White Hart Hotel

The first White Hart Hotel was built on Town Section 895 in 1852. It was followed by three other buildings, with the last built in 1909 and demolished in 1980.

High Street showing White Hart Hotel etc. Christchurch. N.Z.
High Street showing White Hart Hotel etc. Christchurch. N.Z.. Contributor (ctb): Isabel Clemens. No known copyright

Town Section 895, with frontage on High Street, was originally owned by Charles Day. In 1851 Michael Brannan Hart, a plumber by trade, opened, on the site, a hotel in a tent made from a foresail and a ridge pole with logs for the floor. He named the hotel after the White Hart Hotel in Bath. The tent hotel was soon replaced by a slab shanty. In 1854, Hart purchased TS 895 from Day. He initially envisioned an arcade following the right of way that ran through the section from High Street to Lichfield Street.

The first permanent White Hart Hotel was a two storey, wooden building with three dormers in the roof and an enclosed verandah. Advertised as the White Hart Inn, accommodation was available by July 1852. Sale yards were situated next to the hotel and a corn market was held under the verandah. The hotel became an arrival and departure point for the Cobb and Co. stage coach.

In June 1860, Charles Newton was granted the license to run the hotel. In July 1863, William Jones applied to run the hotel and after the license was granted, he was running the hotel by December. The first hotel building was replaced circa 1863 as an advertisement, dated to January 1864, states that Jones had made extensive alterations to the hotel.

The new hotel was a wooden building designed in the Classical style. A photograph dated to 1872 shows what may have been the original form of the building. Consisting of two storeys, the façade faced High Street with a string course separating the ground floor from the first floor. Part of the ground floor, to the right of the central door, appears to have accommodated a shop with a verandah. Above the central door, a door on the first floor opened onto a small balcony. Both this door and the first floor windows were covered with pediments. A parapet ran the length of the roof, in the centre of which was a life sized model of a deer.

In March 1871, Hart transferred the license to Joseph Oram Sheppard. 

The White Hart Hotel
The White Hart Hotel. Christchurch Star - no known copyright

In 1877, improvements were made to the hotel. The architect was Joseph Clarkson Maddison and the contractor was a Mr Rankin. The hotel was entered through the main door from High Street which led into a passage. The public bar and private bar were accessible from the passage (being on either side) and there was also access to a public wine and spirit shop. At the rear of the main entrance, another passage led to the private commercial room and dining room. The upper floor featured bedrooms, sitting rooms, and two bathrooms.

Hart died in 1878 and the ownership of the hotel appears to have been managed by the trustees of his estate while Sheppard continued to run it.

By February 1882, Sheppard had also obtained a lease of sections of land at the rear of the hotel for a term of 31 years. Maddison was hired once more to design extensions for the building and in that month he advertised for tenders. The contractor was a Mr. Gracie who completed the extensions by November 1882. A new wing, consisting of three floors, was added to the rear of the building. The ground floor of this extension contained a kitchen, storerooms, a room for a gas powered engine, a serving room, and sample rooms for jewellery. The upper floors contained six bedrooms. The dining room was also enlarged.

In August 1883, Joseph Oram Sheppard applied to transfer the license to Cecil Louisson. Louisson, with his brothers, Charles Louisson and Alfred Louisson, had earlier purchased the shares of the Crown Brewery Company. In September 1886, the license was transferred from Louisson to Thomas Quill. In September 1888, Quill transferred the license to Charles Oram.

By March 1889, Charles Oram was bankrupt and in May 1889, Edward Circuit Latter, on behalf of Oram, applied to transfer the license to Richard Norman Newby. In November 1890, Newby applied to transfer the license to John Gregory Harris. In July 1891, Newby applied to transfer the license to John Neill.

In 1902, the trustees of the Hart estate decided to replace the 1863 wooden building and its extensions with a modern building. Plans for the new building were drawn by S. and A. Luttrell. The construction was delayed until April 1904 when Luttrell advertised tenders for the building’s construction. In September 1904, tenders were advertised for the removal of the former White Hart buildings.

The contractor for the construction was James Greig. The plans, however, were not approved when construction started. This was due to concerns that a public bar was accessible by the right of way between High Street and Lichfield Street. Part of the new building accommodated the tea rooms of James Freeman. F.W. Tucker, jeweller, who also had leased a shop in the building, was operating by November 1905. The new White Hart hotel was open by April 1906.

On 6 February 1908, a fire, which started in the nearby Ashby, Bergh and Co. building destroyed the interior of the White Hart Hotel. All that was left was the façade on High Street. New plans were designed by Luttrell which retained the façade, although the pediments on the roof were removed.

In April 1908, Neill applied to transfer the license to William Henry Deal. A temporary bar was erected in the remains of the hotel, but after a gust of wind dislodged a beam, the temporary bar was closed. In December 1908, the license was transferred from Deal to Henry Zander.

The refurbished hotel was open and ready to receive guests by March 1909. In June 1909, Zander transferred the license to Arthur William Lane. In February 1913, Lane applied to transfer the license to Frank Moor Drewitt. In May 1917, Drewitt applied to transfer the license to Samuel Jennings Allen. Following the death of Samuel Jennings Allen, his wife Charles Harriett Thompson Allen, applied in July 1920 to have the license transferred to herself.

The White Hart Company Limited sold the hotel in February 1924 and it was purchased by R.D. Benjamin. The deer model on the parapet was taken down around this time. In May 1924, Morgan O’Brien applied for the license.

In January 1939, Morgan O’Brien applied to transfer the license to John Simpson. In March 1942, John Simpson transferred the hotel license to Edward Alfred Gillman. In 1944, Gillman transferred the license to Sydney Paden Bowell Overend.

In the mid-1960s a shopping arcade was built on the ground floor of the building.

In 1973, the Canterbury Savings Bank purchased the building. Demolition of the former White Hart Hotel started in January 1980 to make way for the construction of the new bank building.