The Birdcage

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133 Franklin Road,

The Birdcage Information


The Birdcage was originally known as the Rob Roy Hotel due to an earlier hotel which was located close to Victoria Street. The site of the first Rob Roy Hotel in Freemans Bay was sold by the crown in 1853 to spinster Catherine Marks for £74. She sold it nine years later to William Morrin, making a tidy profit of £426.

In May 1862 the property was leased to land agent Michael Wood for a term of five years with a right to purchase. By 1865 a wooden hotel, known as the “Rob Roy” had been erected on the site and was being operated by James Rosie. Patrons could come to the hotel by road or water as the property was close to Freemans Bay shoreline. In 1867 the property was sold to merchant David Nathan. In 1881 the licensee was teetotaller William Regan, who would operate the business for the rest of the 19th century. In 1885 the Rob Roy Hotel saw many changes. In September it was sold to Samuel Jagger who made plans for a new Rob Roy Hotel on a new site . The following month tenders were called by the architects, E. Mahoney & Sons. On 10 October 1885 the New Zealand Herald gave details of the new hotel which would soon grace the site:

It will be three storeys in height, including basement, and constructed of brick, the basement storey of blue stone, with concrete foundations. The basement will be 7 feet 6 inches in clear, ground floor 14 feet, and first floor 12 feet 6 inches. It is intended to carry the present culvert right under the hotel and through the allotment, so as to have a perfect drainage system.

The basement storey comprises kitchen, pantry scullery, store-rooms, beer and coal cellars and servant’s dining-rooms. On the ground floor will be a bar (on street corner), three sitting-rooms, serving room – latter has lift from basement. A commodious staircase gives access to the first floor. There will be a large sitting-room on the corner with oriel window, and nine bedrooms, bath-room, linen closet, & c. The bar will be handsomely fitted up, and all the rooms on the ground floor have dados. The facade is to be in Italian style, pressed red brick with white stone facings, and the whole of ornamental design. It will be surmounted with a parapet with entablature.

By the end of January 1886 the hotel had nearly been completed by the contractors Cleghorn & Rosser. It occupied a prominent corner site fronting Franklin Road and Drake Street. By 1905 numerous other buildings had been constructed in the area, The level of Franklin Road also appears to have been raised, although the lot behind the Birdcage appears unchanged at this point, still sited at a lower level than the houses. In 1969 the east wing was extended and the name of the hotel was later changed to “The Birdcage”. The hotel continued to serve the people of Auckland through the late 19th and 20th centuries, and most recently this century.

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