Plaque marks banking history

Ashburton Trust chairman Chris Robertson (left) and Ashburton mayor Neil Brown reveal the blue plaque on the the Speight's Ale House building. Below: The new blue plaque.

A handsome Ashburton building with a strong banking history is the latest to be recognised with a blue plaque by Historic Places Mid Canterbury.

The former Bank of New South Wales building on the corner of Cass and Burnett streets was opened in 1898 and since 2006 has been the Speight’s Ale House.

The brick and Oamaru stone building at 245 Burnett Street was built to house the bank and its manager.

The banking chamber was on the ground floor, while the second floor featured a large living space, including five bedrooms, for the bank official.

It was the 34th branch of the Bank of New South Wales to open in New Zealand.

The bank later joined forces with the Commercial Bank of Australia to become Westpac.

The Westpac Bank operated in the building into the late 1990s and later Agricom used it in the early 2000s.

Ashburton Trust purchased the building in 2006 and it opened later that year as Speight’s Ale House.

Trust chairman Chris Robertson said the former bank building had grace and longevity.

The trust was pleased to own it and have Speight’s in it.

In 2015/16 the building had been strengthened and its integrity and facade preserved.

He said the building was a community asset and had links to the past, present and future.