Holy Smoke Smokehouse

When driving down Ferry Road, heading east through what is regarded as Woolston Village, I always find myself seeking out a building that I simply know as “…the Catherine Street…” abode and the fact that embedded in its walls, is the road sign for Catherine Street makes it even more intriguing.

Now the home of Holy Smoke Smokehouse, it has survived the quakes well and when inside, the history seems to ooze from the very bricks. Great place!

Around the turn of the 20th century, a young married couple, James Alexander Cunningham and his wife Edith set up a kit-set pre-cut house and began a coal and firewood business. Their address was 650 Ferry Road with Catherine Street branching south down their property towards the Heathcote River.

The staff of Holy Smoke say that the building began as a coal shop so we are left to believe that James became a successful coal merchant who eventually upgraded to the current building we now know at 650 Ferry Road.

Catherine Street seems to have an interesting but hazy history of its own. Believed to have been named after Catherine Hawker, she was the first wife of Woolston baker, George Hawker. She died in 1869 and the term of Catherine Street appeared in the ‘Star’ newspaper in 1878.

The Hawker’s lived close to Charles Street which sits off Wilsons Road, opposite the AMI Stadium. This area was once known as ‘Ashbourne’ and three of the streets named in this family’s story no longer exist or have the same names – now forgotten Woolston, Robert and New Cambridge Streets. This generation of Hawker’s is buried in Woolston Cemetery, in both marked and unmarked graves.

In just a wee spin off and maybe totally unrelated, a Catherine Hawker was found drunk in Sydenham and was arrested on the 18th December 1899. She was fined 10 shillings and when she failed to pay, she was imprisoned for 2 days!

*photo taken by Annette Bulovic*

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