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Celebrating Oamaru’s colonial heyday


Oamaru is about to undergo its annual metamorphosis, stepping back in time to the Victorian era. From 13 to 17 November, the town will celebrate its colonial heyday, with old fashioned entertainment, historical information and people promenading in period costumes.

 

 

 

A variety of events have been tailored to the 2019 theme of ‘Wheels’ – celebrating local cycle history, farming history and innovation – they vary from the ever-popular Crombie & Price Victorian Garden Party and Gentleman’s Relish to the formal Queen Victoria’s Birthday Ball.

The official grand opening on Thursday is followed by an evening of entertainment, with stories of the local suffrage movement and the importance of bicycles in women’s freedom. Throughout the celebrations, there are talks and tours exploring the history of Oamaru, machinery and the revolution of the bicycle.

It has been 25 years since the first Heritage Bicycle Championships, and Oamaru Ordinary Cycle Club is celebrating in style with New Zealand’s foremost heritage cycling event, attracting wheelmen and women from all around the globe. This will be another high-thrills afternoon, as riders participate in sprints, slaloms, relays, slow races, and the ghastly Tyne Street Grunter. With sections for both Penny Farthings and pre-10 speed safeties, it is spectacular for competitor and spectator alike.

On Saturday, join Dr Jane Malthus as she explores the history of bicycle wheels and dress reform in the late 19th century. For those who want to dress in Victorian costumes, there’s an astonishing array to choose from at the Victorian Wardrobe in Harbour Street.

For more information, visit www.vhc.co.nz.

 

 


 

Dot Smith

Her home, her castle: Q&A with Dot Smith


As a child, she dreamed of living in her very own castle. Some fifty plus years later, after decades of hard toil, Dot Smith, Queen of Riverstone Castle in Oamaru, finally realised that dream.

 

Dot Smith

 

 

When did you decide to fulfil your childhood dream of having your own castle?
The day I turned 60 – February 19, 2008. I thought if we were serious about building the castle, we’d better get started and I was right.

 

Who helped bring your castle to life?
Sarah Scott was my architect and, along with UK staff member Jenny, who knew loads about castles, we designed the castle from aspects of several different castles that I liked.

 

What difficulties did you face during the build?
Mainly rules and regulations. At the time of building, the law stated we could have five guests and build as a private house. As we’ve four ensuite rooms, I applied for eight guests. That put me into a hotel category. The fire-doors and regulations were extremely costly.

 

How did you overcome these obstacles?
Once the project was underway, there was no turning back. I worked with builder Mike Spier on every aspect, and was always there to watch progress and provide innovative ideas when problems arose.

 

Describe sleeping in your castle

We’ve a beautiful bedroom. At night we turn the main lights out and switch the star lights on. Watching the stars twinkling on our ceiling is pretty special. Very different from our farm cottage of 35 years.

 

Do you ever have ‘pinch me!’ moments?

Yes, with the changing moods of weather. On still nights, the sunsets reflect a mirror image of the lake. On misty mornings, the castle appears like a ghost through the mist. That’s when I think how lucky I am to look at such a beautiful building.

 

What landscaping remains to be completed?
A bridge is to be built across to the island, so that eventually the castle will stand alone, surrounded entirely by a lake.

 

What gives the Chatelaine of Riverstone Castle her happiest moments?
Showing visitors around the castle makes me very proud. People nowadays build open plan homes, whereas I love rooms that aren’t the same. Every room is different here – some traditional, some modern, some extravagantly decorated and some relaxing.

 

What’s your vision for the Castle and Riverstone 20-30 years from now?
Neil and I will be getting our telegram from the King! The castle’s been built to last hundreds of years, so I hope it will always be known as Granny Smith’s Castle.

Eventually it will become a guest B&B; that way we’ll meet interesting people who will hopefully keep us young.

The Riverstone complex grows every year. This year we have to do major renovations to bring the main shop up to fire and building regulations.

We will build a farm shop selling our own and other local farmers’ produce. The future of Riverstone is ever changing.

 

 

Dot Smith
Dot Smith