PHO2005_061A.jpg Train crossing Devon Street (about 1899-1900). William Andrews Collis. Collection of Puke Ariki (PHO2005-061).

In these days of traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and health and safety, it seems inconceivable that a locomotive used to steam right across Devon Street. However, as this Collis photograph shows, trains used to chug right down Brougham Street. The Currie Street intersection is in the foreground with the Imperial Hotel to the left.

In 1907, the Devon Street rail crossing was bypassed by the present coastal route. The Imperial Hotel was built in 1864 by Mr William Henwood, who had the building erected in the 'ornamental Italian style'. Construction was finished in 1865 but Henwood was refused a licence for the building on the grounds that he had "sold spirituous liquors to the Natives." However, in April 1866, the hotel was granted a licence. The hotel had a range of proprietors over the years, including Mr W. Walker, who later took the licence for the White Hart. After a long and colourful life, the Imperial Hotel was demolished 1973. 

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