Long-time Queenstowner Simon Stamers-Smith’s connection to Queenstown goes far beyond his 80 years.
A retired lawyer and for mer Queenstown councillor, Stamers-Smith reached his milestone birthday on July 11 — in hospital — but celebrated it with his family at Arrowtown’s Bendix Stables last Thursday, having been released the day prior.
The location was only fit ting, considering the building was constructed by his great-great-grandfather, and second mayor of Queenstown, Bendix Hallenstein.
Stamers-Smith says Hallenstein was born in Brunswick, Germany, and went on to marry Mary Mountain, in Lincoln, England, before the couple moved to Invercargill in 1861.
Three years later, they moved to Queenstown where he built Thurlby Domain, at Speargrass Flat, and owned about 700 hectares of land on which he grew wheat.
Hallenstein and his business partner, James Robertson, then constructed a flour mill at Kawarau Falls and sold flour to local residents and Arrowtown goldminers.
But given the trip from the flour mill to Arrowtown was ‘‘quite a distance’’ back in the
day, Hallenstein needed somewhere in the village to store it.
So, he built the stone stables, which still sit in the corner of Buckingham Green, nowadays operating as a gastro pub.
Stamers-Smith says the flour was stored in the upper room, while horses were kept on the bottom.
Hallenstein later moved to Dunedin and started Hallenstein Brothers — best-known for men’s clothing store, Hallenstein’s, and Glassons — and had four daughters, Emily, Henrietta, Agnes and Sara.
Sara married Willi Fels, and that couple had three daughters, Helena – whose son was poet Charles Brasch – Emily and Kate, and a son, Harald.
Stamers-Smith says Kate married Dr Tommy Thompson and they had two children — Timothy, his uncle, and Eunoe, his mother.
As far as the original stables goes, Stamers-Smith says the owners of Bendix Stables have done ‘‘a bloody great job’’ with the building, in which proudly hangs a portrait of the man who started it all, done by graffiti artist Hazer.