Great Storm of 1868: Refuge in “Arms” of Ashburton

Two years ago our District experienced the worst flooding in living memory, closely rivalled only by the April 1951 Canterbury flood event. Severe floods have occurred with moderate frequency in the past, including the February 1936 flood event, but these were not quite on this level in terms of sheer flow. On 28 May 2021,... Continue Reading →

Leonard Colville’s legacy

A few years ago, the Ashburton Museum acquired a large collection of photographs and personal records that belonged to Leonard (Len) Colville (1903-1987), a well-known Ashburton identity due to his varied hobbies and business interests. Len had strong links to early Ashburton through his father Alfred, who immigrated to New Zealand from England and arrived... Continue Reading →

Up Forest Creek Without a Chimney

Samuel Butler (1835 – 1902) was by no means a simple character. At the age of 24 he left his relatively cosy life in England behind and moved to New Zealand in order to increase his wealth through farming, and to get away from his Reverend father with whom he constantly argued. Samuel Butler did... Continue Reading →

The Somerset Hotel

Since the late 1800s, the same name has adorned each building that has occupied the corner of East and Burnett Streets on the northern side. Have you ever wondered how Somerset House, and the adjoining Somerset Grocer café got their unique names? It’s because the site was once home to the Somerset Hotel, built in... Continue Reading →

Gallery: ANZAC Day in Ashburton, 1917

As ANZAC Day 2023 approaches, our thoughts fall on those who have made sacrifices many people have never had to face. ANZAC Day was first observed on 25 April 1916, to commemorate the many soldiers who lost their lives at Gallipoli. Since then, the scope of our national day of remembrance has broadened and now... Continue Reading →

Gallery: The Ashburton Guards

With ANZAC Day 2023 fast approaching, let's take a look at some photographs and a little bit of the history of one of Ashburton's early organised military groups. The Ashburton Guards was formed as a result of a meeting held on the evening of 8 May 1885, during which the chairman of the committee, Mr.... Continue Reading →

Easter 1878: An unusual holiday

Stories about the Easter period from our town’s earliest daily newspaper The Evening Echo paint an interesting picture of what it was like to celebrate this centuries-old holiday in the late 1800s in New Zealand. Looking at holidays, and how they have been celebrated over the years, makes for an interesting subject of social history... Continue Reading →

Gallery: Chertsey Views

This selection of photographs from in and around the Chertsey township might spark some memories for some of you, or perhaps pique your curiosity as to this little township's varied past. Do you have fond memories of living in or growing up in Chertsey? Do you have ancestors who lived or farmed in the area?... Continue Reading →

History of Ashburton’s telephone exchanges

In a previous blog post we looked at how the telegraph network expanded into Ashburton, which changed the way many people communicated over long-distances. Newspapers, businesses and government bodies benefited greatly from the electric telegraph due to its ability to carry text-based messages at lightning speed between towns and cities. However, the telephone had one... Continue Reading →

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