Vulcan Hotel History
In Roman mythology, Vulcan was the god of volcanoes and fire, especially of the forge. The naming of the Vulcan Hotel makes sense as its original owner was a blacksmith.
Samuel Hanger, originally from Tasmania, travelled to Otago on the ship Aldinga in November 1862. He left behind his pregnant wife Mary and their two children, his family later joined him in 1864.
Samuel worked as a blacksmith supplying the miners with sluice pipes and began serving thirsty miners in a calico tent in 1864, a year after gold was first discovered.
In 1869 with thirteen hotels in opposition, Samuel opened the Vulcan Hotel in a corrugated iron building with two doors and and two windows. Five years later in 1874 he built an annex on the opposite side of the road to operate as a billiards room and an extension of the Vulcan.
Samuel Hanger died in 1879, leaving Mary to run the hotel with four children in tow. He is buried in the St Bathans public cemetery. Mary sold the Vulcan to her son Davids’ father in law, John Thurlow, and his brother William in 1888.
The Vulcan was damaged by fire in 1889. The Thurlow brothers built stables to extend the billiard room annex in 1899.
With the death of William Thurlow in 1902 the Vulcans licence was transferred to Patrick Sexton, then to Gilbert O’Hara in 1907. From 1912 to 1922 the McDevitts held the licence.
In 1914 fire destroyed the Vulcan Hotel and it was rebuilt in red brick. Fire again destroyed the Vulcan in 1931 and the licence was transferred to the empty Ballarat Hotel building (the current Vulcan Hotel premises).
In 1974 the Billiards room and stables were sold for use as a holiday home, and in 1982 the titles of hotel and the billiards rooms were separated.
In 1987 a number of locals formed a company to buy the Hotel to keep it in local hands, until the new owners Gerry and Denise Shaw purchased the Hotel in June 2021.
Bank of New South Wales Gold Office
It is now managed by DOC.
This stone cottage was originally occupied by Samuel Hanger, the original owner of the Vulcan Hotel, and his sons. It had many uses over the years and is thought to have been used as a blacksmiths shop at one time. It was restored by DOC in 1990.
Rowan Cottage was owned by a local builder and timber merchant, Thomas Wilkinson. He and his brother John were originially shipbuilders from Newcastle UK, and constructed many of the buildings in St.Bathans and nearby Naseby, Oturehua and Ophir
In 1864 a Police Camp was established in calico tents in Dunstan Creek. It
was replaced by the current wooden building in 1883. Behind this wooden
building is the old St Bathans gaol.
There was a Catholic Church in Dunstan Creek from as early as 1864.
In 1866 a corrugated iron building was built for use as a church. In 1870 a
building, built using weatherboard with a corrugated iron roof, was intended to
be a more permanent structure. But this building was blown down in a storm
in 1877, all that remained was the vestry.
The ruin was dismantled and re-errected at the bottom end of town for
temporary use as a church. This was also used as a school and a public hall.
The present St Patricks Catholic Church was completed in 1892, built from
mud brick with a corrugated iron roof.
Church of St Alban the Martyr
St Bathans has had a protestant church since the early 1860’s.
The first church, funded by voluntary subscription, blew down in a violent gale
the day after it opened. This building was quickly replaced, but sadly the
second building had its roof blown off in another storm. Services were then
conducted in the public school on the main street.
Some years later the absentee run holder of Hawkdun Station, Captain F G
Dalgety, arranged for a prefabricated church to be shipped out from the United
Kingdom. This is the corrugated iron building that stands on the site today.
The first sermon was delivered in the present interdenominational Church of
St Alban the Martyr in 1883.
Gold Mining in St Bathans
Gold at St Bathans is contained in alluvial gravels (gravels deposited by the
action of water or ice).
Water was a critical part of the mining process, needed not only to separate the
gold from the dirt but to carry away the dirt (tailings) once the gold has been
Initially the best paying claims were higher on the spurs with nearby water in
short supply, so the gravels either had to be carried to the water or the water
conveyed to the site.
Large companies were formed to enable the cutting of lengthy water races.
The cutting of a race was usually more expensive than most miners could
afford so they purchased water from the large companies.
The water races carried water to St Bathans from the Manuherikia River, and
by 1865-66 the miners were dependant on the water companies for water.
Sludge channels, or tail races, were dug to carry away the tailings. As the
miners worked deeper into the ground deeper tail races had to be dug to carry
away the waste gravel. The tailings had a profound effect on the rivers into
which they flowed, raising the beds many feet.
The mining methods at St Bathans included ground sluicing, hydraulic sluicing
and hydraulic elevating.
St Bathans originally lay in a gully at the foot of Kildare Hill, in a gully known as
Peymans Gully. Following the discovery of gold, the 120m high hill was flattened
after only ten years of mining using water jets to remove the gold bearing gravels.
Mining continued below the level of the town and the gravels were then lifted to
the surface by Hydraulic Elevating, and by around 1873 the area was being
referred to as Kildare Basin.
Mining ceased in 1934 after it was feared that the main street and buildings
were in danger of falling into the hole.
The 60m deep hole, known as ‘The Glory Hole’, eventually filled naturally with
mineral charged waters to form The Blue Lake.