Methven was founded in 1869 by Mr Robert Patton, who bought land and named it Methven after his hometown of Methven in Scotland. The first Methven Hotel began operating on the corner of Main Street and Kilworth Street in 1880. The second Methven Hotel was erected on the same site in 1916 and is today known as the Blue Pub.
The first Methven Hotel was built in early 1880 on the corner of Main and Kilworth Streets for Robert Patton to service the end of the new railway line from Rakaia to Methven. Initially, it had 12 bedrooms but additions brought it up to about 30 rooms total by the time of a mortgagee sale by auction on 6 February,1886; Patton having been declared bankrupt in 1885. A Mr Shand purchased the hotel but Patton continued to operate the hotel until he died 20 October, 1889, aged 51 years.
Patton’s widow, Mary Josephine Patton applied for the license the following year. She later married James Nee who by 1892 had assumed the license. His tenure was peppered with complaints and he was several times convicted of drunkenness (once also while in possession of a firearm). However, the Methven Constable Jackson, defended Nee at a Selwyn Licensing Committee meeting in Darfield in 1898: saying “the district was the roughest in the South Island ‘bar none’, principally on account of the number of casual labourers who came there at certain seasons of the year”.
On 17 December, 1896 a fire began between 2 & 3am in the Methven Hotel stables. The proprietor James Nee lost a 15-stall stable, buggy shed and feed house. Saddlery, harness and two racehorses (‘Brown Eagle’ & ‘Flyaway’) were also lost in the blaze. The total value was about £600, covered by the National Insurance Office. The fire was thought to have been caused by a swagger sleeping in the stable.
Mr Timothy Twomey held the lease from 1911, and in 1915 demolished the main, southern section of the hotel owing to its poor state of repair. A new Methven Hotel was erected during the year, and the remaining original part was later removed to the Nee farm “Three Springs” for use as a granary. In September 1916, Mr Twomey sold the hotel to Mr Thomas Aspell, in order to go farming at Highbank.
This image is of The Blue Pub and floats celebrating the end of WW11.
In 1975, the Methven Hotel was roughcast to aid its preservation. After being painted blue, it also became known as the “Blue Pub”
An extension built in 1978 was named “Samuel’s Bar”, in memory of the young son of one of the publicans, who passed away during its construction. From 1999 to 2011, the hotel grounds were the venue for an annual “Big Air” competition where skiers and boarders displayed their free-skiing abilities on a temporary, constructed jump covered in trucked-in snow.
Since 1999, the Blue Pub has also provided the end point for the annual “Peak to Pub” multisport race, usually run in September. Competitors, individually or in teams, ski or snowboard down Mt Hutt; mountain bike 18km down the mountain road to Highway 72; then run the remaining 12km to the Blue Pub, swimming the RDR en route. An adult sized bouncy castle at the finish line provides great entertainment for the many spectators. Most recently the Blue was the venue for the Mt Hutt 50th Welcome celebrations with thousands flocking to enjoy a tractor float parade, ice skating, live music and more.