Heatherbell Hotel

4238 State Highway 7, Totara Flat

  • Heatherbell Hotel.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Robyn Burgess. Date: 25/02/2014.
  • Heatherbell Hotel.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Nic Jackson. Date: 20/04/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7309 Date Entered 19th April 1996

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 2395 (CT WS5B/779), Westland Land District and the building known as Heatherbell Hotel thereon.

City/District Council

Grey District

Region

West Coast Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 2395 (CT WS5B/779), Westland Land District

Summaryopen/close

The Totara Flat Hotel, now known as the Heatherbell Hotel, represents a continuous stream of history as a hotel for the local timber and farming community and its visitors since about 1870. Known as the Heatherbell Hotel since at least 1919, it is located in a prominent position fronting the eastern side of the main road, State Highway 7, in the small township of Totara Flat.

Totata Flat township was established in the mid 1860s when gold mining in the general Upper Grey area was flourishing and thousands of men were working claims at nearby mines. In 1866, ‘the Totara Flat’ was described as being an area that is ‘chiefly open fern and grass levels, very flat and swampy’. Enough people found it suitable for agricultural purposes that it soon developed into a small farming settlement. By 1869, Antonio Lardi had established a hotel and store. At least one more hotel, that of James Marshall, was built by early 1873. By 1875, William Cochrane had the Globe Hotel at Totara Flat. It likely that one of these early Totara Flat hotels is that now known as the Heatherbell Hotel.

The front part of the timber Heatherbell Hotel has the appearance of an 1870s roadside tavern or accommodation house. This architectural form is an extension of the colonial box cottage into a long rectangular single storey building, flush gabled at either end with a post-verandah along the front. Typical of nineteenth century buildings, the exterior has a brick chimney with cornice, corrugated iron roof with dormer windows, panelled doors and double hung sash windows. The northern third of the western elevation has rusticated weatherboard, whereas the remainder of the main western façade is narrower ship-lapped weatherboard. A pair of gabled wings project to the rear of the building. Previously there was a tall brick chimney on the roof towards the north-west end of the building.

The site itself has been occupied since the 1870s, and the hotel, as one of only two or three hotels in the small town, was a significant focus of community life. Small hotels were common in colonial New Zealand where poor roads made travel slow and physically exhausting by modern standards. The eight-roomed accommodation house was purchased in around 1878 by William Young, a former gold miner and then Totara Flat businessman and farmer, who ran the hotel on and off for some 40 years. Young also owned one of the two stores, the bakery, the livery stables and a significant shareholding in the local dairy factory. The hotel was a central stopping point between the larger towns of Greymouth and Reefton and was frequently a venue for meetings. In 2003, the bar of the Heatherbell Hotel was closed but it continued to operate as a bed and breakfast and provide postal services to the local community.

It appears from the exterior that much timberwork has been replaced over time. The tall brick chimney towards the north-west end of the building was removed some time since 1991. Alterations were made in 2003.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The Heatherbell Hotel was opened about 1870 as an eight-room accommodation house for William Young, a Totara Flat businessman and farmer who also owned one the two stores, the bakery and the livery stables and held a significance shareholding in the dairy factory.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Archaeological:

The site has been occupied since the 1870s and therefore has archaeological significance.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Social:

As one of only two hotels in the small town, this building would have been a focus of community life. Today it still functions as a hotel and postal service centre.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The following comments are made in relation to the criteria identified under S.23(2) of the Historic Places Act 1993.

a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

Small hotels were common in colonial New Zealand where poor roads made travel slow and physically exhausting by modern standards. The historical significance of the Totara Flat hotel is representative.

c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

This building is an archaeological site (the reference to the remains of the old bakehouse behind the hotel is interesting). It would also appear to be rare in that the building has been in use as an hotel for 125 years.

Conclusion:

Heatherbell Hotel is recommended for registration as a Category II as a place of historical and cultural heritage significance and value. The site itself has been occupied since the 1870s, and the hotel, as one of only two hotels in a small town, was a significant focus of community life. The continuous use of the building as a hotel throughout its life is a somewhat rare feature of its history.

Linksopen/close

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1870 -

Modification
2003 -

Completion Date

26th March 2014

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1906

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 5, Nelson, Marlborough, Westland, 1906

'Totara Flat'

Grey River Argus

Grey River Argus

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region office .

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Regional Office of the NZHPT.

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.