Grosvenor Hotel

26 Cains Terrace And 8 Beswick Street, Timaru

  • Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sallie Meggitt. Date: 29/10/2017.
  • Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sallie Meggitt. Date: 29/10/2017.
  • Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: P Wilson.
  • Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru. Exterior view of the Hotel, Timaru, circa 1916. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Taken By: Frederick George Radcliffe.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2054 Date Entered 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 1-7 DP 7269 (CT CB598/24), Canterbury Land District, and the building known as the Grosvenor Hotel thereon.

City/District Council

Timaru District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lots 1-7 DP 7269 (CT CB598/24), Canterbury Land District


The Grosvenor Hotel, a substantial, mostly three-storeyed building on the corner of 26 Cains Terrace and Beswick Street in downtown Timaru, was constructed in 1915 as a replacement of an earlier hotel of the same name constructed in 1875-6. The hotel reflects the confidence and prosperity of Timaru in the early years of the twentieth century and has social, historical, aesthetic and architectural significance.

The first Grosvenor Hotel on the site was a two storeyed brick building established by John Meikle on land owned by John Crammond, and opened to the public in June 1876. Over the years it had been considerably enlarged and for a time was the largest hotel in Timaru, hosting numerous dignitaries and important gatherings. The hotel had not often changed hands – Meikle sold to the O’Meeghans who sold to John Patrick Murphy who bought the freehold. As a show of his enterprise and faith in Timaru, in 1915 Murphy demolished the old building arranged for the erection of a new and even larger modern hotel on the site. Designed by architect, James S Turnbull and built by the Shillito Brothers, the striped brick and stone pilasters and curved corner made the new building strikingly polychromatic.

Constructed of brick and stone with cement and plaster, the building has an extensive, largely rectangular, footprint and is mostly three storeys in height, with a cellar below. Its principal entrance is from Cains Terrace by a large centrally situated portico, above which on each of the upper floors is a balcony. The building has a 40 metre frontage to Beswick Street and almost the same to Cains Terrace. The deep balconies provide commanding views towards the ocean. The roof is clad in Marseille tiles. The windows are variously oriel, circular and square-headed with hood moulds. Other significant elements include curved corner treatment, cornice with dentils, pediments and parapets. At the south-west rear, the building is two-storeys and a stand-alone single storeyed rectangular building runs against the southern boundary of the land parcel.

Murphy advertised ‘The Grosvenor’ as ‘the South Island’s Leading Licensed Hotel, … a stately palace in brick and stone’. Murphy was bought out by a syndicate who leased the hotel to Mr F M Drewitt, but later it was managed for the owners by Mr C S (Tui) Elms. Mr E H Young bought the Grosvenor Hotel from the syndicate, and sold it in 1950 to Mr and Mrs McNeill. In 1973 the hotel underwent major internal alterations under the management of Dominion Breweries. Some time after 1983 the building began the first of its iterations of exterior paint colours, obscuring the original constructional polychromy of red brick and stone or cement. The current owners, Polladio Holdings Ltd, made further changes to the building in circa 2009, some of which included efforts to reverse some of the 1970s modifications to the fenestration.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

James T Turnbull

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Shillito Brothers

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1915 -

1973 -
Internal alterations

Exterior painting covers polychromatic brick

2009 -
Renovation and partial fenestration restoration

Completion Date

6th March 2018

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand