Historical Significance or Value
The former Swan Hotel has been in continuous use for the same purpose since 1856 or early 1857. It is historically significant as a relatively well-preserved remnant of early colonial Auckland. It reflects a variety of activities including lodging, aspects of working-class recreation, and other commercial use.
From 1904 the building was associated with the colonial brewing company Campbell & Ehrenfried Co. Ltd, formed by merger in 1898 between Brown & Campbell, one partner of which was Sir John Logan Campbell, and the German brewers Louis and Bernard Ehrenfried.
Located in an area that has been associated with manufacturing and other related activities since colonial times, the hotel has had a strong association with local working-class culture, which it retains today.
While in itself not "high architecture" the former Swan Hotel is, for Auckland, a rare and special historic place. It has particular significance for its occupation of an important corner site, its consistency of use and its survival as one of a very small number of extant corner "pubs" from the earlier period of Auckland's development. Its association with the original foreshore and its role as a literal benchmark in the foundation of the rail network in Auckland all add to this significance.
The building is architecturally important as a very early surviving example of timber hotel construction in the Auckland region and beyond. It is valuable as a relatively well-preserved 1850s public house which, while modified to appeal to a twentieth century clientele, retains many features of a typical Victorian corner pub and hotel. While modified on the ground floor to cater to the 'booze barn' style of the late twentieth century, it preserves intact most of the accommodation wings that developed with it as the building expanded up Parnell Rise. Particularly significant are the survival of the 1850s rooms above the original inn, as well as the narrow corridor of the 1880 addition with its flanking ranges of small bedrooms on the first floor. The more spacious planning of the brick building erected in 1909 demonstrates how hotel accommodation standards evolved during the early twentieth century.
As the building consists of a fusion of 1850s and 1909 buildings, its structure and site are likely to provide insights through archaeological methods about New Zealand history. Information is likely to be produced about aspects such as brick and timber production, construction, and use of the building. Archaeological deposits linked to the use of the public house may also survive in the courtyard.
The former Swan Hotel has social significance for its long association as a public house with its local community (from circa 1856 to the present), and as the first pub in Mechanics Bay.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
Associated with the growth of Auckland from primary industries located nearby, to the building of the railway, the former Swan Hotel served as a social venue for workers in these industries as well as accommodation for visitors to the city.
The hotel reflects important and representative aspects of New Zealand history, including early colonial drinking culture and requirements for temporary residential accommodation in a major port and commercial centre. It has early connections with both Pakeha and Maori attitudes towards alcohol.
The alterations and expansion of the hotel reflect the changes in social interaction and values associated with alcohol consumption.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
The place has some significance for its associations with colonial brewers Campbell & Ehrenfried Co. Ltd, a company formed by the amalgamation of the province's major brewers Brown & Campbell and the Ehrenfried Brothers.
(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history
The former Swan Hotel has strong potential to provide knowledge of New Zealand history, having significant amounts of 1850s, 1880s and early twentieth century fabric remaining. Some of its potential relates to aspects of nineteenth-century working class recreation that are not substantially or objectively covered by documentary sources.
(f) The potential of the place for public education
The former Swan Hotel has potential for public education. It is located on a busy corner site at a busy road interchange in central Auckland. The form, scale and material of the building provide potential for education as a rare remnant of mid-nineteenth century Auckland.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place
The place is significant as a surviving early colonial Georgian timber hotel. It retains important elements of a mid-nineteenth-century and early twentieth century hotel accommodation layout, which have generally been highly modified in other timber taverns retained as pubs during the twentieth century. It is highly significant as a hotel complex that has remained standing, viable and continuing to serve its local community and in good condition for 148 years.
(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement
The former Swan Hotel dates to the early colonial period, having been erected within sixteen years of Auckland's colonial foundation. It is highly significant as the earliest timber public house currently known to survive in Mechanics Bay and Parnell.
(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places
The place is significant as a rare surviving early colonial Georgian hotel. Only one older example of a timber public house (the Prince of Wales, possibly 1851) may survive in central Auckland.
Mechanics Bay and the 'Shipwrights Arms'
From the earliest period of Auckland's colonial history, Mechanics Bay was a major commercial and industrial suburb. Known as Waipapa by Maori, the locality was renamed Mechanics Bay at the foundation of Auckland in 1840, when it was the designated area for occupation by workmen and artisans. Raupo whare were erected to provide temporary accommodation for the first influx of Pakeha settlers, while in September 1841, suburban sections of land were on the market. Substantial industrial enterprises subsequently developed, including the sawpits of Messrs Carson and Clark, James Robertson's ropeworks - which produced rope of all kinds for export to Australia - and the business of Henry Nicol and William Sharpe, shipwrights, which remained on the foreshore until 1872. The main thoroughfare between Auckland and Parnell also ran along the foreshore, crossing the tidal inlet at the eastern end of the bay via a small timber bridge.
Industrial activity co-existed with Waipapa's use as the main landing reserve for Maori importing and exporting goods to the colonial capital by waka, particularly after Tamaki had been sold. In 1848, 20,000 tons of potatoes, apples, peaches and wheat passed through the reserve. Two years later, Ngati Whatua built the Waipapa hostel to house Maori visitors to the town. The reserve upon which the hostel stood was the only piece of Ngati Whatua land in Auckland.
Five acres of land opposite the hostel was granted to Frederick Whitaker as a Crown Grant in October 1844. In 1849, a prime site made up of Lots 5 and 6 close to the foreshore on the corner of the main Parnell Road and Stanley Street was sold to the merchant David Nathan. This land was bought by George Leech the following year, who subsequently sought to serve the recreational needs of the local shipwrights, sailors, timber workers and rope winders, as well as to provide accommodation for the many visitors coming to the bay. In April 1856, he applied for a licence for a public house of 23 rooms to be known as 'The Shipwright's Arms.' This was a large amount of rooms for a licensed hotel in Auckland, with less than twelve being a more usual number. His application may reflect the popularity of businesses in Mechanics Bay as a source of casual work. Preferential treatment for licences was often given to public houses with quality accommodation as a counterweight to the fear that such establishments might be used as drinking dens.
Leech's application was initially unsuccessful as a result of opposition through a 'petition from thirty natives... and several European inhabitants.' There was considerable concern about alcohol consumption from religious groups and middle-class citizenry in the early colonial period, as such groups generally considered that drink undermined virtuous aspects of the colonial enterprise such as the settler work ethic as well as individual moral character. Organisations such as the Auckland Total Abstinence Society, St Patrick's Temperance Society and the Council of the Auckland League of Temperance were consequently established in Auckland during the 1840s and 1850s. Fear of alcohol's effect on the 'civilising' of Maori was particularly strong, and legislation against serving Maori with spirits enforced.
Leech believed that the proximity of the Maori Hostelry across Stanley Street was a factor in the decision to refuse him his license, and he argued his case through letters to a local newspaper. Apart from noting that several existing public houses were located close to Maori settlements or gathering places, such as the Royal George in Newmarket or the New Leith in Onehunga he made a plea for respectability:
My house had been designed not for a mere tavern...no, my house was designed to be a spacious and comfortable hotel, in which families whom contrary winds or other circumstances of necessity sometimes detain in town...Presuming, Mr Editor that you yourself in some of your evening rambles may have passed my house, situate in Mechanic's Bay...I will appeal to you...to say whether the premises of any of those fortunate favourites of the Progress Bench, whose applications were entertained so favourably, could be compared to mine for extent, capability of accommodation, cleanliness or salubrity of situation.'
Leech's account strongly suggests that the hotel had already been constructed, possibly in 1855 or early 1856. Early photographs show the hotel as a modest two storeyed timber building having four windows on each of the first floor Parnell Rise and Stanley Street elevations, a pair of large windows on the ground floor, and at least two entrances leading respectively onto Parnell Rise and Stanley Street, with a separate access to the public bar near the street corner. Leech's campaign was evidently successful as a licence was granted for the premises as the 'Victory of Sebastopol' between April 1856 and April 1857.10 This was a topical name, with Sebastapol having been the last major battle between British and Russian forces during the Crimean War (1854-1856). The premises retained this title until 1859, when they were re-named the Swan Hotel.
The Swan Hotel
Inns were often located on major traffic routes, catering for travellers by providing food, drink and accommodation, as well as offering stabling for horses. For social interaction there was generally a bar or tap room for working class liquor consumption, and a parlour for more 'gentlemanly' drinking. The Swan Hotel was well located to attract passing trade on the Auckland-Parnell Road, being situated between two steep hills, one into Auckland and the other towards Parnell. Lying immediately across the main road from the bay, it was also positioned at the intersection of the road down from Grafton Gully and a route eastwards along the foreshore. It was the only public house in Mechanics Bay, and the only one between Auckland and Parnell. In 1863, a significant amount of subdivision took place to the east, leading to a greater density of housing - and prospective clients - in the immediate vicinity. A more substantial change to the immediate landscape took place in 1865-1866, with the construction of a bridge and viaduct very close to the east of the hotel, as part of the proposed Auckland and Drury railway line. The corner sill of the hotel was used as a benchmark to establish the levels for this structure. As construction on this and other nearby works lasted for more than a year, it is likely that the Swan entertained some of the project's substantial workforce.
George Leech died in November 1868, his funeral procession leaving from the Swan Inn. He was described at his death as very old (aged 61) and respected, well known in Auckland, having been in colony for a number of years. His property was left to his wife, Margaret.
Although the Auckland and Drury Railway project had not been finished in the 1860s, the bridge and viaduct were eventually brought into use with the advent of Vogel's public works schemes in the 1870s, which enabled the Auckland to Onehunga line to be completed by December 1873. This involved considerable reclamation works in Mechanics Bay, which effectively removed the Swan Hotel from its earlier foreshore aspect. The area, already an important industrial area, saw others setting up businesses. The hotel was expanded to service a growing number of local residents, visitors and industrial workers.
In the early 1870s an adjoining cottage was added on to the Stanley Street side, to contain dining and billiard rooms. In December 1880, the New Zealand Herald reported that Edward Bartley had directed more significant alterations, including eleven additional bedrooms, bathrooms, a store-room, a wash-house and a new kitchen. The building was extended 9.7m (32 feet) in length by adding a second storey over the billiard and dining rooms, giving the hotel 'an imposing frontage to Stanley St, as well as to the Manukau Road' (i.e. Parnell Rise). The major facades were also remodelled, while a detached stable and coach house were probably built in the southeastern corner of property. These alterations reflect a more general modernisation of public houses in Auckland during the 1870s and 1880s, caused by increasing competition for trade between innkeepers and new legislation that allowed the general public to vote on local licensing issues.
A fire was reported on 1 January 1889, which started in the buildings adjoining the Swan Hotel and spread to the upper rooms of the hotel threatening to destroy the building. However, firemen were able to put it out with comparatively little damage. In the following year Sarah Leahy - one of George Leech's daughters - gave up her rights to the hotel to Louis Ehrenfried for £2,000, and in 1896 Margaret Leech died. In 1904, the property was sold to the Campbell and Ehrenfried Company. Two of George Leech's sons-in-law, George Leahy, blacksmith and Roger Kay tanner, had been running their businesses on the adjoining properties.
Campbell and Ehrenfried had been formed in 1898 from two large breweries, respectively run by Louis Ehrenfried, a former mayor of Thames and immigrant from Germany, and John Logan Campbell, sometimes known as the 'Father of Auckland' for his philanthropic works and role as a pioneering merchant. At the turn of the century, such breweries found that they needed to buy hotels in order to ensure secure outlets in a competitive market. This activity was in contrast to the situation in earlier colonial New Zealand, where breweries had once been founded to serve the needs of hotels. Breweries also looked to other means of gaining commercial revenue.
In 1909 plans were drawn up by architect B.C. Chilwell for three brick shops to be built adjoining the Swan Hotel on the Parnell Rise side, of two storeys in height. Eleven hotel bedrooms were also incorporated on the first floor of this addition, and two bathrooms on its mezzanine floor. The contractor was Philcox & Son, whose business was on a neighbouring lot on Stanley Street. In 1912 the ground floor facilities of the hotel were also upgraded. The bar was expanded into one of the adjoining shops, and the front entrance was altered. The contractor was J.E. Guthrie. Such modifications took place at a time when the influence of the temperance movement was at its height, nearly gaining national prohibition in the early 1900s.
Hancock & Company Ltd. bought the property in 1927, by which time the premises had changed its name to the Strand Hotel. Hancock & Company was another long-established Auckland brewery, connected with beer production in the city since before 1862. From the 1940s, changes occurred in the nation's drinking habits, which had since the latter half of the nineteenth century been influenced by the temperance movement. Whereas previously drinking in public bars was considered an activity for working class men - with the higher echelons of society either drinking in clubs, at home or not at all - international experiences during the Second World War (1939-1945) created a more liberal attitude. In the era of six o'clock closing liquor licensing laws, a public bar was rough and noisy, and catered for the working man drinking in the short time between work and closing time. Increasingly however, there was a demand for public places for women to drink, and so many hotels created ladies lounges where men were only allowed in the company of women. Private bars were for the entertainment of businessmen.
In 1956 alterations were undertaken which expanded the tavern activities into the entire ground floor of the adjacent shops. While the public bar remained in the 1912 space, a private bar and a ladies lounge were created. The bedrooms and bathrooms were also upgraded. The contractor was P. Shipman & Sons, carrying out the work at an estimated cost of £8,600. The façade was extensively altered, with roughcast stucco over the existing brick and weatherboard significantly altering the appearance of the building.
In this form, the hotel survived minor internal changes, such as removal of the island bar counter in the public bar and the installation of a new cool room and grill between 1962 and 1977. In 1987, under Lion Breweries ownership, external alterations were made to the hotel including larger doorways to serve both bars, rendered in a twentieth-century Colonial Revival style, with Edwardian-influenced details. Ownership of the tavern has subsequently passed to New Zealand Breweries Ltd, Lion Nathan Ltd and the Strand Tavern Ltd 1999. The building continues in use as a public house and hotel.
The Swan Hotel (Former) sits on a large corner site at the busy intersection of Beach Road, Stanley Street, the Strand and Parnell Rise. Although aspects of its surroundings have been significantly altered by recent activities such as the construction of the Grafton Gully motorway to port link immediately to its west, the flat site retains some relationship to its historic landscape. This includes the 1860s railway bridge and viaduct immediately to its east, while both Stanley Street and Parnell Rise pre-date construction of the public house. Today, the site and the hotel still mark an important threshold between city, suburb, port and heartland.
The structure is a two-storey timber framed building with attached two-storey brick buildings on its Parnell Rise frontage. Its appearance is an eclectic mix of styles and periods, but with still-discernable early Victorian roots typical of hotel design of the 1850-1880 period. The earlier corner site building reads as an independently legible block. A series of nine windows at first floor level on the Stanley Street elevation suggests no change to the form since at least 1903. However, the ground floor is not so untouched and displays alterations to earlier openings, which have converted windows into doors and single door openings into multiple adjacent entries. The ground floor windows that appear unaffected are typical of much earlier periods (double-hung six-light sashes). The ground level of the Parnell Rise elevation has been significantly modified, but the rough openings of the original adjacent retail building suggest that the current openings are not much enlarged. Openings on the first floor of this elevation match evidence of original openings from 1855 in the earlier hotel block, and the designed openings (but not detail) of the now much altered retail block.
There have been a series of attempts to unify later additions and associated buildings into a common form and to better present the hotel to its important street frontages and significant corner site.
The 1880 alterations (architect Edward Bartley is credited with this work and it is typical of the type and scale of similar projects undertaken by him at this time) looked to rationalise the original two-storey hotel block with the adjoining single-storey dining and billiard room by extending the single-storey addition up to include a second floor. While the rhythm of widow openings might not be as formal as might be expected, the unifying effect of a common parapet provided cohesion to the block. It appears that it is at this time that an earlier chamfered ground floor corner entry and cantilevered first floor over were reworked as a consistent chamfered corner over both floors. Additions between 1909 and 1912 saw the extension of the hotel into three adjacent existing retail spaces on Parnell Rise. While the front facades of these three 1909 buildings were significantly altered in 1956, again in an attempt to provide a sense of clarity to the full extent of the hotel, much of the roof, the rear elevations and the first floor level of these buildings appears to have survived in reasonably original form.
Today the street elevations are clad in painted roughcast Portland cement render. This is a technique commonly used in the 1950s to reduce maintenance on domestic weatherboard buildings. Typically this finish was reserved only for the street faces of the building and laid over the original timber cladding (e.g. the Edinburgh Castle on the corner of Newton Road and Upper Symonds Street). Elevations that do not face the streets, particularly the courtyard elevations to the east and south, are clad in timber weatherboards or are of rendered masonry. Both these cladding types are typical of historic cladding systems of the periods at the time of construction and are likely to be original. There are also double-hung six-light sash windows at first floor level of the courtyard elevation of the Bartley addition to the original Swan Hotel, which are again typical of the period. All windows and doors are timber framed. Most windows on the principal street elevations date from the 1956 alterations or later, but some of the Stanley Street window frames particularly those in the original section of the Swan, are clearly from earlier periods (including the 1880 Bartley additions and alterations). The compound 2-piece architraves of the first section of the building are clearly distinguished from the single piece machine-moulded architraves that occur on the later Bartley extension, at the southern end of the building on Stanley Street.
All the roofs are clad in corrugated iron. There are four surviving brick chimney stacks, three of which have a plastered render finish, the other features polychromatic brickwork. These chimneys are original.
The building's current mass and form relate to a series of additions and alterations linked to the expansion of the hotel, as described in the history section of this registration proposal. There is clear evidence of many of these historic development layers and simple buildings archaeology can demonstrate the potential for more historic building fabric to be revealed.
The present lounge bar, its adjacent service area and half of the public bar are located in the ground floor of the 1909 building. Their wall divisions recall the three shop spaces that provided the space to create these bars. The chamfered corner of the Parnell Rise portion of the public bar is one of the few features that identify its former function. To the rear of the lounge bar is a Pokies Room resplendent with glittering gambling machines. Behind this is a single-storey conservatory, used as a salad bar during summer, and beyond this a single-storey garage.
The public bar is served by a service area containing chillers, formed mostly from the center shop of the 1909 structure. Toilets are located against the southern wall of the 1909 building.
The balance of the lounge bar occupies the remaining ground floor area of the timber building, and a counter leads on to a small kitchen. A door in the southwest corner of the lounge bar leads to a stairwell, which provides access to the accommodation areas. Below this stair are steps leading down to the Swan Hotel's cellar, currently occupied by a chiller.
In 2004, much of the original layout remains and the accommodation sections of both blocks of the former Swan Hotel building are well-patronised by short-term construction workers engaged on motorway extensions, as well as a small number of long term tenants occupying single bedrooms and suites of up to three rooms.
The main area of accommodation is in the original Swan Hotel and its Bartley addition of 1880 on Stanley Street. A long narrow hallway accessed from the Stanley Street entrance is reached from a (restored) timber staircase with turned timber balustrade, which serves a landing connecting mezzanine with the first floor. The eight individual bedrooms on this floor are served by shared service spaces one toilet, a bathroom and a sitting room, as indicated on the 1956 plan. The south end of this wing connects to the ground floor by a steep stair to the ground floor. Windows provide access to a steel and timber fire escape that runs along the west elevation at first floor level. The five rooms on the east facade look out onto a timber verandah and a pleasant courtyard, and are connected by a timber walkway to the flat roof of the brick addition, and by a door which leads to other common facilities and the hallway serving accommodation in the east wing of the brick section of the building. The wall surfaces in this area appear to have been replaced with a proprietary fire-rated wallboard, however the original ceilings remain, along with transom ventilators to each bedroom. Doors appear to have been overlaid with either ply or hardboard, but in common with other doors in this wing that were available for inspection, are the original doors, probably updated in 1956. A sprinkler system serves this wing and indeed the entire complex, which is one reason why little change has occurred in the interests of fire safety upgrading.
While access to all bedrooms was not possible due to their individual tenanting, access to adjacent common areas and staff rest space made it possible to inspect typical details, such as two piece door architraves, typical skirting details and door upgrade treatments that retained original panelled doors.
The north section of the upper floor of the original Swan Hotel now serves as space for staff, comprising an office, bedroom, lounge, house bar, manager's bedroom and sitting room.
The 1909 building
The brick wing constructed in 1909 contrasts stylistically in its detailing with the Swan Hotel of 1855-80. It connects at the same level with the original Swan, but a short staircase connects this level with the main range of first floor rooms.
Fortunately the attempt at l'unité de style carried out on the exterior was not pursued in the interior and the 1909 building retains much of its original detailing, its unusual four-panel doors, architraves, skirtings and ceilings. Its pearl glass light fittings testify to the arrival of electricity to the Swan Hotel in the twentieth century. Being constructed in masonry, alterations were not easily carried out on this wing and it generally better preserves its original floor plan.
Built with ten bedrooms, this block now has five rooms. One has been converted to a bathroom, one to a shared lounge and three have been converted to open into one another forming a self-contained flat. The bathrooms at the southern end of this floor are more or less intact.
1855 - 1856
Started c.1855-1856, completed before May 1856.
Timber extension on Stanley Street frontage, containing dining and billiard rooms.
Second storey added to Stanley Street frontage (Architect: Edward Bartley). Detached stable and coach house erected, probably in south-eastern corner of property.
Brick shops erected on eastern side of Parnell Rise frontage, with hotel bedrooms over (Architect: B.C. Chilwell).
Extension of public bar to incorporate part of 1909 shops (Architect: B.C. Chilwell).
Minor alterations to Parnell Rise frontage.
Major alterations to ground floor layout and street frontages, including roughcasting of the exterior (Architects: Edward, Pipe and Sargent Associates).
Internal alterations, including removal of island bar counter.
Internal alterations, including new cool room.
Insertion of new grill facilities.
Internal and external alterations. New openings made on both facades, to verandahs on south timber wing and to rear courtyard.
Timber construction in western part of building and brick construction to the east. Corrugated iron roof.
21st October 2004
Report Written By
Auckland Public Libraries
Auckland Public Libraries
Photographs:Neg.1044, (circa 1857),
Neg.380 (early 1860s), Neg.244 (circa 1878), Neg.2694 (after 1883), Neg.780 (circa 1890),
Gordon McLauchlan, The Story of Beer: Beer and Brewing - A New Zealand History, Auckland, 1994
New Zealand Herald
New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.
1 January 1889, p.5
19 April 1856, p.3; 7 June 1856, p.3; 11 June 1856, p.3; and 15 April 1857, p.3
8 April 1859, p.3, 13 November 1868, p.3.
Auckland City Council
Auckland City Council
Rates Books 1878-1957, Auckland City Council Archives; 'Proposed Shops & Additions to Swan Hotel, Strand & Stanley Street, Auckland for Messrs Campbell & Ehrenfried Co.', plans approved 19 February 1909; '55 Parnell Rise, Auckland', plans dated 23 September 1912; 'Proposed Alterations to Strand Hotel, Parnell', plans dated 12 September 1962; 'Ground Floor Plan showing Proposed Alterations', plans dated 7 August 1973; 'Strand Hotel, Parnell, Nova-Grill', plans approved 19 August 1977.
A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region 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.