It was publican James McKendry’s quirky side business that made him so likeable. You could expect, alongside your beer, additional items that were for sale with the following question of something like “Is there anything you wanted me to look at, for a trade maybe?”. He soon earned the name of Trader McKendry, a term that outlived him by decades!
The business that became Trader McKendry’s began as a simple house on the north east corner of Cashel and Manchester Streets. First owner, Thomas Cook, appears in Christchurch’s first liquor license records in 1858. It is believed he had been in the boarding house business years before that. He turned what was a simple home into the Warwick Arms Hotel. A dark cloud always hung over the place and no one quite knew for sure, what when on behind the scenes, in spite of Thomas promoting his establishment as a fine family hotel.
A court appearance in 1859 didn’t help the Warwick Arms’ reputation when gambling was witnessed on site. Roger Deacon, an employee of the Cashel Street Brewery, was on his way home from work in the early hours of an April morning when a light from the hotel took his attention. Thinking it was a rather odd, he took it upon himself to peek in the window. There he saw 4 men playing cards with money piled up in the middle. This was against the law concerning a boarding house and the police were called. The game was still in play when the police showed up at the door. Thomas was fined £10 and received a slap on the wrist.
I can’t let this court case fly on by without highlighting quickly the men who sat in judgment over Thomas Cook. Not only were they the who’s who of early Christchurch but their influence is very much still a part of our city today. Sitting on the bench were the following:
- William Guise Brittan. A ‘Sir George Seymour’ settler who took charge of the land office upon his arrival. Owned land at Halswell, Papanui (He also donated wood from Papanui Bush for the building of the first St Paul’s Anglican Church on Papanui Road) and is also remembered by the naming of the William Guise Brittan memorial garden situated at the south eastern corner of Fitzgerald Ave and Avonside Drive. Just a property over from this garden, his quake-damaged house of ‘Englefield’ faces demolition as it is now in the red zone. He is the great-great-grandfather of Christchurch born war hero Captain Charles Hazlitt Upham.
- Dr. Joseph Brittan. William Guise Brittan’s brother who lived next door to him on Avonside Drive – who named his estate ‘Linwood’ (now the suburb). His daughter Mary married our fourth Superintendent – William Rolleston.
- John Bealey. The brother of Canterbury’s third Superintendent Samuel Bealey. Now remembered the naming of Bealey Ave and Bealey River – just to name a couple of places. Both brothers were wealthy landowners, which included owning the 45,000 acre ‘Haldon’ farm in Hororata – now remembered in the naming of Haldon and Bealey Roads in the area today.
- Thomas Cass. An early Canterbury Association surveyor who was later became a Canterbury Provincial Chief Surveyor. Was boss of Arthur Dudley Dobson when Arthur discovered the best route through the Southern Alps to the gold fields of the West Coast, now named Arthur’s Pass. Remembered today in the naming of Cass Street, Cass Bay and Cass Peak.
- Sir John Hall. John was a great land owner; his estate ‘The Terrace’ in Hororata still remains in his family today. He was the first Chairman of the Christchurch City Council, Mayor of Christchurch and was 12th Premier of New Zealand. Quake damaged St John Anglican Church in Hororata was his gift to the town in the loving memory of his beloved wife, Rose.
Now, back to the Warwick Arms Hotel – ex-farmer James Ferguson Douglas was the next owner and the place ran his funds dry. As the hotel changed hands over the years, misfortune called the place home when two fires almost destroyed the place.
It was the 1920’s when James McKendry took over and made it a real family affair. By all reports, along with his buy, sell and exchange side business, the hotel was a popular part of Christchurch city life. When he died in 1940, his wife Emma leased the business for the following 14 years. In 1956, Emma’s son-in-law, Fred Mercer took over, restoring the old place back to its heyday.
It was in 1972, under the new ownership of K. Luhrs, that the term ‘McKendry’s Hotel’ came into use. The name did disappear in 1978 but its history was not to be ignored. When the pub was renamed to the ‘Cantabrians Hotel’, the public bar inside was known as the Trader McKendry’s Bar and was decorated in colonial style. In 1995, the whole business became Traders McKendry’s or simply known as ‘Traders’, the name carrying through until it became ‘Shooters’ nightclub. Although completely repairable after the quakes, ‘Shooters’ has since been demolished due to the city’s rebuild plans.