Monday, July 11, 2011

Coal Creek Gardens

Left: the gentleman standing proprietorially at the forefront of the photo is probably Mr E Nelson.

A few stories and advertisements about the Coal Creek Gardens in the Grey River Argus describes in interesting detail the sophisticated business plan of Mr E Nelson, the proprietor.  Leading up to Christmas in 1866, an advertorial extolled the virtues of the place:

In the way of pic-nics, Mr Nelson of the Coal Creek gardens has made great preparations, and from a recent visit we have paid to his gardens we can afford to award him great praise for his exertions to provide for the recreation of the citizens of Greymouth. He has cleared a huge enclosure as a playground, and opened up several pretty walks and arbors, where conveniences for pic-nic parties have been placed in the shape of forms and tables. Swings and other means of amusement are also provided, and no doubt Mr. Nelson will find his reward in extensive public patronage. Two "Art Unions" as they are termed, are also announced, which will afford an opportunity for those to choose to run the chance of drawing a rich prize.
Grey River Argus, Volume III, Issue 148, 22 December 1866, Page 2
On Christmas Day he catered for a community which probably  had little in the way of extended family with whom to celebrate the Christmas festival, and all were invited to participate in Christmas Sports:

CHRISTMAS SPORTS. COAL CREEK GARDENS. GRAND MUSICAL FETE. Al Fresco Ball on the Green Sward. Arbours, Grottoes, and Summerseats, for Pic Nics. Sylvan Shades for Romantic Lovers ! Swings for Children. THE ALLIANCE BAND. PROFESSOR SAMPSON, M C.  The Proprietor of the Coal Creek Gardens has provided the above for his Greymouth Friends during the Christmas Week, commencing THIS DAY, AT 2 O'CLOCK. As there is no charge for admission, visitors are requested not to destroy any of the plants or shrubs. Boats every five minutes. E. NELSON, Proprietor
Grey River Argus, Volume III, Issue 149, 25 December 1866, Page 3
 Before Christmas the following year, it would appear that a flood had damaged the gardens:

COAL CREEK GARDENS. The Proprietor begs to announce that having made good all the damage occasioned  by the late flood, these Beautiful Gardens are again open to the public for Pic-Nics, Tea Parties, &c, &c. Boquets and Vegetables| always ready. E NELSON.
Grey River Argus , Issue 304, 24 December 1867, Page 1
Again, floods occurred in January 1868:
Mr Nelson's gardens were flooded several feet deep, and all the families on the agricultural sections on the flat had to betake themselves to boats. Great loss has .been occasioned through the destruction of the growing crops of vegetables, and the out of potatoes.
Wellington Independent, 16 Kohitātea [January] 1868, Page 5

The following ad reveals that in addition to teas and picnics, the Gardens catered for more serious drinkers:
WANTED, a Female General Servant, and to assist in the bar occasionally. Apply Coal Creek Gardens.
Grey River Argus, Volume VI, Issue 391, 16 July 1868, Page 3
Levinski was able to turn the floods in Greymouth to advantage, when he advertised:
Flood. Flood.  Flood. PORTRAITS of the late Floods of the principal parts of the town can be had, highly finished, AT LEVINSKI'S PORTRAIT ROOMS, Boundary street ; or, J. BASCH, TOBACCONIST.
Grey River Argus, Volume VI, Issue 431, 17 October 1868, Page 3

THE CALEDONIAN SPORTS, Which were to have been held on Christmas Day  at COAL CREEK GARDENS, And which were put off, will now come off  On NEW YEAR' S DAY, And will be held with great eclat, as the Beautiful grounds will now be  in fine condition for them.  Grey River Argus, Volume VII, Issue 463, 1 January 1869, Page 3

By January 1870 it appears that Mr Nelson had departed and Charley Boase was the new proprietor:
RECREATION FOR ALL. Now that the Holidays are over, and that every one may have a chance of enjoyment, CHARLEY BOASE, Of the COAL CREEK GARDENS, Intends to give A GRAND PICNIC, On TUESDAY NEXT, the 11th INSTANT, To commence at 10 a.m. sharp. The Greymouth Brass Band will be in attendance for dancing parties, which will be conducted by an efficient M.C. Tickets, 3s each, the holders of which will be entitled to a free passage to and from the Gardens. Children under 10, accompanied by their parents, Free. Boats leave and arrive opposite Middleton's Wharf Hotel. Tickets to be had at the Steps. Grey River Argus, Volume IX, Issue 620, 8 January 1870, Page 3
I'm interested to see the references to music being performed at the Gardens.  Perhaps George Griffith, a musician, played there one or twice.  I'm not clear as to how far out of the main town centre the gardens were, but clearly far enough to warrant a boat trip.

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