Historical Significance or Value
Black Horse Brewery Site has special historical significance as one of the most important provincial breweries in Otago and Southland, and one dating from the gold rush period of Otago’s history, and represents one of the significant early businesses from this time. The brewery grew to be one of the most important in provincial Otago under the leadership of James Kerr Simpson and Benjamin Hart. The subsequent history of acquisition by New Zealand Breweries Ltd and the closure of the brewery is also a representative story, with the amalgamation of the brewing industry into a few key companies in the twentieth century.
In the late 1800s and until the mid-twentieth century the scenic location encouraged the site’s association with the spring daffodil showing. The picturesque surroundings encouraged visitors to admire the extensive daffodil plantings, which were picked to fundraise for the war effort and for charitable agencies, particularly Barnardos and the Plunket Society.
Aesthetic Significance or Value
The Black Horse Brewery has aesthetic significance. As a ruin set in a wilding garden setting the site has a visual charm. The twenty five acres of daffodil fields have long been a public attraction in the spring, when the woodlands and fields are an abundant and vivid display.
Archaeological Significance or Value
The Black Horse Brewery Site has special archaeological significance. The site dates from the 1860s, the goldfields period of Wetherston’s history. The brewery operated on the site until 1923. The Black Horse Brewery complex is of special significance nationally as a largely intact example of an early brewery site, occupied from the mid-1860s, complete with malt-house, brewery, water race, water tank, and associated residence and gardens. The remains are largely archaeological in nature and provide insight into the working system of the brewery and the associated residential occupation, including historic plantings and gardens.
Scientific Significance or Value
The Black Horse Brewery Site has special scientific value as a daffodil planting dating from 1895, and now covering over 25 acres. The value of the planting is recognised by the New Zealand Daffodil Society which has awarded a citation of recognition for the work the Hart’s Daffodil Charitable Trust have done. As a daffodil breeder, Hart’s plantings represent many named and unnamed varieties from the period 1900-1914, which are of scientific interest to daffodil breeders in 2012.
Social Significance or Value
Brewing is one of New Zealand's earliest industries and one that is closely linked to the development of the social behaviour of New Zealanders. For many decades, in a male-dominated society, beer consumption formed the basis of leisure activity. The production of alcohol continues to be a significant industry and has played a significant role in New Zealand's history. Black Horse Brewery Site was a landmark at Wetherstons and, as well as being an important local employer, became a focal point for other community activities. The Brewery Site continues to reflect the brewing culture of nineteenth and early twentieth century New Zealand, as a historic attraction.
The daffodil plantings have social significance having been used for fundraising for social causes such as Barnardos and Plunket in the early years of the twentieth century. In addition, during World War One daffodils were picked to support patriotic causes.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
The Black Horse Brewery Site represents the first line of businesses established in Wetherstons, one of the early towns which sprung up during the Otago gold rushes of the early 1860s. The history of Black Horse Brewery is one of growth into the most significant provincial brewery in Otago and Southland, until it was bought up by New Zealand Breweries and closed down. This history of closure and later demolition is also typical of many brewery sites. The location of the archaeological remains of the brewery in this quiet rural backwater has meant that the site has not been redeveloped and continues to tell the story of a nineteenth century brewery.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
The Black Horse Brewery Site is associated with the goldrush period of Otago’s history, an event which redefined Otago’s history. The history of Black Horse Brewery reflects the experience of many Otago towns which, like Wetherstons, boomed and then faded.
The Black Horse Brewery Site is associated with several figures of significance in the history of the Tuapeka area. Horace Basting’s was Lawrence’s first mayor and a prominent businessman. James Kerr Simpson was also an important local body politician and businessman. Benjamin Hart was a well-known figure and played a philanthropic role in Catholic circles, providing support for Catholic education and for the Santa Sabina convent in Dunedin.
(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history
The Black Horse Brewery Site has the potential through archaeological methods to reveal more about the early brewing industry, the site being occupied from the mid-1860s until 1923, and largely unused since that time. The Black Horse Brewery site has the potential to show the working system of a nineteenth and early twentieth century brewery, reflecting over sixty years in operation.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place
The local community has supported the Harts Daffodils Charitable Trust in their efforts to provide access to the Black Hart’s Brewery Site, and a grant was received from the Community Trust of Otago towards the Trust’s efforts. In addition the site is part of the Lawrence goldfields trail, linking with Gabriel’s Gully. The long history of community fundraising through daffodil picking has been revived, with local groups benefitting from flower sales.
(f) The potential of the place for public education
Black Horse Brewery Site, managed by the Hart’s Daffodils Charitable Trust, is putting together interpretation for the site. In addition they have forged links with the school and education community who visit the site for learning outside the classroom activities.
(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement
The brewery operations on this site date from the mid-1860s, in the first years of European settlement in this area at the start of the gold rush period of Otago’s history, as such they date from an early period of European settlement in Otago.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape
The Black Horse Brewery Site is one of the remnants of the once bustling mining town of Wetherstons. As mining declined so did the settlement and now a scattering of buildings and archaeological sites remain which form the historical landscape of Wetherstons.
Summary of Significance or Values
Black Horse Brewery Site, an archaeological complex of structures relating to the operation of the brewery from the mid-1860s until its closure in 1923, is a special survivor from goldfield’s Otago which shows the working system of a nineteenth century brewery. It is of special archaeological significance for its potential to reveal more about a nineteenth century brewery through archaeological methods. The 25 acre record of daffodil species, originating in the planting by the Hart family daffodil breeders of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is still a scenic attraction in the spring.
Tuapeka, the name applied to the wider Clutha District around the Tuapeka River is a shortened form of Te-huapeka (‘the fruitful branch’), though there seems to be some debate. One authority says it should be ‘Tuakipeta’ meaning cut down a branch of a tree for firewood. While Kai Tahu whanui knew the richness for mahika kai and had an intimate knowledge of the area and its Ara Tawhito (trails), land sales alienated this resource from Kai Tahu. Pastoralism and then gold drew a settled European population to the region. The gold miners at Wetherstons came in the wake of those at Gabriel’s Gully which started the rush to the Otago goldfields in May 1861.
Gold mining was thirsty work and throughout Otago breweries were built to supply the ubiquitous hotels. Brewing is one of New Zealand's oldest industries, established in response to strong local demand from the time of earliest European settlement. The main functional areas of a brewery are the malt house, where barley is germinated; the malt kiln, used to dry the barley and develop malt, and the brew-house, in the form of a tower, where fermentation takes place in vats. The primary requirement for a brewery site was proximity to good quality water. Spring water was preferred, as stream water had to be filtered through a bed of charcoal, sand and chalk.
As early as 1863 beer was brewed in Henry Coverlid’s shaving saloon at Wetherstons. In 1865 the Tuapeka Recorder advertised ‘Wetherstones Brewery’. In December 1865 Coverlid was described as a managing partner in Wetherstones Brewing Co., and that ‘an extensive building, together with the most improved brewing appliances, are in the course of erection, and are expected to be in working order within two weeks.
Work may have been delayed, because in March 1866 Coverlid’s London Brewery was still under construction – a two storey, wood and stone building located at the mouth of Bluejacket Gully. A plan from 1865 shows the site with two houses, the brewery and garden. A soda water and ginger beer factory was built alongside the factory. The water supply came from a race which ran along the top of Bluejacket Gully.
In March 1869 the brewery was sold in a mortgagee sale. The sale was reported in the Tuapeka Times, where the ‘large and convenient premises’ would provide a ‘first class opportunity for some practical brewer possessed of a moderate capital.’ The new owners Bastings and Kofoed (who had leased the premises in early 1868) set about expanding their newly branded ‘Black Horse Brewery.’ Bastings and Kofoed applied to the Otago Provincial Government to buy the freehold, but were at first refused as the land was part of a mining reserve; title was granted in 1869.
Horace Bastings was the first mayor of the Tuapeka area, elected in 1866. He sat on the Otago Provincial Council and was later the Member of the House of Representatives for Waikaia electorate in 1875. London born, he followed the call of gold, first to Victoria, Australia, and in 1862, to Otago. He brought brewer Johannes Kofoed over from Victoria, Australia, and they entered into business together. Bastings went on to own the Commercial Hotel and Stables in Lawrence and the South Island interest in Cobb and Co., among other businesses.
Bastings and Kofoed called for tenders for the erection of a ‘new brewery’, accepting a tender of £500 in April 1869. The new brewery was separate from the existing premises (which continued to be used for washing casks). The ‘substantial brick and stone building’ was well underway by August. The brewery was in production by September – the 80 feet by 30 feet (24 by 9 metres) building had cellarage on the ground floor, with windows to regulate the temperature, the second floor was the bottling plant, fermenting room, cooling room and store for the malt. The brick and stone work was completed by David Whittit, while Mr Aimers was in charge of the carpentry.
The first brew was celebrated in November 1869. The news that beer was to be had travelled via the bellman who invited ‘all and sundry to partake of it free of charge.’ A general rush, worthy of a gold mining area, took place, where ‘a vast cauldron filled with the refreshing drink was drained to the bottom by the crowd, who were allowed to assist themselves.’ The crowd, unsurprisingly, ‘afterwards showed signs of great animation.’
Black Horse Brewery’s beer was so well received that Bastings and Kofoed decided to build a malt house and kiln, advertising for tenders in February 1874. The Malt House was a separate structure from the Brewery. The lower walls were stone, the upper brick, with a shingle roof. The floor was concrete. The structure was 42 feet by 26 feet (13 metres by 8 metres). Alexander Humphrey won the tender.
Black Horse Brewery was described as ‘one of the largest and best-arranged concerns of the sort out of Dunedin, while none there possess by a considerable degree, the same conveniences for effectually and economically carrying on the business of a brewery.’ The entire complex covered over an acre – which included along with the brewery, malt house and kiln, a cooperage, and washing house, office, water race and tank, and men’s huts. A 90 acre (36 hectare) paddock provided depasturing for the carthorses. The machinery was water powered.
Black Horse Brewery used locally grown barley, encouraging farmers to grow barley, which became an important element in the local economy. Barley was produced by James Smith at Greenfield Station, who supplied 2000 bushels for the brewery.
The Bastings-Kofoed partnership was dissolved in July 1874, with William Hayes purchasing Bastings’ share. Bluejacket Gully (48 acres, 19 hectares) was purchased by Koefed and Hayes in June 1875, and the two established Black Horse Gold Mining Co. Ltd. Both companies were in financial trouble by the close of the 1870s. In July 1879 Kofoed was declared insolvent, Hayes meeting the same fate soon after. Kofoed moved to Milton and started another Black Horse Brewery with new business partner. The mortgage holder forced the sale of the brewery. Purchaser Henry Clayton took on James Kerr Simpson as brewer. The business was such a success that the plant was overhauled and a bottling plant erected beside the brewery.
In 1884 the brewery was leased, and in 1886, sold, to James Kerr Simpson and Benjamin Hart. Simpson and Hart held the title as tenants in common until transferring it to their company Simpson and Hart Limited in 1909. Black Horse Brewery became one of the ‘most successful of all the provincial breweries’, selling beer from Timaru to Bluff and all over the goldfields. The peak output (in the mid-1880s) was 5000-6000 gallons a week (the largest production of the provincial breweries).
Tasmanian-born Benjamin Hart followed the call of gold first to Victoria, Australia, and in 1862, to Wetherstons, where he settled and began mining. He was prominent in mining matters particularly the dredging boom where he managed a number of successful dredging companies. He was a generous benefactor to the Catholic Community, gifting the land for the Dominican convent at Pine Hill in Dunedin. The family donated an altar for the Teschemakers convent in North Otago in honour of their parents. His sons worked at the brewery, Henry as a commercial traveller and Albert as cooper making the wooden barrels to hold the beer.
James Simpson was a Scotsman who emigrated with his parents. He learnt the brewing trade at the Water of Leith Brewery in Dunedin, before going into business with Hart. He was a local body politician and a champion of the underdog, identifying strongly with the mining community. He was County Chairman for a time, and mayor, from 1923 to 1935.
Some of the effervescence was taken out of the brewing trade by the prohibition movement. In 1894 the Clutha District went dry and stayed that way until the 1950s. The Black Horse Brewery continued to operate, though Wetherstons itself entered a decline. Some locals lamented the loss of the sociability of hotels as community meeting places: ‘There is not even the chance of drinking to the health of her Majesty, as our only publican has not taken out a license at this time. There was a time when Wetherstones had over a dozen hotels, and the township was the centre of the district….But we can’t sport one hotel. Our prohibition friends will likely say it’s a good thing too but the majority of people will say it is a pity that the old times are past.’
Benjamin Hart had other interests though. Daffodils became a family passion. Hart developed the gardens and grounds in the late nineteenth century, planting hops, daffodils and rhododendrons and other exotics around the homestead built c.1900-1914. Daffodils included varieties that cost as much as £100 a bulb. Ten to fifteen acres of daffodils were planted with the help of brewery workers. Hart had over 150 varieties by 1901. Four Hart family daffodil varieties are registered in the International Daffodil Register. The daffodils naturalised and became a local attraction, as turning an ‘unsightly hillside’ into a ‘paradise of colour and perfume.’ Benjamin Hart is credited with beginning fundraising based on daffodils, supporting community causes through his plantings. Henry Hart was a top daffodil grower. Henry’s brother Albert Hart’s sale catalogue of daffodil bulbs from 1918-19, lists 40 varieties grown in Lawrence.
In 1909 the brewery’s name was changed to the Tuapeka Brewery. Brewing continued until October 1923 when New Zealand Breweries purchased the brewing rights and the brewery was closed down, with all staff offered employment at Speights Brewery in Dunedin, a fate of many breweries.
During World War One daffodils were picked and sent to Dunedin to raise money for the Patriotic Fund. By the 1930s train excursions would come from Dunedin in spring to view the daffodils, with over 1,500 visitors in 1937. School children would visit to pick the flowers to sell for charity, particularly the Dr Barnardo’s Homes and the Plunket Society.
Simpson and Hart Limited transferred the property to members of the Hart family in 1939. The brewery buildings were partially demolished in the 1940s.
A certificate of recognition was awarded to the Hart’s Daffodil Charitable Trust in April 2011 by the National Daffodil Society of New Zealand for their work in the restoring the site from gorse-covered hillside to open daffodil fields, and promoting and preserving of daffodils. The citation recognises the ‘virtual gold mine of veteran daffodils as well as varieties which have self-seeded.’
In 2012 the brewery site is still in the family, with the Hart’s Daffodil Charitable Trust overseeing the care and development of the site. The Black Horse Brewery Site remains a special historic attraction and brings visitors to view the spectacular daffodil display in spring.
The Black Horse Brewery Site (Former) is located on the outskirts of the small settlement of Wetherstons, three kilometres from Lawrence in the Clutha district of Otago. This settlement was, during the nineteenth century a bustling town built up around the gold-bearing land nearby. In 2012 there remains a cluster of buildings and many archaeological remnants which recall the heyday of the town. To the north is the Glen Dhu Forest and Phoenix Dam.
The Black Horse Brewery Site is to the north-east of the town site, nestled in Bluejacket Gully, through which runs a tributary of Wetherstons Creek.
The former Brewery Site has several distinct areas: The cluster of remnant structures associated with the brewery; the buildings associated with the Hart residence, the gardens and tree plantings and the wider daffodil fields.
The remnant structures associated with the brewery are the office, brewing plant, malting plant and water tank. A water race provided water for the brewery and house. An archaeological survey is needed to identify the full extent of the remains of the site associated with the development of the brewery and associated residential and administrative structures from the mid-1860s until 1923. What follows is a brief summary of the known features.
The malting plant is the most prominent structure. The malting plant was originally a two-storey structure with a stone lower level, with brick facings on the window and door openings, and a brick upper level. The malt kiln was located at the eastern end of the plant. The building outline, concrete floor, a section of the exterior wall and the base of the malt kiln, including vaulted sections remain. The remaining features provide an illustration of the malting process.
The brewing plant foundations and some standing structural elements remain. The water tank for the brewery is located on the hillside behind the brewing plant. The water supply was a crucial element of the brewing process. The water race is still visible on the hillside.
The house, a modest timber villa, is located on a rise directly behind the ruins of the malting plant. It is in a dilapidated condition. Next to the house are two small outbuildings which housed the bathroom (complete with bath) and outhouse. The house was occupied by Eva Hart until the 1960s. In the 1990s the unoccupied property was damaged by vandals.
The office is a one-room single-gable timber building, rectangular in plan located close to entrance of the brewery site. The concrete foundations of another structure remain immediately to the south.
The garden is located to the south of the malting plant. It consists of mature rhododendrons, hawthorne, and other exotic plantings. Heritage plant species include aconite, hops, fritillaries, bluebells and hellebores, among others. Significant trees include those planted for the first Arbour Day in 1892.
The daffodil fields are located on the open hillside on two sides of the brewery site. The daffodils cover 25 acres and include uncounted varieties.
Other brewery related structures on the NZHPT Register of historic places, historic areas, wahi tapu and wahi tapu areas are the Brew Tower at Mangatainoka (Register no. 3961, Category 1), dating from 1931, built for Tui Brewery Ltd, part of Tui Breweries which started in 1889. This is a seven storey brick tower designed by Gummer and Ford, designed in Stripped Classical style. The former Thordon Brewery Tower (Register no. 4426, Category 1) was built in 1915 in Edwardian Free Style, designed by architect William Turnbull, and forms part of a New Zealand Breweries complex, many of the buildings of which have been demolished. Neither of these relate to mid-nineteenth century structures.
Comparable in period is Ward’s Brewery Historic Area (Register no. 7512), which was established on its current site in 1860. It was a complex of buildings including a malt-house, brewing tower and other related structures which formed the largest and most important group of industrial buildings in Christchurch from that era. Some of the structures were damaged in the series of earthquakes in Canterbury in 2010-2011 and have been demolished. The remaining structures include most significantly the malt kiln, a warehouse, a 1950s concrete block building and Pomeroy’s Inn. Also in Christchurch is the City Malthouse (now Canterbury Children’s Theatre) (Category 2, Register no. 1902), a former malthouse which provided malt for the mile distant City Brewery in the 1860s.
On the NZAA Site Recording Scheme, there are 12 recorded brewery sites – these include two in Fiordland (one related to Cook’s landing there, the other a distillery making cabbage tree rum); three in Dunedin – large nineteenth century operations, including Speights Brewery; one in New Plymouth; malthouses in Blenheim and Whanganui/Wanganui; and two related sites in Tauranga.
Frank Leckie’s book Otago’s Breweries Past & Present provides a comprehensive survey of breweries in the region. There were 28 brewery sites in Dunedin alone, dating from 1856 onwards. Dunedin was New Zealand’s brewery capital by 1880, brewing over one third of the total quantity of beer produced in New Zealand. Some were short lived and left little trace, others were large operations, and have left remnant structures – Wellpark Brewery (dating from 1862, NZAA I44/380), and Water of Leith Brewery (NZAA I44/382), of which the malt kiln remains. Neither of these brewery sites is registered. The most prominent and well known is the Speight’s Brewery (NZAA I44/233), established on its current site in 1876, and still operating as the Speight’s Branch of New Zealand Breweries.
In the provinces there were breweries in all the small centres – Alexandra, Balclutha, Clyde, Cromwell, Queenstown, Naseby, Lawrence, Oamaru and Waikouaiti. Breweries were among the early industries established in all these settlements, illustrating their importance to the community. Some were short lived, others were more lasting; the Swan Brewery in Cromwell operated from 1872 to 1908, the Milton Brewery (under various names) from 1862 to 1906. The Black Horse Brewery in Wetherstons was one of the most prominent and long lasting, and recalls the gold rush heyday of this settlement. It was the only provincial brewery to distribute outside its local district. There has been no systematic survey of what remains of these brewery structures, though Otago Regional Archaeologist Dr Matthew Schmidt could not recall any complexes such as this surviving in the Otago goldfields area, making it a special survivor from that period.
Other breweries survive from the 1860s including Greymouth Brewery (now Monteiths, but known previously as the Phoenix Brewery, though continued development to adapt to modern brewing practices has led to the demolition of original structures. The Domain Brewery site (later Lion Brewery) in Newmarket in Auckland is also one on which brewing continued from 1880s onward.
The Black Horse Brewery Site has special significance as the site of an 1860s brewery, dating from the early gold mining period in Wetherstons’ history. The site has the potential to reveal more information on the operation of the brewery, and of the residential occupation of the site. The daffodil plantings are over 110 years old and are an important horticultural site.
London Brewery erected
Tenders for new brewery building and associated structures
Malt House completed
First Arbor Day – 60 trees planted at Wetherston’s including on the brewery site
1900 - 1914
Hart residence built
Demolished - Other
1940 - 1949
Brewery buildings partially demolished
Concrete, stone, timber, brick.
7th November 2012
Report Written By
2 Oct 1929, p.10.
Daphne Lemon, Stars in Orion, Tuapeka then and now, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1979
Otago Daily Times
Otago Daily Times
17 Apr 1869, p.2.; 15 Nov 1869, p.2.; 2 Jul 1879, p.3.
27 Mar 1869, p.14.; 24 Jun 1897, p.25.; 14 Aug 1901, p.10.
4 Sep 1869, p.3.; 11 Feb 1874, p.2.; 25 Feb 1874, p.2.; 29 Apr 1874, p.2; 1 Jul 1874, p.2.; 15 May 1875, p.5.; 14 Apr 1875, p.2; 19 Jan 1876, p.5.; 12 Jun 1886, p.3.
New Zealand Railway Observer
New Zealand Railway Observer
W.J. Cowan, ‘The 1937 Lawrence Daffodil Excursion’, Spring 1988, pp.94-95.
14 Apr 1869, p.4.; 5 Jun 1874, p.6.; 14 Jan 1881, p.3.
Frank Leckie, Otago’s Breweries Past and Present, Otago Heritage Books, Dunedin, 1997
Royal Horticultural Society
Royal Horticultural Society
The Daffodil Year Book 1914, pp.37-40; pp. 81- 84
A fully referenced registration report is available from the Otago/Southland 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.