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: 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 →

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 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 →

Havelock Street: a century ago

Have you ever come across an original story or poem written by a friend, relative or partner? If you answered yes to my question, then here’s a follow-up: were they embarrassed? Such things are usually closely guarded and private, so I consider myself lucky to be able to share a poem from the archives of... Continue Reading →

Early Ashburton History: Alex Hewson’s Stories

Alexander and Mary Hewson, no date. (Photo reference 01.1976.0413). In 1918, an early European settler by the name of Alexander Hewson published a series of reminiscences regarding the early days of the Ashburton District in the Ashburton Guardian newspaper. These included many interesting stories about the hardships and triumphs shared by the Europeans who settled... Continue Reading →

Gallery: Enterprising Ashburton businesses

The Ashburton District has had a long history of thriving businesses, of which there have been an impressive number and variety. Coachbuilders, factories, agents, retail stores, and many more enterprises, big and small, have played their role in supporting our local economy and communities. Let's take a look back at a selection of photographs of... Continue Reading →

Early Days of Ashburton Borough School

Ashburton Borough School was opened on 19 February, 1872, and was the first Government school in Ashburton. With an initial roll of 4 pupils, the school has since grown to accommodate 350 students this year, which is Ashburton Borough School's 150th jubilee. The story of Ashburton Borough School began at least 4 years earlier, in... Continue Reading →

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑