Queen's Ferry Hotel

12 Vulcan Lane, Auckland

  • Queen's Ferry Hotel.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 4/08/2009.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 4/08/2009.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 4/08/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 630 Date Entered 26th June 2009

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Allot 3 Sec 4 DP 2096 (CT NA1147/87), North Auckland Land District and the building known as Queen's Ferry Hotel thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Pt Allot 3 Sec 4 DP 2096 (CT NA1147/87), North Auckland Land District

Location description

North side of lower Vulcan Lane, Auckland.

Summaryopen/close

Dating from at least 1871 and possibly incorporating earlier remnants, the Queen's Ferry Hotel is a key component of an important group of historically significant commercial buildings in Vulcan Lane off Auckland's Queen Street. Brick premises on the property were initially erected for John Robertson in the late 1850s as a retail store and were converted into a hotel in 1865. Remaining in use as a bar, the Queen's Ferry is an early surviving example of a continuously licensed building in central Auckland.

Prior to the founding of colonial Auckland in 1840, the Queen Street gully was known as Horotiu and was subject to intermittent Maori occupation. In June 1842 sawyer John Robertson (1795?-1877), who had participated in the founding the colonial capital at Auckland in 1840, purchased a small site in Vulcan Lane - a narrow thoroughfare forming part of the town's early street system. The timber dwelling he constructed there is said to have incorporated a shop, which was destroyed by fire in 1858. A replacement brick store was erected in circa 1858-9, a couple of years after regulations had been introduced requiring the use of appropriate construction materials to prevent fire in Auckland's commercial centre. Two storeys high with a slate roof, the building may have had a basement.

In 1865, Robertson converted the building into a public house naming it the Queen's Ferry after his Scottish birthplace. The hotel was of 'row' rather than of 'corner' type, being conjoined in a continuous terrace by other buildings. Commonplace at the time, row hotels were less prominently located than pubs on corner sites and may have retained a more intimate 'public house' tradition for longer than their corner counterparts. The Queen's Ferry became a popular venue for the meetings of mining companies and other groups. It was the first licensed premises in Vulcan Lane, an area that was becoming increasingly associated with the wine and liquor industry and which gained further notoriety subsequently. In 1870 the Occidental Hotel opened nearby as a competing establishment. This was also converted from earlier retail premises.

Perhaps in response, a two storey brick rear extension was added to the Queen's Ferry in 1871. This was designed by architect Richard Keals and accommodated a commercial room on the ground floor, and bedrooms and sitting rooms upstairs. In 1882, five years after Robertson's death, the place was altered to meet the requirements of the Licensing Act 1881. The works designed by prominent Auckland architect Edward Bartley added a third storey to the front of the building and a new façade, giving the hotel a more impressive appearance in keeping with new public houses of the time. It is unclear how much of the circa 1858-9 fabric remained. In general, colonial construction more often involved modification than total demolition.

By the 1890s the Queen's Ferry was popular with licensed bookmakers who transacted business there. Following internal alterations in 1902, the hotel had eleven rooms including the bars, a sitting room and a dining room. It was leased by Campbell and Ehrenfried, the first of several liquor concerns to hold a business interest in the establishment over the following decades. For most of the twentieth century the hotel remained popular as a working class pub, with patrons including sailors, bookmakers, journalists and others. It was evidently a popular drinking place for literary people for some decades commencing in the 1930s, and was frequented at various times by notable New Zealand writers including James Baxter, Denis Glover, Frank Sargeson, Rex Fairburn and typographer Bob Lowry.

In 1958, a guest lounge and women's bathroom were created on the first floor reflecting an increased patronage by women. In the 1960s, a period when hotels faced increasingly stiff competition from chartered clubs and restaurants, the two ground floor bars were converted into a single, less intimate bar, and the first floor bar was enlarged to encompass the entire floor. In many other pubs, these changes had occurred some decades previously. Between 1977 and 2003, the building was purchased and sold by several property and investment companies with extensive renovations occurring in 1998. In 2000 the second floor was gutted by fire and repaired. The building remains in use as a bar (2009), maintaining a continuous function established in 1865.

The Queen's Ferry Hotel has aesthetic significance for its ornamental nineteenth-century façade and its contribution to an important heritage streetscape. It has architectural significance as a rare surviving example of a Victorian-era 'row' public house in central Auckland. The place is historically important for demonstrating the impact of liquor licensing requirements, including the 1881 Licensing Act after which a new ornate frontage and other alterations were made. It also has considerable value for reflecting the development of the retail and liquor trades from the early colonial period, possibly as early as the 1850s, and extending to the present day. It has high social significance as a place of social interaction over a period of 150 years initially as the site of a general store, and subsequently as a popular place of recreation and gathering. It has value as an early continuously licensed building in central Auckland, reflecting the social importance of alcohol and drinking during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including among journalists, literary figures such as Bob Lowry, James Baxter, Frank Sargeson and Rex Fairburn, and within working-class male culture.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The place is historically significant for its connections with Auckland's creation as a colonial city through its lengthy associations with John Robertson, a founding citizen. It has considerable value for reflecting the development of the retail and liquor trades in a major urban centre from the early colonial period, possibly as early as the 1850s, and extending to the present day. The place reflects the impact of liquor licensing requirements, including the 1881 Licensing Act after which a new ornate frontage and other alterations were made. It reflects the importance of small businesses such as hotels in the economic life of the nineteenth-century city and the existence of commonplace activities in its backstreets such as drinking and gambling. It is significant for its close links with Vulcan Lane's nineteenth- and early twentieth-century reputation as a place for consuming alcohol, having been the first hotel to open in the street and also in continuous use afterwards. Potentially incorporating brickwork dating to 1858-9, the place may demonstrate the introduction of building legislation in 1856 to combat destruction by fire.

Aesthetic Significance or Value:

The place has aesthetic significance as a visual component of an important group of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings on the north side of Vulcan Lane, a pedestrian precinct. The building has visual appeal for its modest scale reflecting the confined nature of the historic land parcel it occupies. The place also has aesthetic significance for its visually ornate Italianate façade which includes aedicule window openings, and other decorative detail including a dentilled cornice and a pedimented parapet incorporating open plasterwork.

Architectural Significance or Value:

The place has architectural significance as a rare surviving example of a Victorian-era 'row' public house in central Auckland. Once common, row hotels were less prominently located than pubs on corner sites and may have retained a more intimate 'public house' tradition for longer than their corner counterparts. The place has value for its links with two significant nineteenth-century architects, particularly Edward Bartley who designed its well-preserved façade.

Social Significance or Value:

The place has social significance as a place of social interaction over a period of 150 years initially as the site of a general store, and subsequently as a popular place of recreation and gathering. It has value as an early continuously licensed building in central Auckland, reflecting the social importance of alcohol and drinking during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including among journalists, literary figures such as Bob Lowry, James Baxter, Frank Sargeson and Rex Fairburn, and within working-class male culture.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

Occupied as a licensed premises for over 140 years, the place strongly demonstrates the importance of the liquor trade and drinking in nineteenth- and twentieth-century New Zealand. It also reflects changes in social interaction and values associated with liquor consumption since the mid to late nineteenth century. Frequented by varied groups of people, the place reflects other important aspects of recreation and relaxation in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century New Zealand, including betting and gambling. The place demonstrates the importance of small businesses in the commercial development and economic life of colonial Auckland, including its backstreets. It may also reflect early retail activity and the introduction of regulatory mechanisms governing building development in 1856 to prevent fire in a densely populated commercial centre.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

The place has significance for its association with notable patrons including typographer Bob Lowry and writers James Baxter, Frank Sargeson and A.R.D. Fairburn. It is also closely connected with founding citizen John Robertson, who owned and operated a hotel and retail premises on the site for more than 30 years, and who was responsible for adding the surviving rear extension in 1871. The establishment was later run by the colony's largest brewery Campbell and Ehrenfried as one of many such premises.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

Potentially retaining the remnants of a circa 1858-9 brick building that could represent parts of the earliest surviving purpose-built brick shop in New Zealand, the place may provide information about aspects of early colonial life such as the use and development of small nineteenth-century urban sites, early brick building materials and construction techniques, and colonial shops and shopping. More certainly incorporating later nineteenth-century fabric, it can provide information about brickmaking and construction techniques in the later colonial period. A documented well in the vicinity may allow the place to provide knowledge about water supply and well construction in early colonial Auckland.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

The place can be considered to have significance as one of only two known surviving Victorian-era 'row' hotels in central Auckland, a building type once common in Auckland's urban centre. Row pubs may reflect the retention of a more intimate 'public house' tradition during the later colonial period, in contrast to corner hotels that grew closer in appearance to retail shops. The place also has value for the appearance and ornamentation of its late-Victorian façade, which demonstrates the ongoing alteration of hotel premises to meet changing licensing requirements linked with the impacts of the temperance movement.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

The place is significant as an important part of a narrow inner city street of notable heritage character. Vulcan Lane contains several buildings of recognised historical and cultural value, including two printeries and two nineteenth-century public houses, including the Queen's Ferry Hotel. The place is one of a number of outstandingly significant nineteenth- and twentieth-century commercial and public buildings in the Queen Street Valley, which demonstrate Auckland's development as a colonial and later city. The place has special value for its contribution to the streetscape in Vulcan Lane and as an unusual remaining example of the intensive small-scale urban development that once characterised Auckland's colonial commercial heart.

Summary of Significance or Values:

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, c, g, k.

Conclusion:

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place for its contribution to the streetscape in Vulcan Lane and as an unusual remaining example of the intensive small-scale urban development that once characterised Auckland's colonial commercial heart.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Bartley, Edward

Edward Bartley was born in Jersey in 1839, and educated in the Channel Islands where he learned techniques of the building trade from his father, an architect and builder.

Bartley immigrated to New Zealand with his elder brother Robert, also an architect, while still in his teens. They eventually settled in Devonport, Auckland. Initially Edward was in the building trade but later he practised solely as an architect. He was at one time vice-president of the Auckland Institute of Architects and was also Diocesan Architect for the Church of England.

Amongst Bartley's most notable works were his ecclesiastical buildings including St John's Church, Ponsonby (1881), St David's Church, Symonds Street (1880), Holy Trinity Church, Devonport, and the Synagogue (1884). He was also responsible for the Opera House (1884) and Auckland Savings Bank, Queen Street (1884).

Keals, Richard

Richard Keals (1817?-1885) arrived in New Zealand in 1858 and initially worked on the Thames goldfields. One of Auckland's earliest trained architects, he is known to have been practising in the colonial township by 1863, having first operated as a builder. Keals had previously served as a clerk of works in England, carrying out his articles as an architect in London.

Keals designed a variety of building types in New Zealand, encompassing domestic, commercial and public structures. His early works in Auckland included the Waitemata and Thames Hotels in Queen Street, erected in 1866 and 1868 respectively. His New Zealand Insurance Company Building in Queen Street (1870) was one of the grandest commercial buildings in late-Victorian Auckland. Surviving buildings designed by Keals include Blackett's Buildings, previously known as the South British Insurance Building, erected in 1878-79 on the corner of Shortland and Queen Streets (Register no. 4483, Category 1 historic place). He was joined in practice by his two sons by 1885, the year of his death. In 1902, R. Keals and Sons claimed to be the oldest firm of architects in Auckland.

Source: Registration Report for Logan Park (Register No. 9643), May 2014

de Montalk, Robert

New Zealand-born Robert de Montalk was the son of E.P. de Montalk, a lecturer in modern languages and founder of the Alliance Française in Auckland. Practising in Auckland by the late 1890s, Robert de Montalk was the Honorary Architect for the Mining and Industrial Exhibition of 1898-99. In the same year he designed the Knox Presbyterian Church in Parnell, in the Gothic Revival style. He is also credited with being the architect for Riverina (1901) in Warkworth, an unusual residence built of rammed fired earth for Nathaniel Wilson, a pioneer in cement manufacture. De Montalk also designed the Quay Building (1906) in Quay Street, the Premier Building (1907) in Queen Street, and the Cargen Hotel (circa 1910) in Eden Crescent, all located in Auckland. By 1919, he had moved to Wellington, where he appears to have practised until circa 1938.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early history of the site:

Prior to European settlement in 1840 successive Maori groups are believed to have occupied Horotiu, an area on Auckland's present-day Symonds Street ridge and Queen Street gully. The site later occupied by the Queen's Ferry Hotel lies a short distance to the east of the Waihorotiu creek, which ran down the length of the gully into the Waitemata Harbour. Traditions mention a small settlement a short distance upstream, on or near the site of the current Auckland Town Hall. Archaeological material from this period has been recovered from several places nearby. Traditions also refer to a food gathering place and waka mooring site located near the mouth of the Waihorotiu. In 1837, Te Taou (a section of Ngati Whatua) planted crops in the area at a time when food was grown to supply the increasing number of Pakeha visiting the Waitemata Harbour. Ngati Whatua's offer to transfer a large area of land to the British Crown for the creation of a colonial capital at Auckland was formally agreed in September 1840.

Vulcan Lane was established in the first few years of Auckland's development, being part of the initial street system for the colonial city as proposed by the Surveyor-General Felton Matthew. Unlike the broad roads that served most of the settlement, it consisted of a narrow side alley linking the main commercial thoroughfare formed by Queen Street with a back lane, High Street, to the rear. Land adjoining the northern side of Vulcan Lane was initially granted by the Crown to William Mason, New Zealand's first Superintendent of Public Works. As early as 1841 Mason subdivided this to create smaller lots fronting the northern side of lower Vulcan Lane with a narrow alley along their rear boundaries.

John Robertson (1795?-1877) purchased the site of the Queen's Ferry Hotel from Mason in 1842. Robertson was originally from Queens Ferry, Scotland and initially emigrated to New South Wales. In March 1840, a month after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, he moved to New Zealand to work as a mechanic with Captain William Hobson (1783-1842), New Zealand's first colonial Governor. After six months in the Bay of Islands, Robertson relocated to Auckland where he was one of the earliest arrivals and participants in the founding of the new colonial capital.

A sawyer, Robertson is likely to have had a role in the construction of the early township. He is said to have distinguished himself for his bravery in helping to save the fledgling settlement from fire within days of the founding party's landing in 1840. He may have been based in Vulcan Lane from 1845 and was certainly resident there by February 1857, when he established his own sawpit on the foreshore in Fort Street. An initial timber building erected by Robertson on his property was in place by 1845 and was one of 50 or so premises destroyed by a fire in the area in July 1858. Although a contemporary newspaper account lists the building as a 'dwelling', an obituary published in 1877 states that Robertson conducted a store in the Vulcan Lane premises for many years prior to the fire.

Construction of Robertson's Store (circa 1858-9):

Robertson is reported to have constructed a two-storey brick building in circa 1858-9 as a replacement structure. As money from a fire relief fund was not paid out until December 1858, it is probable that construction either took place at the end of that year or in early 1859.

Under the City of Auckland Building Act 1856, timber buildings could no longer be erected within the commercial centre. Brick structures were comparatively unusual prior to passage of the Act. In 1849 there were just 21 brick residences noted in Auckland itself. Most of Auckland's early brick buildings were confined to the town's commercial centre, or took the form of building types such as hotels and industrial buildings where brick was seen as desirable for its fireproof qualities.

Robertson's store occupied the front (southern) half of the Vulcan Lane lot. Described in 1866 as a two-storey brick building with a slate roof, there is no record of the design or appearance of the premises when it was first erected. In accordance with common practice, the Robertsons lived above the shop. The range of goods sold in the store is unknown, but it included groceries such as cheese. Like other commercial premises erected immediately after the 1858 fire, the shop is likely to have been constructed in a simple Georgian style and may have had a basement cellar from the outset, particularly as Robertson sold perishable goods that would have benefitted from cool storage. Robertson also had his own water well, a feature that may have been established in the 1840s to serve the earlier timber building on the site.

During another general conflagration in 1863, an attempt was made to pull Robertson's building down as a fire break. Substantial damage was caused to the interior, and the roof was reported to have been almost entirely torn off and cut away. This suggests that, in spite of the damage caused, the building was too substantial to be knocked down. By mid 1864, the store was again in operation and incorporated an internal counter.

Conversion to the Queen's Ferry Hotel (1865):

In 1865 Robertson reopened the brick building as a hotel. It was the first such establishment to be created in Vulcan Lane, which was that time becoming increasingly closely connected with the liquor trade. Robertson named his hotel the Queen's Ferry, after his home town in Scotland. As a hotel, the building's external appearance and ground floor layout is likely to have been little different from its earlier incarnation as a general store.

Auckland's earliest hotels had a domestic visual appearance similar to early nineteenth-century pubs in Britain, reinforcing the view that they were literally 'public houses' whereby the owner of a house made some of his rooms available for drinking. By the 1860s, more specifically urban types of public houses had appeared in Auckland, characterised by a more commercial-style frontage with large plate glass windows, parapets and, subsequently, gas lighting on the façade. Such elements advertised the recreational activities carried out inside the building, as well as making such behaviour appear less secretive. Counters were introduced with such developments, as pubs became more like shops.

Occupying a central lot within a city block, Robertson's establishment was a hotel of 'row' type. Making up some 40 percent of the total number of hotels in central Auckland during the 1860s, row hotels were almost as common as hotels on corner sites. Evidence from elsewhere is said to indicate that while corner pubs increasingly looked like shops, pubs within street rows were more likely to retain aspects of a domestic appearance. Less prominently located than their corner counterparts, row hotels may also have preserved other aspects of a more intimate 'public house' tradition for longer. This was perhaps particularly true for establishments in urban backstreets, where there was less reliance on passing trade and hostelries of a greater domestic character persisted.

Rear extensions to the Queen's Ferry Hotel (1871):

In 1871, tenders were invited for additions to the Queen's Ferry Hotel. The work comprised a two-storey rear extension and was designed by Richard Keals (?-1885), one of Auckland's notable early architects. Having arrived in New Zealand in 1858, Keals established an architectural practice in the colonial capital in 1863, where his New Zealand Insurance Company Building (1870) was to become one of the grandest commercial buildings in late-Victorian Auckland.

The additions to the Queen's Ferry Hotel provided a commercial room with fireplace on the ground floor, and more bedrooms and sitting rooms upstairs. The work may partly have been a response to the establishment of the rival Occidental Hotel a few doors away in Vulcan Lane the year before.

Following the additions, the New Zealand Herald described the Queen's Ferry as providing 'first-class accommodation' for families and the commercial public. The paper was particularly impressed with a new commercial room, where business transactions could be undertaken conveniently. The Queen's Ferry became a popular meeting venue for businesses, including the gold-mining companies who were profiting from the gold rush at the time. It was also popular with patrons of Scottish descent, perhaps due to Mr Robertson's Scottish background. The hotel was the birthplace of the Scottish Volunteers of the Auckland Militia, at which one of the volunteers played a number of Scottish tunes on the bagpipes.

John Robertson died in 1877, aged 82 years. Mr Robertson's wife, May, managed the hotel until she died at her residence there in 1880.

Late nineteenth-century remodelling (1882-1899):

Charles Sutherland and his wife Elizabeth took over the management of the Queen's Ferry Hotel in 1880. His heavy involvement with the Masonic fraternity and the United Service Lodge meant that the hotel became popular with Masons and Lodge members. Sutherland died suddenly in 1881, aged 32, leaving Elizabeth to manage the hotel.

Alterations were made to the Queen's Ferry in 1882 in response to the requirements of the Licensing Act 1881. Enforced by the City East Licensing Committee, which was heavily influenced by the temperance movement, the regulations required that staircases in existing establishments be widened wherever possible. Emphasis was also laid on hotels being places of public refreshment, with food and lodging always being available.

At a cost of £980, several important alterations were undertaken at the Queen's Ferry, including at least the construction of a third storey on the hotel's front (south) section and the simultaneous remodelling of its main façade. It is unclear how much of the pre-existing 1860s structure was incorporated into the new works, although the rear 1871 section appears to have been retained. Side walls of the 1860s or earlier structure at ground and first floor level may have been kept. Earthworks were carried out, perhaps for construction of the front façade. In general, colonial buildings were more often modified than completely rebuilt.

Designed by prominent Auckland architect Edward Bartley (1839-1919), the modifications provided further bedroom and sitting accommodation, an improved entrance and staircase, and a modern bathroom. The new façade was created in an Italianate architectural style common for commercial buildings of the time. This gave the hotel an ornate appearance more in keeping with the decorative style of many new public houses designed in late-Victorian Auckland. Flanked by pilasters, its apertures were provided with different types of visual detailing, with a dentilled cornice on its upper storey supporting a decorative parapet with open plasterwork that incorporated the name of the establishment.

At a similar time to his work on the Queen's Ferry, Edward Bartley designed a number of notable new buildings including St John's Church, Ponsonby (1881), the Jewish Synagogue (1884), Opera House (1884) and Auckland Savings Bank (1884), all in Auckland. He was also responsible for erecting several new hotel buildings as well as modifying existing hotels as the latter were modernised in response to tougher licensing regulations. Examples included the Custom House Hotel in Fort Street (1878), the Flagstaff Hotel in Devonport (1879), the Swan Hotel in Mechanics Bay (1880) and the Masonic Hotel in Devonport (1883). Like the Queen's Ferry, his work on the Waverly Hotel in Queen Street in 1879 involved designing a new frontage.

A tender for construction of the additions was won by Alex Maguire, who began work on the site in September 1882. During excavations several ti-tree house blocks, thought to have been from the original wooden structure built in the 1840s, were uncovered. The alterations were completed by December 1882.

Elizabeth Sutherland married Walter Stimpson in 1883, and the two held the licence for the hotel until 1902. During this period the Queen's Ferry was popular with licensed bookmakers who used it and the nearby Occidental Hotel as a base for doing business. The Queen's Ferry had a reputation for after-hours drinking, with Walter Stimpson being charged but not convicted with serving alcohol after-hours in 1889.

Walter and Elizabeth Stimpson and their two small children lived on the second floor of the hotel, which comprised four rooms, including Mrs Stimpson's bedroom, her dressing room, the children's bedroom and one other room. In 1893, a large fire damaged the upper storeys of the hotel. The blaze began in the bedroom of one of the barmaids, one of several employees living in the hotel.

Twentieth-century alterations and use (1900 onwards):

In 1902, the rateable value of the hotel increased from £250 to £370, probably due to internal improvements designed by Robert de Montalk. Less prominent than Keals or Bartley, de Montalk nevertheless went on to design the Premier Building in Durham Street East (1907) and the Cargen Hotel (circa 1910) in Eden Crescent. Following this work the hotel comprised eleven rooms, including the bars and a sitting room and dining room.

In February 1902, Campbell and Ehrenfried took over the Queen's Ferry lease for a period of 12 years. Campbell and Ehrenfried was the colony's largest brewery and had strong associations with notable Aucklanders Sir John Logan Campbell and Sir Arthur Myers. The firm's involvement reflected a growing trend of large brewery companies taking over individual hotels, partly in response to the increasing pressures of the temperance movement and a decreasing number of liquor licences.

For most of the twentieth century, the hotel remained popular as a working-class pub, with patrons including sailors, bookmakers, journalists and others. Under the management of Thomas Markwick (1907-1912), the hotel was also known as the 'Hole in the Wall', evidently due to its tendency to allow late-entry drinking.

In 1915, the year after the lease had been transferred to a consortium of Wellington-based wine and spirits merchants and Dunedin-based brewer James Speight Limited, the rateable value of the hotel increased from £460 to £580, suggesting further alterations. The internal layout now comprised front and back bars on the ground floor; a bedroom, living room, office, kitchen, parlour, dining room and bathroom on the first floor; and four bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. From 1919 until the early 1940s, a number of different hoteliers held the lease. After the First World War (1914-1918) the Queen's Ferry and Occidental Hotels became popular with Auckland journalists.

Long before 1919, however, congestion, rowdiness and obstruction in Vulcan Lane had become a problem, particularly on race days. The lane is said to have been known as 'Vulture's Lane' as early as 1898 due to the number of bookmakers, prostitutes, juvenile delinquents, cock-fighters and pedlars that frequented it. In the 1920s, all the buildings on the opposite (south) side of Vulcan Lane were demolished when the lane was widened from about 5 metres to 9.75 metres (16 feet to 32 feet) in 1928, to provide access for motor vehicles.

The hotel is said to have been a popular drinking place for literary people for some decades from the 1930s and was visited by notable New Zealand writers including James Baxter, Denis Glover, Frank Sargeson and Rex Fairburn. In 1951 minor work was carried out to meet fire regulations. In 1958, commencing a period when hotels faced competition from the growing number of chartered clubs and restaurants, a renovation designed by Sargent and Smith and Associates saw the demolition of a brick wall that separated the front and back bars. Both bars on the ground floor were renovated. A 'guest lounge' and separate women's bathroom were created on the first floor, reflecting an increased patronage by women. This occurred as Vulcan Lane became increasingly occupied by fashion-conscious businesses as Auckland's new 'street of distinction'.

Errol and Pauline Boyd held the lease at the Queen's Ferry Hotel from 1961 to 1970 and lived in the top storey, which had three bedrooms. The front of the first floor had been converted into a 'house bar', and continued to attract people of national literary importance such as typographer Bob Lowry. The premises underwent extensive renovations in 1968, converting the two ground floor bars into one large, less intimate bar. A bottle store and office were installed at the front of the building and new toilets at the rear. On the first floor the 'house' bar was similarly enlarged to encompass the entire floor. The bars of most other public houses in Auckland had been opened out or enlarged several decades earlier.

At the same time (1968) Vulcan Lane was converted back into a pedestrian thoroughfare, reinforcing its distinctive nature. In 1994, the lane's heritage qualities were recognised through its registration as a historic area by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. The Queen's Ferry Hotel was successively purchased and sold by several property and investment companies between 1977 and 2003. Extensive renovations carried out in 1998 and 2000, included repairs after the interior was damaged following a fire on the second storey.

The hotel was purchased by London Property Investments Limited in 2003 and remains in use as a bar, maintaining a continuous function on the site since 1865. The Queen's Ferry Hotel is an early surviving example of a continuously licensed building in central Auckland.

Physical Description

Construction Professionals:

Architect:

Unknown (circa 1858-9)

Richard Keals (1871)

Edward Bartley (1882)

Robert de Montalk (1902)

Daniel Patterson (1951)

Sargent and Smith and Associates (1958)

Sargent and Smith and Associates (1968)

Builder:

Alexander Maguire (1882)

Context:

The Queen's Ferry Hotel is located in the northeastern section of the Queen Street gully, in the heart of Auckland's Central Business District (CBD). Queen Street is Auckland's main commercial thoroughfare, from which several small lanes of colonial origin extend.

The Queen's Ferry Hotel is located on the northern side of Vulcan Lane, a narrow street of notable heritage character. The lane extends for two small city blocks and is divided into two sections (upper and lower Vulcan Lane) by the narrow thoroughfare High Street. Running eastwards from Queen Street, the pedestrian lane contains numerous buildings of recognised historical and cultural value, including the Occidental Hotel (Record no. 624, Category I historic place) and the Vulcan Buildings (Record no. 668, Category I historic place). Buildings on either side of the thoroughfare, including the Queen's Ferry Hotel, lie within the Vulcan Lane historic area (Record no. 7011).

The Queen's Ferry Hotel is a significant visual component of a coherent group of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century brick buildings of modest scale and generally similar design. The group occupies the central portion of the older, northern side of lower Vulcan Lane. The Queen's Ferry Hotel is conjoined with the four-storey former Cleave's Building immediately to the west, and the six-storey, circa 1920s Greer's Building to the east.

Exterior:

The Queen's Ferry Hotel occupies a rectangular lot of 118 square metres. The site is entirely covered by the current brick building which fronts on to Vulcan Lane. A narrow, privately-owned access lot dating from 1841-2 runs along the rear (north) boundary. The structure consists of a three-storey element with basement on the southern (front) part of the site; and a two-storey element with basement to the north (rear).

The rendered brick façade of the Queen's Ferry Hotel is decorated in a late-Victorian Italianate style. It is divided into three bays. Door and window openings have a keystone motif. Windows are of double-hung sash type.

On the ground floor, each of the two outer arches frames a doorway. The central bay contains an arched window. Above rusticated plasterwork over the upper openings is a pronounced string course supported by a pair of modillions. On the second storey, window openings take the form of aedicules. The central opening has a curved pediment and the two flanking ones have triangular pediments. A double-height pilaster on either side of the building frames the second and third storeys. Window heads on the third storey have rounded corners and a keystone. Above a dentilled cornice, the structure has an ornate parapet incorporating pedestals, open decorative plasterwork and an open-bed elliptical pediment which bears the name 'Queen's Ferry Hotel' in plaster lettering. It is unclear from the current appearance of the front façade whether any 1860s or earlier brickwork might survive in its fabric or in that of conjoining walls.

Existing plans indicate that the two-storeyed rear wall of the building has a door and a window opening at ground floor level, and two windows on the second floor. The lower height of this section indicates that it represents the remnants of an 1871 extension. The rear wall of the upper storey of the southern (front) section has two double-hung sash windows. Each of the building's two sections has a hipped roof clad with corrugated iron.

Interior:

Plans indicate that the building contains a basement, ground floor, first floor and smaller second floor. The ground floor comprises the 'lounge bar'. The bar facility is situated on the west wall. A staircase to the upper floors runs up the east wall. Lavatories are located at the rear (north) of the building. The first floor comprises an additional 'lounge bar', with lavatories. The second floor consists of one room which occupies approximately the southern two thirds of the building footprint. The roof of this section contains a skylight. It is unclear how much of the building's early internal features or layout survives, although several partitions have been removed at ground floor and other levels. No access has been obtained to determine if 1860s or earlier brickwork survives in the front part of the building interior.

Comparisons:

The building is a relatively unusual remnant of the intensive small-scale urban development that once characterised the heart of Auckland's colonial commercial centre. Examples of surviving small buildings incorporating Italianate design seem to be particularly uncommon, although they include the adjacent Occidental and the former Cleave's Building. Other existing small-scale brick buildings in Auckland's Central Business District (CBD) include a two storey building with attic at 25-27 High Street (Record no. 560, Category II historic place), believed to date from the 1890s to 1900; a two storey structure at 319 Queen Street that appears to be of circa 1910 date; a larger three-storey building at 39 Elliott Street; and the former Worrall's Building constructed at 10 Britomart Place, constructed in 1910.

If elements remain of a circa 1858-9 brick building, the Queen's Ferry Hotel would be one of a relatively small number of surviving brick structures erected in New Zealand within the first two decades of British colonisation. No known surviving shop or store constructed of brick has been identified that predates Robertson's store and there are comparatively few known purpose-built retail store premises dating from before 1860 in New Zealand. If remains do survive, however, current evidence suggests that the remnants are unlikely to be as intact as a number of other identified places of similar type and age.

Early brick buildings:

There are relatively few known early surviving brick structures erected in New Zealand within the first two decades of establishment of the colony in 1840. Those that remain include a number built as residences, some hotels, parts of industrial ruins and a premises constructed as a combined school and place of worship.

The earliest surviving brick structure appears to be a small brick porch erected in 1844 as part of Bishop's School, Nelson (Record no. 1546, Category II historic place) and incorporated into a new school (1881). Mansion House, Kawau Island (Record no. 8, Category I historic place) evidently incorporates part of a circa 1846-8 two-storey brick residence, while the Pumphouse Ruins dating from 1853-4 (Record no. 9, Category I historic place) include a 21-metre tall brick-topped chimney. Part of a former house at 5 Alten Road, Auckland (Record no. 7398, Category II historic place) was built in 1849-50. Other brick dwellings dating from the 1850s are Franklynne (Record no. 685, Category II historic place) constructed at Mangere East in 1853; and Linwood House (Record no. 3119, Category II historic place) Christchurch, constructed in 1857.

Three brick hotels constructed in wider Auckland during the first half of the 1850s survive. These are the circa 1850 Windsor Castle Hotel, Parnell, (Record no. 7460, Category I historic place) which was substantially remodelled in the 1880s; the circa 1852 brick portion of the former Royal Oak Hotel, Onehunga (not registered) and the 1854-5 Fitzroy Hotel (Former) (Record no. 7582, Category I historic place) in the central city.

The brick Wesleyan Chapel (Former) (Record no. 7752, Category I historic place) at 8A Pitt Street in the Auckland CBD dates from 1859-60.

All of these structures preserve a large quantity of their original fabric, a situation that on current evidence is unlikely to apply to the possible remains of an early brick building at the Queen's Ferry Hotel.

Purpose-built stores or shops:

Early purpose-built store premises known to have survived, including those constructed of materials other than brick, are comparatively few. New Zealand's oldest surviving store is Kerikeri's Stone Store (Record no. 5, Category I historic place) which was constructed in 1832-6 by the Church Missionary Society as a storage depot. Brancepeth Station Store (Record no. 201, Category I historic place), Wainuioru is a single-room timber structure dating from 1856 which stocked day-to-day supplies sold to station staff at cost. Ninnis' store constructed in stone in the mid 1850s (not registered) survives in Onehunga. The former Te Aute Store, State Highway 2, Opapa in timber may have been built as early as 1858.

All of these structures again preserve a large quantity of their original fabric, a situation that on current evidence is unlikely to apply to the possible remains of an early brick building at the Queen's Ferry Hotel.

Structures comprising a shop and dwelling include an 1850s timber and corrugated iron building at 20 Norwich Quay, Lyttelton (not registered), and timber premises dating from 1855 at 29 Bridge Street in Nelson (Record no. 5118, Category I historic place). A two-storey timber premises said to have been constructed in Wellington's Willis Street (Record no.7200, Category II historic place) circa 1859 appears to have been a painter's and decorator's shop/business from circa 1860 although this may not have been the building's first retail use. No purpose-built brick stores pre-dating the premises at the Queen's Ferry Hotel site have so far been identified. Cleave's Building at 10 Vulcan Lane, Auckland may contain remnants of a brick shop constructed at a similar date, as early as circa 1858-9.

Hotels:

A number of early hotels survive in the broader Auckland area, forming an important remaining group. They include the suburban Windsor Castle Hotel, Parnell and the formerly rural Royal Oak Hotel, Royal Oak, noted above. Within the urban nucleus forming the colonial capital of New Zealand, they also encompass the former Fitzroy Hotel (Former), the Swan Hotel (Record no.7586, Category II historic place) and possibly parts of De Brett's Hotel in High Street, which may incorporate brick remnants of the 1859 Commercial Hotel (Record no. 7264, Category II historic place). All of these examples are located on corner sites.

Only two nineteenth-century pubs of row location are currently known to survive within Auckland's urban core. These are the Queen's Ferry Hotel, and the Prince of Wales Hotel in Hobson Street. Row pubs were formerly comparatively common in urban Auckland and may be linked with the retention of a more intimate 'public house' tradition for longer than their corner pub counterparts. The Queen's Ferry Hotel is the only nineteenth-century 'row' pub in the commercial centre of Auckland, and possibly wider afield, that still operates as a bar or public house.

Construction Dates

Demolished - Fire
1858 -
Timber building (destroyed by fire, 1858)

Original Construction
1858 - 1859
Two-storey brick building, probably with cellar

Addition
1871 -
Two-storey addition to rear (north side) of building

Modification
1882 -
Third storey added, other alterations including construction of new façade including entrance and staircase

Modification
1893 -
Repair of building after fire

Modification
1902 -
Probably internal alterations

Modification
1915 -
Probably internal alterations

Modification
1951 -
New external ladders and balconies

Modification
1958 -
Internal alterations to ground and first floors

Modification
1968 -
Internal alterations to ground, first and second floors

Modification
1998 -
Internal alterations to ground and first floors

Modification
2000 -
Fire in top storey, repair work to all floors, roof replaced

Construction Details

Brick, with corrugated metal roof

Completion Date

26th March 2009

Report Written By

M. Jones, L. Mackintosh, J. McKenzie

Information Sources

McLauchlan, 1994

Gordon McLauchlan, The Story of Beer: Beer and Brewing - A New Zealand History, Auckland, 1994

Bartley, 2006

M W Bartley, Colonial Architect, The Career of Edward Bartley 1839-1919, Wellington, 2006

Butler, 1993

Michael Butler, A History of the Queen's Ferry Hotel and Its' Publicans, [Auckland], 1993

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region Office.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.