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Railway Hotel

Opened in 1864, the Railway Hotel was situated at the southern end of Manchester Street. It was replaced in 1925 by the New Railway Hotel.

In December 1863, John Macaulay O’Neill, a contractor for the Royal Mail, applied for a general license for a house on southern Manchester Street. However, the license was not granted after it was found that O’Neill had not supplied the correct number of householders who were residing within 200 yards of the house. O’Neill applied again and on 3 May 1864, the general license was granted. 

In October 1864, O’Neill advertised the sale of the Railway Hotel on an acre of freehold land at the corner of Manchester Street and South Town Belt. Along with the main building, the property contained stables, harness rooms, and a coach house. The hotel was advertised for lease in August 1865. 

On 7 May 1867, William Charles Morgan was granted a license for a house in Manchester Street. However, when he reapplied for the license in 1869, it was refused at a licensing meeting held on 4 May. On 20 December 1869, the license was transferred from Morgan to John Walter Garland. It was noted that the hotel was also known as Railway House. 

Intending to renovate the hotel, Garland submitted plans to the licensing court on 4 December 1876. The bench preferred that better plans be presented and adjourned the application of Garland to allow time for the submission of improved plans. When these were ready, they were presented on 19 December. The plans and tender for the building’s renovation were advertised in January 1877.

On 4 September 1877, Garland applied for a license, which was granted. Although the renovated hotel opened on 1 November 1877, the building was not entirely finished as carpenters were still working on it in May 1878. The business became known as Garland’s Railway Hotel.

At the chamfered south east corner of the building was the main entrance to the bar. There was also a private entrance to the bar from Manchester Street. Along with the bar, the ground floor also consisted of a tap parlour, a dining room, a commercial room, three private parlours, and a kitchen. A double staircase led to the first floor which consisted of two private parlours, twelve bedrooms, and two bathrooms.

On 1 June 1882, the license was transferred from Garland to Titus Ingham Aiken. Garland retained ownership of the property and by 1884 he had taken up the license of the Arowhenua Hotel in Temuka. By early 1884, Aiken was facing bankruptcy. On 1 May 1884, after learning that he had suffered a financial loss from a property, Garland shot his wife, Amy, while she slept in their bedroom at the Arowhenua Hotel before turning the gun on himself. 

On 4 June 1884, Titus Ingham Aiken, who was facing bankruptcy, applied to transfer the remainder of his license to Henry Garland, the brother of John Walter Garland. This was approved providing that repairs were made to the building. On 3 September 1884, the license was transferred back from Henry Garland to Titus Ingham Aiken, who had been cleared of his bankruptcy.

By November 1885, the license was held by David Mitchell. The license was transferred from Mitchell to Charles Goldstone on 2 June 1887. Goldstone died while residing at the hotel in December 1890. His wife, Florence, continued to manage to hotel.

In June 1891, George William Pearce (Pierce) was granted the license. On 4 April 1894, the hotel was damaged by a fire which possibly started in the skittle alley behind the building. In April, a contract was let by the trustees of John Walter Garland for the building’s restoration. Pearce left for England in July 1894, and by September, Charles Clark advertised the property for auction on behalf of the mortgagees.

The lease was taken up by Thomas Chapman in April 1895. The landlords, Ward and Co., however, did not allow him to renew his lease due to him being the subject of two police prosecutions. By October 1895, Chapman was bankrupt, and on 2 December 1895, the lease was transferred to George William Pearce. The license was transferred from Pearce to William Johnstone on 6 December 1899. On 6 March 1901, Johnstone transferred the license to Walter Joseph Rae. 

On 24 July 1906, Rae applied to transfer the license to Robert Davison Petrie. Petrie died on 7 March 1916. On 6 May 1916, Amy Isabel Petrie and John Campbell, the executors of Petrie’s estate, applied to transfer the license to Ernest Edward Major. 

On 11 October 1916, Ernest Edward Major applied to transfer the license to Robert John Ramsey. On 18 July 1917, Ramsey applied to transfer the license to William Elliot. During the proprietorship of Elliot, Robert Cree died after falling from a window on 13 December 1918. On 12 April 1920, Elliot applied to transfer the license to Walter Charles Petrie. In December 1921, the license was transferred from Walter Charles Petrie to Andrew Pringle.

Andrew ran the hotel with his wife, Ivy. On the morning of 6 May 1923, a fire, possibly caused by the fusing on an electric switch, damaged the building. One of the hotel’s residents, Finn Roy O’Donnell, died during the fire. 

In September 1923, tenders were offered by Luttrell Bros for the construction of a new hotel building. Completed by January 1925, it opened as the New Railway Hotel.