Old Bank Tavern

232 Stafford Street And Church Street, Timaru

  • Old Bank Tavern. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Graeme Partridge. Taken By: Graeme Partridge. Date: 6/04/2010.
  • Old Bank Tavern. February 1993.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: Pam Wilson.
  • Old Bank Tavern. Original image submitted at time of registration.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: C Cochran. Date: 8/07/1983.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3159 Date Entered 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 6763 (CT CB354/154), Canterbury Land District and the building known as Old Bank Tavern thereon.

City/District Council

Timaru District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 6763 (CT CB354/154), Canterbury Land District


The Old Bank Tavern in Timaru was erected in 1876 and has been the site of a hotel since the 1860s. Its name references the earliest period of European settlement in Timaru and the founding of the Bank of New Zealand. As a hotel, the Old Bank Tavern has local social and historical significance as a popular venue for entertainment and accommodation and has architectural significance as a prominent corner building on a busy thoroughfare. The building has archaeological value as a nineteenth century hotel on the site of earlier pre-1900 buildings.

The land on which the Old Bank Tavern is situated was formerly part of Rural Section (RS) 7555, granted by the Crown to George Rhodes and another, probably William Barnard Rhodes. In 1853 the Rhodes Brothers had RS 7555, and adjoining RS 703, surveyed as ‘Rhodes Town’ and subdivided sections were sold for commercial and residential occupation. The subject land was formerly part of Lot 98 of RS 7555. In 1862, in a wooden building at this site, the Timaru agency of the Bank of New Zealand was opened, of which W. B. Rhodes was a founder.

In 1863 the Bank of New Zealand acquired freehold title to Lot 79, situated on the corner of Stafford and George Streets. Here a permanent branch was built and the wooden building at the corner of Stafford and Church Streets became a hotel, known as the Old Bank Tavern. In 1867 the freehold of Lot 98 was transferred to George Healey, although the license for the hotel had been transferred to him in 1864. Lot 98 was leased to Charles Walkden Wood in 1875. In June 1876 a tender from H. Thornton for construction of a new building for the Old Bank Tavern was accepted by architect, Daniel West and the former Old Bank Tavern building was demolished later that month.

Wood opened his ‘new and commodious hotel’ in the new building in October 1876. It is a substantial brick building over two storeys with two prominent façades fronting Church Street and Stafford Street. The upper storey features rounded windows with square windows on the ground floor. The main entrance was situated on the corner of Church and Stafford Streets beneath a decorative arched lintel. A cantilevered cornice was described as a prominent feature at the time of original construction. Internally the ground floor provided a private bar, sitting rooms, billiard room, dining room, kitchen, storeroom and a yard with an underground tank. The second storey accommodated 16 bedrooms, a sitting room and bath room. The building originally incorporated a stone store built facing Church Street, although this building was probably among those destroyed by a fire in 1882. In 1877 Wood fitted the hotel with a system of electric bells to connect the bedrooms with service areas.

The Old Bank Tavern changed hands throughout the remainder of the 19th century and 20th century. M. Spillane purchased the lease of the hotel in 1885 and announced that ‘considerable improvements’ had been made to the building. The brick façade was plastered over, probably in the mid-20th century, but the exterior of the building retains most of its original features. Some changes have been made to fenestration on the ground floor, including relocation of the main entrance to the Stafford Street frontage, although the decorative arched entrance surround has been retained. A fire escape obscures the original string course and a large advertising hoarding covers much of the corner. The parapet has been modified with some of the decorative cornice removed. The internal spaces have been variously modified since its original construction.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

West, Daniel

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

H. Thornton

Contractor for the c. 1876 Old Bank Tavern, Timaru

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Completion Date

23rd June 2017

Report Written By

Christine Whybrew

Information Sources

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

John Wilson. 'South Canterbury region - Timaru and its port', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 21-Sep-12, URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/interactive/11338/timarus-two-towns, accessed 25 July 2016

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 Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.