THE HISTORIC HOTEL ROYAL
GRAHAMSTOWN,THAMES, NEW ZEALAND. 1904-2019
rebuilt on the site of the former Theatre Hotel Royal and Cafe C1864.
Your Host, researcher, photographer,author, Helena .G. Blomfield, I stumbled across this beautiful desolate building by sheer chance many years ago, this is my story on the Royal Hotel Grahamstown Thames New Zealand, join me on a fascinating journey down memory lane......
..........one day in 2000/2001 a friend and I took a trip to coastal THAMES, and while looking around Grahamstown which is quite historical, with its turn of the century quaint cottages and shops, we ventured into Williamson Street, and straight before us standing in isolated beauty, was a large turn of the century HOTEL! Wow we couldn't believe our eyes, it looked like something out of Rip van Winkle land, we were amazed at the neglect, and lack of obvious maintenance, surely it was a Historic Building?, it looked so very old to us, and also very dilapidated, rotten boards,roof ,with rusted out guttering, what little paint there was, hardly covering the weather worn boards beneath, what a crying shame.
we contacted the owner who lived on Waiheke Island and made plans to visit again and look over this derelict beauty. To cut a long story short, ( I have written a story re facts on what we saw re our first & following visits etc., & how this building reached out and touched ones heart..called a
Everything was much the same as it had been at least 50yrs ago, hand carved wooden handles? , but most fittings had been stripped over the years.. Kitchen bare,, no baths, basins, benches, cupboards, light fittings, a chimney in the far end of large kitchen for the coal range, long gone now. Only one grotty toilet, nil in the way of Edwardian fittings to be seen anywhere, only some kauri roses on the ceilings, nearly all the Edwardian fireplace iron registers and tiled surrounds had gone, leaving only the bare mantles. the Royal Hotel was down but not out!
There was a Kauri stair case leading up to the top floor, minus its newel post and the balustrade/screen at the top landing was also missing, one big stained glass window above the stairwell had vanished and was boarded up, with the roof above leaking like the proverbial sieve! New electrical wiring was being put in upstairs, plus a bit of white paint splattered here and there..
Squatters were in residence, with no electricity, cooking or working toilet facilities.....squatters were unfortunately a continuing blight over the years and it is amazing that there were no major fires ...not being up to Council resource residential standards no one should have been living there at all.
7 yrs later in Nov., 2008 it was up for sale once more, so its off to Thames again.....coming around the corner into Williamson Street, there is the Royal Hotel, looking much the same as she did 7 yrs ago. The blue flowering weed still under the front windows, someone is painting over the pink exterior boards, and painting inside and out..WHITE!!, some of the dark paneled wood, ceilings, firemantles. Now both stained glass windows were now gone, with the staircase newel post, the wooden fire escapes, plus one chimney top, and what do the resident ghosts think of it all? Would they welcome change, or would they rather the present atmosphere of faded decadence ? I looked online and could find nary a whisper of the ROYAL HOTEL. Oh you will find data on the JUNCTION ,SALUTATION, BRIAN BORU and other Thames hotels but you will not find anything about the gracious ROYAL HOTEL But if you are really interested in this elegant Edwardian Lady, go to GOOGLE MAPS, 103 Williamson St., Thames 3500, then Street view, great shots here taken about July/August 2008 going by the autumn leaves, she's still in her shabby 'pink mode', have a good look around, its fascinating!
There were plenty pubs/hotels in THAMES in those vibrant heady days of gold discovery. In the late 1800's nearly 20.000 people and 200 pubs, then it was down to 6 Hotels the end of an era, and the ROYAL HOTEL was one of the victims. I was just amazed to find out so much incredibly exciting history about this beautiful desolate seemingly forgotten building.
A & G PRICE FOUNDRY once owned the ROYAL HOTEL. They used it as storage and accommodation for their Polish workers. I was told by the gentleman who showed us over that it sold in 1991 for over one million dollars- phew! and that it was also used by the THAMES ELECTRICITY DEPT., for storage at some time.
The original Theatre Hotel Royal was built in 1869,and burnt down in July 1903, was rebuilt as the HOTEL ROYAL in 1904/1905. I found an amazing lot of vibrant exciting early history of THE ROYAL & THAMES in PAPERPAST. and the Thames District Council has very helpful with info re the old ROYAL HOTEL . The flood damage in Grahamstown c 1914 which caused most businesses to relocate to the SHORTLAND, spelt the death knell for Grahamstown and flooding has been an on going problem in the area. There was a state of Civil Emergency called in April 1981. Auda, a girlfriend of mine who was bar manager at that time said the flood water level in the LADY BOWEN was 6ft high. The ROYALHOTEL was also flooded ...a flood water level mark was/is visible on an outside wall, when we inspected it IN 2002. The flood insurance for the area of Thames, Paeroa and Waihi was a staggering $ 19.82 million..
This is my salute to a wonderful classic Edwardian building that clung desperately to the pages of Thames History. I have put this site up for all who are interested in our early colonial New Zealand History/buildings etc., too soon it is gone and forgotten, most children don't know how to make leaf tea in a teapot, it's teabags, how many know how to make butter,jam, pickles,scones? how many have seen the implements our Grandparents used before modern electrical gadgets? Quite a bit of the stuff I had never seen! I have a hand grinder that grinds wheat into flour, no supermakets in those days, this is saving our wonderful PAST!
Now let me tell you a story of the rip roaring early days of gold mining in
THAMES NEW ZEALAND, and the story of a beautiful Edwardian Hotel slumbering,neglected & forgotten, a piece of historical flotsam caught in the leaves of history....
the HOTEL ROYAL, built in c1904...original building 1864.
This site was last updated: October 31, 2020
CHECK OUT MY OTHER WEBSITES.
2012/2014 :THE HOTEL ROYAL now has new owners and another era begins
for this lovely Historical building.........
Here I would like to say a big thank you to Jimmy Pattillo who graciously gave me the run of the atmospheric Royal Hotel (2008/2010 ) to roam and take photos for prosperity at will, thanks to Jimmy I have some great images of the old Hotel before she will be changed forever...(.mostly mood and atmosphere images), thanks Jimmy.
BLOMYLE/BLOMFIELD FAMILY COAT OF ARMSd text.
THE HISTORIC EDWARDIAN HUTCH ROYAL HOTEL GRAHAMSTOWN THAMES NEW ZEALAND 1908
PKINDLY NOTE' -ALL MY PRIVATE PHOTOS OF HOTEL ROYAL INTERIOR/EXTERIOR/ANTIQUES/ETC.,/ ARE COPYRIGHT TO ME H.G.BLOMFIELD-LOBET, AND/OR JIMMY PATELLO/PHIL SAYER/REG BLOMFIELD/PAUL SAYER....2018
For James Lobet's Birthday we made a trip down memory lane to see our favorite building in Thames, which now appears to be a boarding house?
a very kind gentleman ( resident) took ths photo of our visit. outside the main front doors..thank you kind sir....................2015