William Francis Warner (1836 – 1896)

Growing up with older siblings, it was common place for my sister to get all dolled up and head out to meet with friends at Warners, the pub and hotel in Cathedral Square. Old Warners didn’t fight well against the earthquakes and is now an empty lot. The old historic icon in Cathedral Square is gone for good.

William Francis Warner arrived in Lyttelton as second mate aboard the ‘Rhea Sylvia’. He quickly became chums with Julius van Haast (the founder of the Canterbury Museum) and joined him on many adventures. The two nearly lost their lives a few times and on one occasion, they only had flour and Weka to eat.

Tiring of his wanderings, William became a hotel-keeper at the Golden Age Hotel in Cathedral Square. When owner John Coker moved on, William took over and renamed the place “Warners”.

The most devastating thing to happen to William was the loss of his first wife Amelia Hill after 20 years of marriage. The top piece of his grave is her memorial block. He did remarry in 1891 to Annie Little.

One afternoon in 1896, William accompained some young friends to New Brighton to go sailing. The boat ended up capsizing. The man who had survived the journey to New Zealand as crew aboard a ship, and crossed some of the biggest rivers in the south island, drowned in the waters of New Brighton.

William is buried at St Peter’s Anglican Church Cemetery in Upper Riccarton, Christchurch.

*Photo taken by Annette Bulovic*

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