Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 7, May 1967
By the late W.H.MOORE.
In the 1870's - 90's, Paeroa was a frontier town, and as such was naturally a base for accommodation, transport, provisioning and to a great extent for local district and mining government. Settlement at that time could be likened to the half of a carriage wheel with the hub portion representing Paeroa and the radiating spokes going out to be on Te Aroha, Waihi, Waitekauri, Owharoa, Karangahake, Kati Kati, Komata and Maratoto. All this area had to be serviced from Paeroa, mostly with provisions but also with a great deal of heavy machinery for the mines and batteries which were then opening up and this meant a great need for accommodation in Paeroa.
The original hotels of the 1870's were crude establishments, named the Ohinemuri, the Paeroa, the Commercial and Mrs Mahoney's Hotel. Except the Paeroa which was in Wharf Street, they all stood in Cassrel Street, then the main thoroughfare called after Mr Cassrels a very old identity.
His two sons received their engineering apprenticeship with me at George Frazer and Sons Engineering Works.
During the 1880 period there were further gold discoveries so population increased, and changes of course came to Paeroa. The present main street was not in existence at the time and from Wharf Street half way along to the corner of Thames Rd. was a small hill through which it was decided to cut a roadway to Wharf Street. This was to continue what is now Normanby Rd. For a start it was just a carriageway, pedestrians having to walk over rough paths on both sides of the hill. It was cut through in the horse-and-dray days, by an old and respected resident and contractor, Mr Paddy Trainer, some of whose descendants are still in Paeroa.
In 1895, the then Paeroa Hotel in Wharf Street was demolished. A new and up to date one was then built, licensed and renamed the Royal Mail by Mr George Crosby. It was on a corner of wharf and Belmont Rd. Mr and Mrs Crosby were two very loveable personalities. They endeared themselves to everyone and reared a nice family of 3 sons and 3 daughters. Mr Crosby also controlled the coaching stables connected with the Hotel.
In 1896 Mr Maurice Power decided to rebuild the old "Ohinemuri" on the opposite corner to where "Father's Hotel" now stands. Shifting the licence from the old Hotel, which was just at the back, was involved, but just as the Hotel was completed, so great was the Waihi boom that he again transferred the licence to Waihi. One Sunday morning at 2 a.m., I was awakened by the fire-bell clanging just outside my house, and found the whole town lit up. The old "Ohinemuri" was going up in flames. Later when prohibition was carried on 30th June 1908, the new ex-Ohinemuri Hotel burned to the ground at 10.30 p.m. (normal closing time was 11 p.m.)
In 1897 Mr Cassrels built a large and up-to-date Hotel on the triangle by the Te Aroha bridge and named it the Criterion, It was leased to Mr Edwin Bastings. Also in 1897 a large Hotel named the Paeroa was built on the corner of Corbett and Belmont Streets, the licence being held by Mr Delaney. After about two years it was burnt to the ground, but quickly rebuilt. At this tine Paeroa became an important Railway Junction, the Station being at the foot of the main street, so the owners decided to shift the Hotel to the position which it now occupies. The licence was transferred from Rotorua.
Mr Henry Wagstaff came to Paeroa in 1897 and established a brewery, which in 1899 he sold to my father J. Harry Moore who had as partners, Mr Joe Brenan and Walter Phillips. After a period of tine, the brewery was again sold to a Mr Cowan, when my father became licensee of the Commercial Hotel until prohibition was carried in 1908. (To be continued in Journal 8) [see Journal 8: Early Hotels in Paeroa Area - E].
The above article was sent to us by a grandson of the late Mr Moore who had typed it for him and in our next issue we shall include material sent by Miss Ivy Moore who is a true researcher on our behalf.
Our Contributor, Miss Lucy Rohan and her sister Dais live at the old homestead at Waikino while Gertrude has spent most of her life in Auckland. They have all given long service to education and have been most helpful to us.