Historical Significance or Value
The building has historical significance as the only remaining part of the original Vulcan Hotel, a pivotal establishment in the nineteenth century gold mining town of St Bathans. It represents the recreational and transport needs associated with a nineteenth century hotel, when such establishments provided stabling for horses as well as accommodation for travellers. The building represents the hey day of St Bathans when it was a bustling gold mining community, and serves as a reminder of the times when it was a township at the centre of much commerce and activity requiring extra facilities for both visitors and horses. It has historical significance as an integral part of the historic fabric of St Bathans, one of the early buildings in the township that also represents the original Vulcan Hotel with which it was associated.
The Vulcan Hotel Billiard Rooms and Stable building has architectural value. The building's design represents the kind of structures and facilities associated with the hotel industry in the nineteenth century. It is significant as the remaining part of the original Vulcan Hotel establishment. It is representative of the typical St Bathans and Central Otago vernacular architectural style of the nineteenth century.
The Billiards Room and Stable building has technological significance as an example of mud brick construction. Mud brick was a common building technology in areas of Central Otago where timber was scare. Relatively few mud brick buildings have survived as the brick collapses if the structure does not stay weather-tight.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The billiards room and stables reflects important aspects of New Zealand's history, associated with gold mining in Central Otago and the development of towns in the region. The building once formed an important part of the infrastructure of St Bathans, where hotels were not only recreational and drinking establishments but were also necessary for accommodation and hospitality. St Bathans once had about thirteen hotels with their associated facilities. In 2006 only one remains, along with these billiards room and stables from a different establishment. The building is important for its representation of this aspect of the town's history.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:
The St Bathan's community consider the heritage of their town vitally important and value all the town's historic buildings, including the Billiards Room and Stables. The wider community also holds all the historic buildings of the town in esteem, and includes such groups as the St Bathans Heritage and Environment Preservation Trust which was recently formed in order to speak on such issues and advocate for the protection of the town's built heritage. In addition St Bathans is a popular heritage tourism destination.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:
The Billiards Room and Stables form an integral part of the historical and cultural complex of St Bathans and the wider Central Otago landscape. Situated on the town's main street, it forms an essential component of the historic streetscape, which includes other significant examples of mud brick construction, the Vulcan Hotel (formerly the Ballarat Hotel) and the St Bathans Public Hall.
The history of gold mining in Central Otago began with Gabriel Read's discovery of gold in Gabriel's Gully, near present-day Lawrence, in 1861.
The following year Hartley and Reilly spent the winter prospecting in the now-flooded Clutha Gorge between present day Clyde and Cromwell, finding enough gold in the area to travel back to Dunedin and lodge 87 pounds with the Gold Receiver. Gold was soon discovered in other parts of the region, and in 1863, at St Bathans, leading to the birth of the town. First known as Dunstan Creek, the name was changed to St Bathans in 1866, after St Bathans in the islands of Iona in Scotland, famous from the time of early Christians. At the height of the rush, the population in the area numbered around 2,000, with thirteen hotels catering to local demands during the 1860s. The town had two banks, a police station, courthouse, jail, hospital and many businesses. A Tyree photo dated circa 1864 shows St Bathans' main street with timber, stone and corrugated iron buildings opening directly onto the footpath.
Hotels and the services they provided were essential to the nineteenth century traveller, particularly in isolated areas of New Zealand. With the gold rushes of the 1860s hotels and accommodation houses were among the first services established. Hotels typically offered a range of services including accommodation, meals, stabling and a coach stop point. The buildings associated with hotels therefore included stables, fenced areas for stock and the like. Few hotels left in Otago illustrate these services, with many, like the Royal Hotel in Naseby losing its stables through demolition. Stanley's Hotel Complex with its stables, cart shed, pig sty, stone walling and billiard rooms provide an outstanding record of a nineteenth century gold mining town hotel, in a hotel that has been in operation for over 120 years.
Title to the land on which the Billiards Room and Stables is located was granted to Samuel Spence Hanger in September 1874. On the same date Hanger was also granted title to the site of the Vulcan Hotel, located on the opposite side of St Bathans' main street. The Billiards Room and Stable was part of the Vulcan Hotel establishment. The first Vulcan Hotel was constructed of corrugated iron, but it was destroyed by fire. Samuel Hanger, who was also a blacksmith, only spent a few years as publican of the Vulcan and proprietor of the Billiards Room. He died in December 1879, aged 49, leaving his widow Mary to take over the business. Mary Hanger ran the business for about eleven years, the ownership passing to William and John Thurlow in 1888.
It appears that the Stables were developed to the rear of the billiards room in 1899, during the time the Thurlows owned the Hotel, as in this year the opening of the stables in association with the hotel was advertised. After this period a number of owners of the business followed. A fire in about 1931 finally destroyed the Vulcan Hotel, and the license was transferred to the nearby Ballarat Hotel, which was renamed the Vulcan Hotel.
In the 1930s mining declined. By 1934 the Kildare Lead mine was abandoned as the local council was concerned that the further excavations would endanger St Bathans' main street and buildings, located less than 100 metres away. The huge hole (known as the Glory Hole) created where Kildare Hill once stood eventually flooded, forming the Blue Lake, now a notable feature of St Bathans gold mining heritage. Mining operations ceased after the 1930s and as the population dwindled buildings were either demolished or moved elsewhere. Only the Vulcan Hotel (previously the Ballarat Hotel), along with the original Vulcan Hotel's Billiards Room and Stables remained.
Little is known about the history of the Billiard Rooms and Stable between the 1940s and the 1970s, although they were used as an accommodation annex for the Vulcan Hotel.
Part of the east wall of the building was rebuilt in the 1970s after it had collapsed. The building was converted for use as accommodation after 1972.
In 1974 the Billiards Room and Stables were purchased for use as a holiday home. The building was converted for that purpose. In 1982 the titles of the Vulcan Hotel site and the billiards room and stables were separated.
The former Billiards Room and Stables, standing along with other buildings such as the gold office and the post office, form an important component of the remnant of the historic town. They stand out as one of the impressive original structures, with its mud brick construction and dormer with loading doors in the roof. It is also a significant building as the remaining structure of the original Vulcan Hotel, one of the important buildings in the early town. In 2006 it continues to be used as a holiday home.
The building which houses the Vulcan Hotel's former Billiard Rooms and Stables is located on Loop Road in the small Central Otago settlement of St Bathans. The town has its roots in the gold rush period of Otago's past, with the Billiard Rooms and Stables dating from St Bathan's heyday in the 1870s. The now tiny settlement, with about a dozen permanent residents, is noted for its historic values, in particular its historic buildings and setting amongst the relic landscape of the gold mining period. Loop Road is the historic centre of the town, and is notable for its small scale historic buildings.
The former Billiard Rooms and Stables are located in a single building (Billiard Room above with an entrance at street level, stables in the basement below, on the sloping site), near the former site of what was then known as the Vulcan Hotel (destroyed by fire in 1931), on the west side of Loop Road.
The billiards room and stables is a rectangular plan building constructed of mud brick, with a corrugated iron roof. The roof has a dormer with a cathead and loading door from the loft. The building is constructed over two levels, each with two storeys. The street entrance opens directly into the former billiards room, the larger of the two rooms on street level. The second door from the street opens onto a smaller room now used as a gallery. At the rear of these two rooms steps lead down to the former stables, located on the lowest level of the building. One of the stables has been converted for use as a bathroom, and still has its feed box in situ, now containing a laundry tub. The gallery area continues into the stable that lies at the rear. Stairs at the rear of the former billiards room also lead up to the third level located above the stables, consisting of three rooms used as bedrooms. A door opens to the exterior from this level. Stairs from the sleeping area lead again up to the loft, located in the roof of the building with the dormer and door opening from there.
Conversion of building for use as a home; reconstruction of the partially collapsed east wall.
room constructed as part of the Vulcan Hotel establishment.
Vulcan Hotel destroyed by fire.
Mud brick, iron, timber.
22nd June 2007
Report Written By
Janet. C. Cowan, Down the Years in the Maniototo: A Survey of the Early History of Maniototo County and Naseby Borough, Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Whitcombe and Tombs, Dunedin, 1948
R. Gilkison, Early Days in Central Otago Whitcoulls, Christchurch, 1978
N. Harwood and P. Woodmansey, Historic buildings appraisal, St Bathans, Otago, Department of Conservation Science Internal Series 185, 2004
G. Nicolson-Garrett, St. Bathans, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1977
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area 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.