As the First Four ships sat at anchor in Lyttelton Harbour that warm December 1850, rural section 6 sat waiting for its owner to make it into something wonderful. Business partners Charles Weatherby and Henry Gordon had intended to be part of the first wave of settlers to Canterbury but their names were never on the passenger lists and nor did they didn’t step off those historic ships.
It turned out that Charles Weatherby died soon after making his purchase of 50 acres and no one is quite sure whether Henry Gordon just lost interest in the venture without Charles and forfeited his rights or the expiry date to claim the land order had passed on by. Whatever the reason, rural section 6 found itself back in the ownership of The Canterbury Association and was then purchased by the Association’s co-founder Edward Gibbon Wakefield.
The land remained untouched and was inherited by Edward Jerningham Wakefield at the death of his father in 1863 of Rheumatic Fever and Neuralgia. Young Edward took the 50 acres that sat on the corner of the West Belt (Bealey Ave) and Papanui Road and subdivided it for sale. The 10 acres that sat on the very corner was sold to Alfred Money. Already a colourful Canterbury character, Alfred added to his story by building the first Carlton Hotel. It’s rumoured that he got the name from the Carlton Club in London, owned by the Duke of Wellington.
With 7 acres left over, Alfred built stockyards and soon the hotel was very popular with visiting farmers. In fact, the stockyards took on a life of their own. Auctions and business deals began to take place and could easily be called the birthplace of what became the Addington Stockyards – which opened on Deans Ave in 1874.
The hotel witnessed one of the city’s first tram lines being constructed outside its doors, hosted grand celebrities such as writer Samuel Butler and influenced the naming of the Carlton Mill that operated just down the road on the nearby Avon River. This mill is remembered in the naming of Carlton Mill Road.
By 1902, the Carlton Hotel had become run-down and the Wards Brewery made Alfred an offer he couldn’t refuse. With the up-coming New Zealand International Exhibition taking place in Hagley Park, the Carlton Hotel was in a prime position to make a lot of money but an upgrade was needed. Alfred sold the old place to the Wards and it was demolished so the second Carlton Hotel could be built. Two million people made the trip to the exhibit in Hagley – not bad numbers when New Zealand’s population was only one million at the time.
In 1909, Alfred Money died on the pavement outside his beloved Carlton Hotel when he tripped and fell out of the tram he was travelling on. It was the end of an era.
Carlton Hotel went on to be historically listed for having New Zealand’s first beer on tap in 1940, the first beer garden in 1947, and the first drive-thru bottle shop in 1954. By 1990, the Carlton Hotel was 8x times larger than the establishment built in 1902.
Surviving the 4th September 2010 with just a few cracks, time was running out for the old hotel. The quake of the 22nd February 2011 sent the hotel façade crumbling onto Papanui Road. Unable to be repaired, the Carlton was demolished just 2 months later. It was a sad sight to see considering the history attached to it.
The term of Carlton Corner is safe and secure for the future with the new Carlton Hotel opening for business on Friday the 20th September 2013 – and a new era begins!
*all images of Carlton Hotel courtesy of http://www.stuff.co.nz*