The his­tory trail

The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - NORTH ISLAND -

Hamil­ton has just cel­e­brated its 150th year with a birth­day bash that in­cluded a mass Time Warp, led by Rocky Hor­ror’s Richard O’Brien. The hang­over con­tin­ues. While the city is young in in­ter­na­tional years, it has some well­p­re­served rem­nants of its past.

One of the old­est is Beale Cot­tage in Hamil­ton East, a tiny villa once oc­cu­pied by bril­liant but high-minded sur­geon Bernard Charles Beale, who was sacked for bad-mouthing his col­leagues. Bernard, who was elected mayor in 1880, fa­mously – and suc­cess­fully – sued a man for pulling his son’s ears at an elec­tion meet­ing. The cot­tage is re­ally small; one door­way is just 1.5 me­tres high and 40 cen­time­tres wide, which would have cramped the tow­er­ing medic. 11 Beale Street.

At the op­po­site end of the spec­trum is the ma­jes­tic Greenslade House on the banks of the Waikato River. This op­u­lent ex­am­ple of Ed­war­dian ar­chi­tec­ture has im­ported French roof tiles and pressed metal ceil­ings from Ger­many. The house with an oc­tag­o­nal tur­ret room is pri­vately owned and in mint con­di­tion. 1 Welling­ton Street.

In the sub­urb of Frank­ton, once the hub of New Zealand rail, there are ex­am­ples of rail­way houses, five-room English-style wooden cot­tages with cor­ru­gated iron roofs and out­side toi­lets. The Rail­way In­sti­tute Hall, where work­ers danced the night away to the Rail­way Orches­tra, is also well pre­served although on a dif­fer­ent site . A move to de­mol­ish it in the late 80s was thwarted by a dawn protest. 21 Weka Street.

A Hamil­ton his­tory tour should al­ways end in the for­mer Waikato Brew­ery build­ing (14 Bridge Street) where you can still buy beau­ti­ful ales plus great food in its re­con­sti­tuted form as Chim Choo Ree Restau­rant (see Some­where spe­cial to eat page 56).

The Hamil­ton His­toric Walk­ing Tour app can be down­loaded free from the App store or the Google Play.

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