Oamaru Mail Office and Hodge and Jones Saddlery (Former)

16 Tyne Street, Oamaru

  • Oamaru Mail Office and Hodge and Jones Saddlery (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 3/04/2008.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3365 Date Entered 25th September 1986

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

The extent includes part of the land described as Sec 5 DP 2023 (CT OT 8C/322), Otago Land District, and the building known as the Oamaru Mail Office and Hodge and Jones Saddlery (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Waitaki District

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Sec 5 Blk DP 2023 (CT OT 8C/322), Otago Land District

Summaryopen/close

Built in 1884 as home of the Oamaru Mail and of saddlery business Hodge and Jones, this modest stone building is a significant survivor of the Victorian era in what is now a mainly industrial area.

Newspapers were as important in Victorian times as they are today – they provided factual information, acted as watchdogs against abuse of power and were a forum for opinions. Oamaru supported a number of newspapers in its early years: Frank Pinkerton published the Oamaru Times and Waitaki Reporter (after 1872 the North Otago Times) in early 1864. In April 1870 William Roynane and Co published the Oamaru Herald later incorporated into the Oamaru Times. In 1876 William Steward, then mayor of Oamaru, published the short-lived North Otago Standard.

A group of local businessmen decided that an evening newspaper should be published in the town. The paper was registered as the ‘Evening Mail’, and the first issue came out on 22 April 1876. The paper’s first premises were a single storey building on Tyne Street. The paper was not a great success. It was rescued by George Jones (1844-1920), an experienced printer and publisher. He bought the company and issued his first publication on 12 May 1877.

Jones, born in the Hutt Valley and educated in Geelong, was involved in the printing business from the age of fourteen. He returned to New Zealand in 1863 and was employed on a number of papers. He founded the Waikato Times in 1870 and two years later the Echo in Auckland. He founded the Evening News in Dunedin before buying the Evening Mail in 1877. He won the Waitaki seat in Parliament in 1880. He was also called to the Legislative Council, serving two terms until his death in 1920.

Jones changed the Evening Mail’s fortune, although in an unexpected way. He devoted an article to the subject of speculation around native lands in relation to a Bill before parliament, implying that the then Attorney General was an interested party. Jones was summoned to appear in the House, where he was recalcitrant and was made a prisoner under the Sergeant of Arms. The House ordered a criminal prosecution. Jones was tried for libel by a special jury and acquitted. This was the first State trial by order of Parliament. It vindicated the right of the press to comment on matters of public interest. As a result the Evening Mail became notorious and attracted much publicity. Businesses were keen to advertise and the paper grew. In March 1879 Jones decided to identify his paper with the town and changed the title to the Oamaru Mail. Such was the growth of the paper that new premises were needed.

Forrester and Lemon designed a new two storeyed building on the west side of Tyne Street in 1884. Tenders were advertised in the Oamaru Mail on 29 February 1884.

In May 1884 saddlers Hodge and Jones moved into their new premises. Photographs identify their shop as the single storey premises adjacent to the Oamaru Mail’s two storey building. Archibald Hodge and William Jones (no relation to George) took over the business of Thomas Morris in 1877. They carried on the business together until Jones’ death in 1903, after which time Hodge continued to trade as Hodge and Jones.

By 1900 linotypes were installed and a weekly supplement was added. By 1905 the paper was double the size it had been in 1877. The Oamaru Mail played another significant role in Oamaru with the owner and editor’s support for the Prohibition movement in North Otago. No license was secured for Oamaru in 1905, the cause publicised through the columns of the paper.

In 1906 the Oamaru Mail moved to new premises on the east side of Tyne Street in what had been Smith’s Grain Store (Register No. 4380). Hodge and Jones relocated their premises to Thames Street in 1908.

George Jones died in 1920 and was remembered for his notable fifty year career in journalism and his contribution to New Zealand politics.

After the Oamaru Mail and Hodge and Jones moved out Neil Gilchrist bought the property in 1909. He sold to the Waitaki Dairy Company in 1912. They occupied the premises until The Taieri and Peninsula Milk Supply Company Ltd and The Cooperative Dairy Company of Otago Ltd in 1939 bought the property in 1939. From the 1940s the building has been associated with engineering companies – first the North Otago Engineering Company and later Gilllies Engineering Company.

In 2013 the former ‘Oamaru Mail Office and Hodge and Jones’ Saddlery’ remains significant as a surviving Victorian building in the Harbour/Tyne Historic Area and is home to the Crucible Gallery.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Forrester & Lemon

The architectural partnership of Forrester and Lemon was established in Oamaru in 1872.

Thomas Forrester (1838-1907) was born in Glasgow and educated at the Glasgow School of Art. Emigrating to New Zealand in 1861 he settled in Dunedin and worked under William Mason (1810-97) and William Henry Clayton (1823-77) and later Robert Arthur Lawson (1833-1902). In 1865 he superintended the Dunedin Exhibition and from 1870 he became involved with the supervision of harbour works. Some time after 1885 he became Engineer to the Oamaru Harbour Board and in this capacity designed the repairs to the breakwater following storm damage in 1886 and later the Holmes Wharf. On his death in 1907 he was still in the employ of the Harbour Board.

John Lemon (1828-1890) was born in Jamaica and travelled to England before emigrating to New Zealand in 1849. He settled in Oamaru in 1860 and with his brother Charles established a timber merchant's business. By 1869 he was in partnership with his father-in-law, George Sumpter calling themselves "Timber and General Merchants, Land and Commission Agents". This partnership was dissolved in 1872 and Lemon entered into partnership with Forrester. Lemon had no architectural experience at all, but had a wide circle of business contacts and was an efficient administrator.

Buildings designed by the partnership of Forrester and Lemon include St Paul's Church (1875-76), the Harbour Board Offices (1876), Queen's (later Brydone) Hotel (1881), Waitaki Boys' High School (1883), The Courthouse (1883) and the Post Office (1883-84), all in Oamaru. Forrester and Lemon contributed greatly to Oamaru's nineteenth century character. On Lemon's death in 1890 the practice was taken over by Forrester's son, John Megget Forrester (1865-1965).

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1884 -

Completion Date

13th May 2013

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1905

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 4 Otago and Southland, Cyclopedia Company, Christchurch, 1905

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc04Cycl-t1-body1-d4-d25-d15.html , accessed 6 May 2013.

McCarthy, 2002

Conal McCarthy, Forrester and Lemon of Oamaru, architects, Oamaru, 2002

Muirhead, 1990

Syd Muirhead, Historic North Otago, Oamaru Mail, 1990

Other Information

A fully referenced Upgrade Report is available from the Otago/Southland Area office of NZHPT.

This registration is also included in the Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area (Record no. 7064).

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.