On an empty beach near Sumner, a young boy and his Irish Spaniel stand at the shoreline as the photographer captures the moment. Further down the beach, beneath the original formation of Clifton Spur, stand two large rocks – one of which is Shag Rock.
Nestled beneath Clifton Hill, is the two storey wooden accommodation house owned by the Day family – Sumner’s first permanent residents. Beside this site, Captain Thomas, had built the first store and building in Sumner in 1849. It was here that the Days stayed for some time – becoming the first family to permanently reside in Sumner.
George Day and his family hailed from a farming background in Maidstone, Kent before emigrating to Wellington in 1841. They settled on a small plot of land at a bay out of Wellington later named, Days Bay. George built a ketch and began a business transporting goods around the bays as well as venturing further south to Port Cooper. After their home was destroyed in the severe earthquake of 1848, the Days moved south to take up opportunities offered by the Canterbury Settlement.
George took the position of construction supervisor on the Lyttelton to Sumner Road. There was virtually no accommodation to speak of so the family first lived under canvas at Gollan’s Bay below Evan’s Pass before moving into the Sumner Store. Captivated by Sumner’s beauty, George Day decided to build a large house next door to it in 1858.
After the arrival of the First Four Ships, the number of tired and hungry settlers walking over the Evans Pass Road from Lyttelton to Christchurch, grew. Accommodation and food was non existent so seeing an opportunity, George Day began a refreshment and accommodation business at his new home. First known as the Canterbury Arms, it was soon called Day’s Hotel.
The hotel business grew. He also expanded his freighting business as well as taking on the responsibilities of signalman for ships and boats crossing the Sumner bar.
Over the years, Day’s Hotel license changed its names – in 1862-63 it was held by L. R. Radden and later in the name of Mrs Scheuter.
When the Day’s first built their hotel in 1849, the only mode of transport was by boat. However by 1857, the road from Lyttelton across Evans Pass to Sumner and up Ferry Road to Christchurch was formed well enough for wagons and coaches to use it. Coach companies slowly established regular services via Sumner to Lyttelton.
On 15th February 1888, the Canterbury Tramway Company applied for a concession to build lines for the New York built double decker cabs and tram to run from Ferry Bridge to Sumner. This extension to Sumner, opened up Sumner, to crowds of visitors wanting a day trip to the seaside.
The maximum fare from Sumner to Ferry Bridge was to be no more than sixpence or threepence to the Cutting, and one tram each way had to be an express and take no longer than forty minutes for the trip. Annual passes were set at five pounds for adults and three pounds for children and students, regardless of the number of trips taken.
The Day’s accommodation house was destroyed by fire in 1892.
- Source: One Photograph, black & white; 16 x 21 cm, New Zealand Views: Photographic Prints by F A Coxhead, The Octagon, Dunedin 0052, Photo CD 1, IMG0046 Archive 342, p. 24.
- Taken from The London Illustrated News, November 26, 1864.
- Source: CCL One photograph, Black & White, 16 x 21 cm, William Travers Album, p. 3 0012 PhotoCD 1, IMG0006 Archive 344, Travers, W. T. L. (William Thomas Locke) 1819-1903.