The History of Paroa, Greymouth

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Word got out in 1866 that gold had been found in Saltwater Creek. There were plenty of gold miners already camped in the new town of Greymouth. The rush to the creek brought several thousnad men storming over the dunes and driftwood. A mining camp was established overnight. Greymouth’s newspaper the Argus reported “all been put up in hot haste, that here was one of marvelous creations of modern days, a digging township. Hammers noisly sounding, the publicans’ bars crowded with diggers eager to push the new diggings, with the accompaniment of noisy boatmen and general assortment of loafers looking out with wistful eyes.” William Revell Warden of the Grey area was duly sent to supervise the new town and estimated the population of Paroa at 4500. Paroa had 7 Hotels to satisfy the thirsty miners a Post Office, Road Board Office, Baker and a School.

The first and only entance to Paroa via The New River was soon woefully inadequate to carry the increaing rush of ever hopefull gold diggers. The best solution was to construct a tramway through the dense bush and the Greymouth-Saltwater Tramway was registered in October 1866 with the line completed in the following May. The station erected at Saltwater Creek was an intrigiunbg and unique covered archway over rails that was an extension of the hotel building. The gabled roof carried the prominent lettering, “Williams Hotel and Station” (this is seen in one of the pictures above) An inland branch line was also laid to Rutherglen.

The township had the foundations for a prosperous future but tradgedy struck in 1874 with fire engulfing most of the town, with one person dead. Most people shifted to Marsden or followed the ever present excitement of a new discovery of gold elsewhere in Greymouth and The West Coast. The development of a railway from Greymouth to Hokitika through Paroa enabled it to survive as the railway station attracted cargo and passengers. ALso a large population of Chinese people arrived. The Chinese people would normally occupy old diggings and earned good money reworking old tailings that the Europeans would abandon in their haste for new discoveries. A lot stayed in Paroa and set up market gardens. Sawmilling soon developed in Paroa and also in the wider area of Greymouth and used Paroa as a convenient railhead.

The Paroa Hotel has been a popular spot since the first gold miners arrived to seek their fortune in 1866. There was once a busy port that used to carry passengers, goods and essential miners supplies like alcohol and tobacco. Out of the 7 hotels that were around in the Gold Rush in Paroa, The Paroa Hotel is the only surviving one. Most other hotels were dismantled and moved away to new gold fields or were destroyed by fire (a common fate for West Coast Hotels).

The late Ham and Corrie Monk arrived from Kaikoura to purchase The Paroa Hotel in 1954. 55 years on, the Monk family are still here with the third generation offering the best in West Coast Hospitality.The hotel is built totally from stone collected from South Westland.

Bernie and Winston Monk are your hosts and they welcome you to relax and enjoy the friendly environment that is The Paroa Hotel.

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