Perry’s Occidental Hotel

9:01. Collins’ Family Hotel.

            James Collins was born in England in 1820. He married Selena Goddard, of the Channel Island of Guernsey, and the couple emigrated to New Zealand aboard the “Bangalore”, arriving in Lyttelton on 31st August 1851 (MacC478). Collins was described on the shipping list as a Gentleman’s Servant and shortly after their arrival the couple secured positions as servants with Mr. H I Tancred. In 1856 the Canterbury Club was formed in what would one day become the Gladstone Hotel (and later still the Durham Arms Tavern) in the house of George Woodman (se Chapter 6. The Durham Arms). Mr. Woodman served as Steward to the Club for the first couple of years of its existence, but proved unpopular with the gentlemen members. He resigned amid some acrimony and his position was taken by James Collins, with Mrs Collins acting as Housekeeper. Mr. Woodman’s house proved unsatisfactory as long-term premises for the Club and a new home was sought. Accordingly, land on the corner of Latimer Square and Worcester Street was purchased, handsome new premises were built and the Club moved in by May of 1862.

            Mr. Collins could smell an opportunity. The Christchurch Club was a Gentlemen’s Club and membership and use of the facilities were restricted to the gentlemen members, but members brought their wives and families with them when they came to town and these folk also required lodgings of a standard at least equal to that enjoyed by their menfolk. A boarding house handy to the Club and catering to the needs of the wives and families of members could potentially be a very profitable little enterprise. On further reflection, however, why should Mr. Collins stop at a mere boarding house? Why not take advantage of the profitability of the liquor trade and open an Hotel.

            Using his inside knowledge of forthcoming events, Mr. Collins made arrangements with landowner Mr. Samuel Bealey and a small, two storey hotel was built at 190 Hereford Street, a mere hundred yards or so from the proposed site of the new Club buildings. In May of 1861 Mr. Collins was granted a wine and beer license for his new premises, and everything was ready for the accommodation of the incoming gentry. This establishment was opened as the Family Hotel and Boarding House, but very quickly became universally known as Collins’ Hotel and Boarding House and then simply as Collins’ Hotel. A full Hotel license was granted in 1864 and over the next few years James and Selena Collins, “a woman of strong character and a sharp tongue’ (MacC478-2), worked hard to build up a reputable business with considerable success.

The original house rapidly proved too small for Mr. Collins’ custom and it was not too long before extensions were required. He consulted with architect Samuel Charles Farr with the result that Messrs Farr and Cuff drew up plans, and tenders for the extended building were called on  17th August 1864 and shortly thereafter work began. The original building was extended to almost its present length and an accommodation wing was added at the rear in brick. “Extensive improvements” were made to the property and “commodious accommodation added in perfect order” to the extent that, in the opinion of Inspector of Police Mr. Pender in 1865, the establishment was “inferior to none in the Province” (Lyttelton Times 6th April 1865, p5). Collins’ Family Hotel and Boarding House of Latimer Square, Christchurch, with its “good stabling with loose boxes and convenient paddocks” was a superior establishment from the very beginning.

            The land on which the hotel was built was part of the estate of Samuel Bealey, and the freehold of the property was purchased by a certain Hyman Marks in September of 1885. Mr. Marks died on May 22nd 1895, and the property passed by bequest to Messrs Alexander Ferguson, a bank manager, and Charles Louisson, a brewer, both of Christchurch. The first building was a two storey wooden construction with seven sets of wooden posts supporting ground and first floor verandahs. It formed what is now the eastern part of the building, extending from the western side of the main entrance door to the western side of the walled-in portion of the easternmost end of the verandah. A photograph of that time taken from Worcester Street shows only the newly completed Christchurch Club and the relatively diminutive Hotel set in a vast expanse of tussock that was relieved only by a few rough wooden fences. There were no trees then and Latimer Square was a rather bleak-looking place.

The extensions and refurbishments of 1864, however, gave a very grand air to the hotel and made it into the most substantial public house of its time. It is possible that the distinctive iron lacework of the hotel dates from this time, and was an embellishment to the fancy of Mr. Farr. Earlier in 1864, Mr. Farr had designed a house for a C W Turner near Merivale, which residence also incorporated the iron lacework on a double-storeyed verandah. This may have been a stylistic phase that the architect was going through at the time.

            In the somewhat grandiloquent language of the time, Mr. Collins advised that “Visitors from the country will find it a most desirable residence. The apartments are all roomy, well aired, and the situation is one of the healthiest and most pleasant in Christchurch” (Press, January 1865). He also announced  that “The livery stables will be under the immediate superintendence of the proprietor, and the utmost care will be bestowed on all horses and vehicles putting up there. The best description of horse feed will be liberally supplied at a moderate rate” (Ibid).

On 10th June 1868, Mr. Collins announced his intention to retire from the trade (although he would retain control of the adjacent stables), and the license was transferred to Mr. Charles Green. Mr. Green had been a mess steward in the Royal Navy and arrived in New Zealand with his wife in 1860 to begin a new life in the hospitality industry. His first venture was Green’s Chop House which opened in July of 1861 with a wine and beer license (MacG381), he sold the business in March of the following year. The Greens joined Mr. J P Oakes at the Golden Fleece, where they looked after the catering, then moved to Mr. C H Smith’s Lyttelton Hotel (later the Clarendon) in January of 1863. Their sojourn at the Lyttelton lasted a mere three months, and they were then off to take the Royal Hotel in Timaru.

By June of 1868 the couple were back in Christchurch and Mr. Green took the license of Collins’ Hotel. He announced pontifically in the Lyttelton Times (Lyttelton Times 10th June 1868) that he “begs to acquaint the public and visitors to the Province that he has taken Collins’ Hotel, Christchurch, and hopes by attention to the comfort of his patrons, to merit the support so liberally bestowed upon his predecessor. The Hotel will be found replete with every comfort and convenience. Private rooms for families, breakfast, dinners, suppers, etc., for private parties provided at the shortest notice.” What went wrong is open to conjecture, but go wrong it did and it is possible that either Mr. Green or his wife, or both, were difficult people to work with (MacG381), which would account for their long list of short term positions. Whatever their reasons, the Greens departed after little more than six months. The couple later became involved in a series of further premises that included the Shades Hotel, the Ship Hotel in Timaru, the Britannia, and Timaru’s Queen’s Hotel.

With the departure of the Greens Mr. Collins returned to the Hotel and his steady hand stayed firmly at the helm until 1874 when the license was taken over by Messrs Baugh and Wheeler. These gentlemen held the license until 1882 when the business passed into the hands of a Mr. W H Orchard, whose incumbency lasted for little more than a year.

Mr. Collins stayed on at the Hotel briefly after its sale, finally departing in February of 1875 when a group of friends presented him with a marble mantle clock as a memento of his years at the Hotel (MacC478-2). With the sale of the business to Messrs. Baugh and Wheeler, James and Selena Collins turned their backs on The Trade and took up farming in Chertsey. Later they retired to Christchurch, where Selena died on 13th May 1904 aged 87. James did not long survive her and died on the following 7th November. They had two children, a son, John James Collins, who became a leading Christchurch architect and a principal of the partnership of Collins and Harman, and a daughter, Eleanor Sarah.

The next Mine Host was veteran publican John Toovey. Born at Hambledon on the Thames near Henley, Mr. Toovey was a sawyer by trade and emigrated to New Zealand with his wife on the “Amoor” in 1864 (MacT322). The Tooveys settled at first at Templeton, where they farmed, but Mr. Toovey’s interests lay in hotel keeping and he became one of the most prominent publicans of his day. He opened the Star and Garter in Barbadoes Street, and was at various times associated with the Caledonian, the Sawyer’s Arms, the White Horse and the Zetland Arms as well as the Occidental which he leased for three years from 1883 to 1886. Why he decided to move on is unclear, but the fact that the freehold of the Hotel in that year came into the hands of Mr. Hyman Marks may have had something to do with the matter. It is possible that the two fell out, or perhaps Mr. Marks made exorbitant demands for the renewal of the lease, which, then as now was commonly held for three years and was then up for renewal. Such demands were not uncommon and indeed continue to the present day. Whatever the reasons were, the reality was that Mr. Toovey moved on and another gentleman took the lease of the Occidental.

Mr. Toovey’s successor was Monsieur Benoit Lang, who brought to Christchurch a taste of Continental Europe. M. Lang, who boasted of considerable experience in Hotel management both in Paris and other European towns, declared in an advertisement of June 1886 that he intended to conduct the Hotel in a first class Continental style. He redecorated the Hotel and refurnished it and offered Cuisine à la Française. By this time the house was billed as a Family and Commercial Hotel, obviously having diversified from its original purpose as a residence for the families of members of the Christchurch Club. It offered “exceptional advantages to tourists, families and commercial men” (Lyttelton Times 17th June 1886, p1), stressing that the house was connected to the telephone exchange, and was within two minutes walk of the General Post and Telegraph Offices – true, perhaps, if one is an exceptionally fast walker and there is no obstruction in the way. The Hotel also offered sample rooms for the use of Commercial Travellers.

In 1889 the license was taken by John G Harris, and in that year the establishment was renamed the Occidental Hotel. He was followed in 1890 by William Godso, who had previously held the licenses at the New Zealander in St. Asaph Street and the Sumner Hotel.

 

 Charles Burton took control in 1892, to be followed in 1898 by Harry Fleming. George Pain, the proprietor of the Occidental Hotel from 1899 to 1903, was a native of Bristol in England and came to New Zealand in 1879. He was in the engineering business in Rangiora for some years before he branched out into the hospitality trade, taking first the Club Hotel at Rangiora, then the Railway Hotel at Amberley. He was for two years the proprietor of the Star and Garter at Waikari, which he left to take up the license of the Occidental in 1900.

9:02. The Perry Dynasty.

 

In 1906 the license was taken up by Messrs William Fox and Benjamin Perry, and Mr. Perry purchased the freehold of the property on 27th April of that year. The Perry name, still proudly emblazoned in cut glass over the front door, was to remain an active part of the business for the next 71 years. By this time the premises had acquired substantially the same frontal appearance that it has today. This exterior, with its continuous verandahs, cast-iron columns and iron lace-work, is of a distinctly Victorian style that is unique in New Zealand and probably owes its inspiration to Australian models. Such forms were never common in this country whereas they are almost ubiquitous throughout Australia and its origins are difficult to determine; the fact that comparable work in Australia is of earlier date and thus perhaps a carry-over from Georgian and Regency styles may be a clue to its provenance. Fortunately many of the original features are still extant; the iron columns and railings, cast iron lamp standards, the casement doors opening onto the verandah, the Victorian etched window panes and sidelights, even the pressed zinc ceiling panels above the first floor verandah. All these features lend the present Hotel an air of historic authenticity.

            Ben Perry was born in 1845 in Ashford, Kent, and emigrated to New Zealand with his parents in 1857 (MacP327). Sailing on the “George Canning”, the Perry family arrived first at Port Chalmers where young Ben was apprenticed by his father to a brewer, thus introducing him to The Trade at an early age. Gold was discovered in Central Otago in 1861 and Ben headed for the diggings. Over the next few years he prospected at Gabriel’s Gully, Lindis, Winslow, Kumara and Whakamarama with such success that he was able to set himself up in his business of choice. In 1870, at the age of twenty-five, he purchased the lease of the Empire Hotel in Dunedin, beginning a career in hotel-keeping that would continue for fifty-six years. He later transferred to Oamaru, but in 1905 removed to Christchurch in high dudgeon when his home borough was voted dry.

When Perry and Fox took over the Occidental Hotel, the house was a very ordinary place, and Ben, his wife May Ann, and partner William Fox set to work with a will to raise the Hotel’s image and improve the clientele. Their efforts were very quickly rewarded. The business prospered and without doubt, during the first decade or two of the twentieth century, Perry’s Occidental Hotel was “the” place to stay in Christchurch, its high reputation due both to the business acumen of Ben Perry and to Mrs Perry’s fastidious approach to detail in housekeeping. So prestigious was the hotel that a special ministerial room was maintained for the convenience and the exclusive use of visiting parliamentarians. Members of the House such as Bob Semple and Paddy Webb were frequent and regular guests. The twenties were halcyon days, and prices were rather different from those of today. For example, in 1924 a case of Browning’s Dry Gin cost Mr. Perry the princely sum of £1-12-6, 2/8½d a bottle (about 34 cents at today’s rates), and 100 Hoyo de Monterray cigars, imported directly from Cuba, cost him £3-9-7. In 1930 the tariff for accommodation and dinner for two for two nights was £1-4-0 – $2.40 in today’s coin.

            On 2nd June 1920 Mr. Perry Snr. was given a most remarkable accolade, possibly unparalleled in The Trade. On that day the applications for the renewal of liquor licenses were heard by the Christchurch Licensing Committee. Mr. Perry, as usual, made his application, was heard and a renewal granted, which prompted the Chairman, Mr. S E McCarthy SM, to deliver a brief but unprecedented speech of praise on Mr. Perry’s singular achievement. Mr. Perry had then been a licensed publican for fifty years and during the whole of that time no convictions against the liquor laws had been entered against him. Superintendent Dwyer of the Police endorsed His Honour’s statement, saying that Mr. Perry was “one of the good publicans” (Lyttelton Times 3rd June 1920, p4). The Committee duly presented Mr. Perry with his license and had it framed as a memento of his good record; it hangs to this very day above the bar in Chat’s Bar for all to see.

Mr. Perry Snr died on 9th March 1926 and was buried at Oamaru. The freehold of the hotel came into the possession of his widow Mary Ann and the license was taken up their son Ben Jnr, who, on 14th April 1927, came into possession of the freehold. He was ably assisted in his new responsibilities by his wife. Mai Perry – Mrs. Perry Jnr. – had come to the Occidental as a housemaid, had learned her trade under the stern eye of Mrs Perry Snr. and had married young Mr. Benjamin. She was to remain at the hotel for the rest of her life.

The next generation of the Perry family proved to be more than equal to the task of maintaining the high standards set by Ben Snr. and Mary Ann. Professional and dedicated, theirs was not so much an occupation as a vocation, and their record of management was impeccable. That is not to say that they were perfect. They had their faults and one was a propensity to carefulness and economy that approached meanness. Ben would save the dregs from the beer bowsers and sell them to paperhangers at 2/6d the gallon as wall-paper stripper. Mai, tall and imperious, would stand in the kitchen and inspect each passing plate of food. If she deemed that any one plate held too generous a portion, she would flick some of the potato or vegetable off onto another plate, all the while scolding the waitresses and cooks for serving “Too much! Too much!” Autocratic by nature, Mai Perry was not popular with the staff.

On Sunday 26th February 1956 young Mr. Perry died in the first room on the left as you come up the stairs, in the oldest part of the Hotel, but the Perry name would continue at the Occidental. More, it is rumoured that young Mr. Perry has still not vacated his position and has been reported seen from time to time in the upper rooms and at the back of the Hotel.

The question of Mr. Perry’s continued presence in the hotel is an open one, but there can be no doubt of that of the redoubtable Mai Perry. After her husband’s death she continued to run the hotel in the grand manner, and according to the old rules. A tall, regal woman who was still moisturising her skin at the age of 82, and who would never come downstairs until she was made up, she always maintained that an Hotel proprietor had no time for socialising and refused to attend trade functions. She was especially fond of roses, and maintained a garden of floribunda and hybrid tea bushes at the back of the hotel. She refused to let standards slip and allowed the dining room to fall into disuse rather than permit the serving of plum pudding or apple pie that was not to her satisfaction. To her lasting hurt, she had to have the elegant walnut antique furniture and the copper potted palm stand removed from the foyer as some of the more portable items tended to go missing. Mrs. Perry’s standards were never lowered, but those of her customers, alas, were not so rigid.

Three years after her husband’s death, on 6th February 1959, Mai sold the freehold of the Hotel to Roy Alfred Barnsdale, a retired bank manager, James Roland Smith, a retired builder, and Alan Clifford Perry, a solicitor and family member. What her purposes were at this point can only be conjectural but it is possible that Mai wanted to release funds for investment elsewhere, probably in flats in Merivale amongst other things. There are hints of proposed changes to the Hotel from then on, of alterations and additions, but nothing seems to have actually happened and the Occidental Hotel continued in business as usual. In 1970, members of the Perry clan gathered at the Hotel to celebrate one hundred years of involvement in the liquor trade, sixty-four of which had been spent at the Occidental. It is a most singular achievement of the clan that never once during that entire century was a member of the family charged with an offence under the various Licensing or Sale of Liquor Acts. Ben Perry Snr. would have been proud of them.

Despite that she had a block of flats built in Merivale, and often said that she would move into them when she grew old, Mai Perry never did depart the hotel. She remained active in the management of the business to the very end, and died on the premises in 1978 at the age of 82. Curiously enough, the date of her death was Sunday 26th February, 22 years to the day after her late husband. She passed away in the first room on the left as you come up the stairs. With her there passed an era in Hotel keeping, and her precious rose garden was eventually allowed to grow over, all but forgotten.

            The Hotel had, by this time, acquired an Historic Places classification and some approaches were made to the Christchurch City Council for extensions and modifications, but no great pressure was applied. Mr. G S R Fenton, the then City Architect, was ambivalent in his opinion of the building. In a report dated 9th June 1975 he noted that “The hotel is possibly the only surviving example in Canterbury of this particular design style”. He continues; however, “The building has been altered and extended at various times, particularly to the east end of the north elevation and the south elevation. The interior has already been extensively modified and much of the original character has been lost. The timber staircase is perhaps the only remaining complete interior element”. Nothing appears to have come of this, perhaps because Mai Perry was still at the helm.

9:03. New Brooms at the Occidental.

Things began to change rapidly after her death. Ownership of the Hotel had passed from Messrs Barnsdale, Smith and Perry to Messrs Barnsdale, Smith and John Nicholson Matson, a solicitor, on 18th June 1971 and the partnership is described as the Trustees of the Occidental Hotel. Change was in the air. The site was a valuable inner City property and ideal for the development boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s. In September of 1978 the owners approached the City Council, advising that they wished to demolish the hotel and apply for a cancellation of the Hotel’s registration as an historic building under the district scheme. The proposal went before the Town Planning Committee on 5th October 1978, and it was determined that the Hotel was of sufficient merit historically to be retained and should not be demolished without just cause, if at all. The committee recommended that the Council acknowledge its responsibility to pay compensation or purchase the property outright if refusal to cancel the registration meant that the property could not then be developed adequately or if the registration was a real impediment to sale. The Council called on the owners to make further submissions. It noted that the registration covered the facade only.

Clearly this business caused a furore amongst those who valued the City’s heritage, and there were alternative suggestions. In the December 1978 Mr. J R Allison, Secretary of the Canterbury Regional Committee of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust suggested that the Automobile Association, which owned property adjacent the hotel, purchase or lease the Occidental and used it as a licensed club facility for AA members. He suggested that this proposal was “a possible way out for the owners” on whose behalf Mr. Matson, solicitor for the owners, quite rightly “stressed economic considerations and the very important question of compensation for an owner”. The board of the Automobile Association said it would consider the proposal, but clearly the notion was considered to be unsuitable and the matter quietly died away.

Other parties were also interested in developing the venerable Hotel, but in a manner more sympathetic to its history and ambience. An architect’s report of September 1978 noted that much of the building was in a poor state, particularly the public bar, which had “fallen badly in its decoration and furnishing and has degenerated into (just another) nondescript bar in the City”, and the lounge bar had “deteriorated even further from its origins”. Mai Perry had closed down the dining room, and in 1972 the last guest had checked out; the 26 bedrooms were closed off and the upper floor accommodation became increasingly derelict. Overall, however, the report was very positive and stressed the unique history of the place, and the fact that renovation and restoration to a high standard and in keeping with the Victorian and Edwardian era was possible, desirable and economically attractive. The proposal involved the creation of innovative features such as a landscaped eating and drinking area at the front of the Hotel (that area was then under asphalt), external decorative access stairs, a comfortable lounge bar on the upper floor and a conservatory to take advantage of a “delightful garden behind a superb brick garden wall against Woolsack Lane”.

It was not to be. The various parties could not reach agreement and so, on 22nd March 1979 the freehold was sold to Nortel Holdings Ltd. of Dunedin. Whatever ideas Nortel may have had for development obviously made no headway and matters rather marked time until 10th November 1980, when the property was sold to the burgeoning liquor wholesale group Superliquorman (Christchurch) Ltd. The new owners also had plans for redevelopment, which included a 97 square metre wholesale liquor outlet on the eastern side, three ground floor bars with space for 267 people in total, an upstairs bar with room for a further 63 patrons and an upstairs restaurant overlooking Latimer Square. 8 car parks would be created on the western side of the building, while a vehicle access alley would be constructed to link Woolsack Lane with the rear of the wholesale shop. Again, the plans came to nothing.

            By 1984 the property had come into the hands of entrepreneurs Peter Sullivan and Phillip Cooper. Things began to happen at long last. The public bar adjoining Woolsack Lane was remodelled in a ‘Colonial Pub’ theme to a design by Jonty Rout of architectural and planning company Sheppard and Rout, and became Perry’s Bar. In November of 1984, the asphalt driveway at the front was closed to traffic and landscaped, providing a pleasant open-air drinking and dining area of lawn and shrub, barbecue table and sun umbrella that proved very popular indeed. The old lounge bar at the rear of the Hotel was partly demolished, extended, and redecorated in the Art Deco Style of the 1930’s; smooth greys and blacks, with chrome and mirrors, predominated, interspersed with geometrically designed stained glass and there was seating for eighty. Thus was born Flappers, a restaurant and bar by day and a nightclub when the sun went down. There was entertainment, of course, and the first performers were the members of the six-piece band ‘Montage’ who played every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

In 1987 Messrs Sullivan and Cooper sold the Occidental to prominent Christchurch hotelier Mr. Ian McKenzie for a rumoured $4,000,000. In 1993 the Occidental was purchased by B L H Holdings, and is now managed by Max Bremner (the B in B L H). In 1995 the owners decided to reopen the accommodation, locked up and virtually forgotten for more than two decades, becoming shabbier and shabbier, to take advantage of the growing tourist trade and general shortage of beds in Christchurch. The rooms were redecorated in a Colonial manner, after the style of the Victorian era, and were aimed at the more budget-minded end of the travelling market. The Occidental began once more to operate as an Hotel. The desirability of the accommodation and the close proximity to the amenities of the central City, however, has meant that the Hotel’s rooms are now taken up by semi-permanent residents and no casual accommodation is available.

The bars likewise have been redecorated and the Occi Bar on the eastern end of the building has become a popular nightspot and venue, with live music and a disco. The public bar, formerly Perry’s bar, is now Chat’s bar. The back bar underwent the most complete transformation of all. In June – July of 1996 Flappers was closed down and redecorated in a style closely reminiscent of a shearing shed. The bare floors, corrugated iron bar and solid wooden barbecue tables are aimed at the student market; it is somewhere for them to come and entertain themselves in the disgusting manner they students so enjoy and without destroying the place in the process. A student bar has to be virtually bomb-proof and that is what the Bull Bar is. The bar sports an old dentist’s chair, bolted firmly to the ground, of course, and one does wonder just what the students do with it. But perhaps it is better not to dwell to closely on that question.

The Occidental has changed according to changing times, and is still an excellent place to relax and be entertained, but one wonders if the formidable Mai Perry would have approved of it all.

Comments

  • Alex  On 07/11/2010 at 14:38

    Hi
    Ive been researching James and Selina Collins for some time and just found a whole lot I didnt know ,Thank you for that.
    Alex

    • poddimok  On 16/11/2010 at 19:50

      Hello Alex.
      I have had a comment today from an Angie, who was interested to read my article as James Collins was her g’g’grandpa. Would you like to get in touch with her? I think that all you need to do initially is reply to the comment of this website.
      Cheers,
      Stephen.

  • Angie  On 16/11/2010 at 17:03

    Hi I was very interested in reading about my great-great-grandfather James Collins. It added to the info I already had but, not only that, I have the marble clock you speak of! Can you please tell me how you came by this information and waht the (MacC ) references are. Thanks Angie

    • poddimok  On 16/11/2010 at 19:40

      Hello Angie. All the information in the item was gleaned from contemporary news items in the ‘Press’, the ‘Star’ and especially the ‘Lyttelton Times’ which I pored through in the NZ room of the Central Library in Gloucester St. Pop up and have a chat to the librarians up there sometime; they are all very keen to help and very dedicated. the [Mac] references are to the Macdonald Index of Canterbury Biographies. It seems that in the 60s a retired schoolteacher approached the Canterbury Museum and asked if there was anything useful that he could do. They gave him the job of looking through the earliest copies of the three newspapers, which they have in hard copy, for references to people who had come out on the first four ships and indexing them. He got all carried away with the project and the end was result was a card index referencing some 30,000 or more people who came to Christchurch between 1850 and about 1870. The librarians will tell you all about this index and show you how to use it. Believe me, it is a mine of genealogical information. Good hunting! If there is anything else that I can do, please drop me a line.

    • Laura  On 21/05/2013 at 13:04

      Hi Stephen, (and Angie)

      I’m currently writing a thesis on John James Collins and his architectural practice and have been searching for his descendents. I note Angie’s comment above and was wondering if you had her contact details at all…. Angie, if you get this message, I’d love to hear from you!

      Best wishes,
      Laura

      • poddimok  On 21/05/2013 at 15:51

        Hello Laura. Angie contacted me some two and a half years ago, as you can see, and I have not heard from her since. Sorry about that. Cheers, Stephen.

      • Laura Dunham  On 27/05/2013 at 11:50

        A pity, but thanks for letting me know anyway, Stephen.

        Cheers, Laura ________________________________

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