Monday, September 4, 2017

Thames (NZ): Then & Now BNZ Corner Grahamstown

While the intersection of Albert and Brown Streets, Thames is commonly known as 'Scrip Corner', it is remorse not to remember the grand landmark that graced the north-eastern side of the roads.
Many people often ask why was the grand Bank of New Zealand building destroyed?

Background from Lost Landmarks of Thames (by A Barker & D Wilton):

"Banks were soon established at The Thames when the goldfield opened. This included the Bank of Zealand (1868), Bank of New South Wales (1868), National Bank of New Zealand (1873), and Australia and New Zealand Bank Ltd (1877).

The Bank of New Zealand first opened February 1868 in the town of Shortland, Thames. The Manager was Mr H F Christie and it was described as a three-room wooden building in Pollen Street. This Shortland agency was closed 1st April 1871.  As more gold was discovered the area of Grahamstown became an important business area and the bank opened a branch there on 13th February 1869. Around April 1870 the Grahamstown branch moved into a grand new building on the corner of Brown and Albert Street. The bank had a gold office and assay room.

As things declined economically in Thames, the Bank of New Zealand moved back to the Shortland area of Pollen Street, to the corner of Sealey and Pollen Street; where they still operate today. Early managers of the bank were: H F Christie (1868), T L Murray (1869-1893), W Burton (1893-94), and A Smith (1894-1907)."

Then & Now: The photo below allows us to see the old bank once more, proudly standing where now a house and old hall are located. On the left the old Wharf (aka Park and Lady Bowen) Hotel. In the distance the old Royal Hotel and the old Lady Bowen Hotel on the centre right.

The Bank building was demolished in the late 1920s, when it was no longer required. The construction in some ways just a two sided facade, and the material used was soft and by then in poor, crumbling condition. 

Now a Lion's Heritage sign marks the site of the once important 'Bank of New Zealand.'