White Horse Hotel (Former)
4149 Becks-Lauder Road (State Highway 85), Becks
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
19th April 1990
Extent of List Entry
The extent includes the land in Lot 1 DP 21992 (CT OT14A/476), Otago Land District, and the building known as the White Horse Hotel (Former) thereon, and its fixtures and fittings.
Central Otago District
Lot 1 DP 21992 (CT OT14A/476), Otago Land District
From its opening in 1864 until it closed in 1925, the White Horse Hotel (Former) formed the nucleus of the small Central Otago farming settlement of Becks and provided a place of rest for travellers. The former hotel has historical, architectural and social significance as the focus of this small community, and as a good example of a nineteenth century accommodation house.
The main road between Naseby and Clyde traversed Roughridge into the Manuherikia Valley, crossing the Manuherikia River close to its confluence with Dunstan Creek. In 1864, John Beck established the hotel near the crossing point. At the White Horse Hotel, passengers dined while the horses were changed. By 1866, the crossing place at the Manuherikia River was being referred to as Beck’s.
Hotel keeping was a family affair. Beck married Louisa Jasper in 1865, and together they ran the hotel and farmed an agricultural lease until John’s death in 1871. After John’s death, the hotel is most closely associated with Louisa and her sister Ann Milward. Ann’s husband James Milward was granted title to the land. James died in 1881, and Ann briefly owned the land until it was transferred to Louisa McMorran in 1881. In 1874, Louisa Beck had married Robert McMorran, so the link to the hotel’s early days continued with Louisa taking over her late husband’s business. Ann may have stayed on with her sister as she is reported as having the license in 1882. Ann died in April 1885. After McMorran died in 1881, Louisa again remarried, this time to Shotover farmer William Fisher.
William and Louisa Fisher ran the hotel until 1909. A post office was set up in the hotel in 1878, with telephone facilities added in 1896. The 1905 Cyclopedia of New Zealand records that the hotel had ten bedrooms, two sitting rooms and a ‘commodious dining room’ that could accommodate sixteen guests. The hotel buildings (constructed of stone, wood and iron) included an eight-stall stable with loose boxes. In 1905, Louisa Fisher commissioned St Bathans builder Thomas Wilkinson to construct ‘a substantial wood and iron building to be used for the purposes of a public hall.’
Louisa Fisher put the White Horse Hotel up for sale in February 1909. Robert Mee bought the 779 acres (315 hectares) of freehold, with the hall, a dwelling house of 16 rooms, a four-stalled stable, 3 looseboxes, woolshed, chaffhouse, men’s hut, sheepyards and stockyards and a water right. Mee ran the hotel until 1925, when he built new premises (also known as the White Horse Hotel) across the road. The old hotel closed and the building was used as a residence and a shop until around 1958. The old White Horse Hotel fell into a state of disrepair until March 1990, when a group of locals formed the Old White Horse Hotel Historical Society. The then owner Kevin Kane donated the building to the society, and the society set about raising money to make the building weathertight, with plans to restore it as funds are available. Work completed includes restoration of the exterior stonework, reroofing and some interior work. In 2014, the first White Horse Hotel building remains a roadside attraction in the small Becks settlement.
Thomas Wilkinson the stonemason lived at St. Bathans and had worked on the restoration of Edinburgh Cathedral before coming to New Zealand in search of gold.
Timber and corrugated iron addition
Concrete slab floor, exterior stonework restored by Keith Hinds
2nd December 2014
Report Written By
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
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.