‘What,’ some Steampunk enthusiasts are wont to ask, ‘would it be like to wander about in the old-time buildings of Hamilton?’ Don’t have to wonder – go and do it.
There is a goodly number of old-time photos in the library collection. The thing is, that’s a relative remark and it’s relative to your own age. I’m back to being ‘from the olden days’ with a five year old grandson. I don’t think the 1950s and 60s are the olden days but so many of my colleagues were not even born in the 50s or 60s. No, my ‘olden days’ are anything pre-war (meaning WWII) but particularly anything pre-automobile.
This photo is firmly rooted in the olden days. There is nothing in it to make me think of today. Oh, just a moment, yes there is – three buildings are still in Victoria Street but, who knows which they are? I shall tell you but first, if you have not seen or cannot remember my post ‘the original rental car company’ then can I suggest you have a look now at that photo? You see on the left of the Livery & Bait Stables a building under construction. That building is in this photo and the discovery of this photo in our collection is causing me to rethink the probable dates of the previous photo. That aside, what about the buildings still there in Victoria Street? Oh, this photograph also has some relationship to the previous photos of the sale yards and the horse bazaar in Ward Street.
On the left are maybe six or seven bovines. I don’t know what they are but I think young steers on the right and bullocks on the left. (Can anybody say?) In any event, the mess on the road says it all. The dark stuff in the foreground is not tufts grass; my bet is it’s manure and what a wonderfully aromatic occasion a perambulation would be that day. The chaps on the horses are fairly obviously the drovers and they are heading to the sale yards I think. Note too, the buggies on the rank awaiting hire. I don’t know the finer points that differentiate a surrey from a buggy from a landau – well not particularly but I would hazard there is at least one landau, one surrey – no fringe – and a couple of cabs.
The buildings? Yes, the buildings are still there and right in view in this photo. the Commercial Hotel is still there. This photo shows it not in its original state but with verandas and canopies added. In the late 1930s the timber cladding was stripped off and the building was bricked in a mildly art-deco manner – I emphasise ‘mildly’. To the left of the hotel is the single storey Cosy Corner. That is on the corner of Victoria St and Collingwood St where Wesley Chambers (aka Le Grande Hotel) stands. Cosy Corner is still there though – it didn’t go anywhere. The building was designed to hold at least another two floors and so it does. Wesley Chambers went atop the existing building. Next along from that is Alexandra Buildings (always plural even for one building) where we now find the wonderful Browsers Bookshop. The location may be better known to some folk for the camping and tramping shop.
Hamilton Central Libraries