robert Kennett appears to have purchased both 211 High Street (183 High Street) and 213 High Street (185 High Street) prior to 1926. After he retired in 1922 the business was handled by his son, Ronald Kennett. Following Robert’s death in 1927, 211 High Street was transferred to Ronald.

213 High Street, occupied by J. Rhodes and Son, was transferred to Hugh Edwin Kennett, Eva Violet McKay, Daisy Mabel Wells and Lilian Annie Hampton. In 1941 the property was auctioned. At the time the property was leased to Harrods Limited, fashion tailors. 213 High Street remained a tailor’s store, with various owners, until 1984.

Ronald continued to run Kennett and Co. from 211 High Street and died in 1946, after which the property remained with Ronald’s wife, Lilian Nora Kennett while the business was managed by Len Robertson until 1953. At this point Anthony Kennett, Ronald’s son, managed the shop with his wife, Neroli. Kennett and Co. relocated their business to the adjoining building (209 High Street) possibly after purchasing the property in 1960. After the death of Lilian Nora in 1970 the property at 211 High Street was transferred to Anthony in 1971.

In July 1980, 211 High Street was transferred to David Matthew Holden Tipple, a firearms retailer. In 1982 it was transferred to Anthony Michael Rothschild. In 1984 it was transferred to John Bower Morton, Nicholas George Clark, and Catherine Alison Smith. By 1985 it was occupied by Vincent men's leisure wear and hairstyling. 

Meanwhile, by 1984, 213 High Street had become the Excelsior Bottle Store. By 1995 the property was also the office of the Canterbury Surf Life Saving Association.

In 1990, 211 High Street was transferred to Wei Yin-Chun and Sun Chih-Yu. In 1993 the hair saloon, Hair At Last operated out of the premises. In 1996 the business was Total Lookz Unisex Hair and Beauty Salon. By 2002, the property had become a women’s boutique clothing store, Tango, operated by Vicky Wynn-Williams who rented the premises from Terry Kearns.

By 2002, the entire ground floor of 213 High Street was High Street Café. 

The building was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes and was subsequently demolished in 2011.