The Bush Inn Tavern

The racket and stink of hundreds of livestock rambling down Yaldhurst Road would make those who lived close by stay inside!  Cattle, sheep, and even pigs headed down to the Addington Stockyards on Deans Ave like this for decades – causing such a trying time for residents that the Riccarton Road Board was formed mainly to try and shut the stockyards down or at least get them shifted.  The Board failed, the stockyards remained on site for well over 100 years, selling over 3,000,000 pigs, 4,000,000 cattle and 60,000,000 sheep.

But as the tired, dusty farmhands and foremen from the stations and runs of the Selwyn District drove their charges into Christchurch from the west, the complaints of the city residents were the furtherest thing from their minds.  As they edged their way down Yaldhurst Road, the first destination point of their journey was only a few km away…The Bush and W.C. Webb Inn!

William Coles Webb (preferred to be called W.C) was born in Berkshire, England in 1834.  By the age of 14, he was an accomplished rider and was taking part in horse races.  Upon meeting the wealthy Hon. Lancelot Walker, the pair organised the importation of some racing horses to Canterbury.  The year was 1862.  For the unfortunate creatures, the voyage took 6 months and they were luckily to have survived at all.  It was reported that W.C. was happy to have washed his hands of the whole adventure when all was done.

W.C.  appears in history again in 1865 when he purchased roughly 80 acres on Riccarton Road, building himself a hotel and stable – The Bush and W.C. Webb Inn.  Well known around Christchurch as a fine horse trainer, his stables becomes a popular place for the “who’s who” of the racing world.  The foot traffic of this side business caused the Bush Inn to grow and flourish.  Sited literally on the gateway to the Selwyn District, West Coast and a coach stop for Cobb & Co, all sorts of colourful characters would walk over the threshold of W.C. Webb’s establishment for a cold one.

The Bush Inn became the centre of many of Christchurch’s sporting events, either being the starting point or where the race would end.  From horses to bicycles, pigeon shooting to hunting parties, the Bush Inn catered to them all.

Walking distance from the Bush Inn stands a small two story brick building, adjacent to Waimari Road.  When this was first built, it was a blacksmiths and saddlery.  A bright spark who was witnessing the success of W.C.’s stables figured to make a buck or two of their own by providing a service that must have been lacking at the time.   Charmingly, like two old men and lifelong friends, these two buildings (the Bush Inn at least) remain on Riccarton Road, surviving the quakes and I hope they stay together that way for many more years to come.

W.C. sold the Bush Inn in 1905.  He simply moved across the road to settle and died there in 1920.  He is buried down the road at St Peter’s Anglican Church Cemetery at Church Corner, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch.

*photos taken by Annette Bulovic*

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