Jul 27 1972

Saddle Hill Hotel

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Saddle Hill Hotel
(9 miles from Dunedin)
Ewan McColl……..Proprietor
First class wines and spirits.
(N.B. Good stabling and paddock accommodation)
This was the advertisement in the Otago Witness in 1864.
Little is known about the early history of this hotel but it appears that Ewan M’Coll was killed in an accident when he was a young man. The next owner was James Purvis and an early photograph shows the building marked ‘James Purvis Hotel’, and on the Dunedin side there is an extension marked ‘Oats and Chaff’. There was no balcony or iron work but three sash windows upstairs and two windows and a centre door at ground level. Behind the hotel the large hump of Saddle Hill can be seen, with bush right down to the present Saddle Hill road.
By 1851 the route round Saddle Hill had been established as the main road to the south and by 1859 it was metalled as far as Taieri Ferry. On 12 January 1961 James McIntosh, Otago’s pioneer coachman set out from Dunedin to drive the mail coach for the first time as far as the Clutha Ferry.
Saddle Hill and Lookout Point were two of the trouble spots on the south road. Passengers had to walk up Saddle Hill and to steady the coach for the downward journey, a skid, fastened to a chain, was placedĀ  under the back wheel.
A passenger commenting on early coaching days writes ‘How Carmichael managed to get his four horse team safely round the exposed places on Lookout Point and Saddle Hill I cannot tell. I turned my head or shut my eyes while he, standing up with the whip and voice, urged them past danger.’
In the early days there was a small settlement further down the hill called The Junction where the road branches off across the Plain. Here in 1869 Sydney Turnbull opened a store and bakery and in his large brick ovens he continued to make bread for several years to supply his second store at the corner of Bush and Gordon Roads. There was a blacksmith, wheelwright and saddler and also Steadman’s Hotel which was a stopping place for coaches. Near here was the toll-house which for some years was in the charge of ‘Cheekie” McKenzie, who had an iron hook over an injured hand.
Mr R W Stevenson whose great grandfather Robert Stevenson came out in the Philip Laing has lived in the former Saddle Hill Hotel with his family since 1957. He has made it more comfortable inside and where he raised the back about three feet to brighten the kitchen he has matched the timber carefully with the skill of a craftsman. He is proud of his old hotel but although he has had all the materials for some time to repaint it he has been unable to do so. – “More Taieri Buildings” 1972 by Daphne Lemon.

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