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 →

Alex Hewson’s journey from Lyttelton to the Rangitata

Early Days in the Ashburton County by Alexander Hewson was first published as a series of reminisces in the Ashburton Guardian in 1918, which were combined into a booklet later that year. In 1996, Hewson’s booklet was re-published by the Ashburton Museum and Historical Society, and it is a personal favourite of mine among several... 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 →

Early Urban Ashburton

Ashburton as we know it has been constantly evolving ever since the construction of William Turton’s first accommodation house along the Hakatere Ashburton River in 1858. Rural has become urban, paddocks have become suburbs and buildings have been built, moved, modified and demolished. Postcard image showing early view of Ashburton west side, looking along Cameron... Continue Reading →

Early Rakaia history digitised

Between 1899 and 1922, a professional photographer by the name of Harry Alexander Palmer took a variety of interesting photos around Rakaia and the surrounding area. The Ashburton Museum acquired a number of these photographic negatives several years ago, in the form of glass plates. This image shows an ornate mantle with the background scratched... Continue Reading →

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