132 Oxford Terrace,
Christchurch

The legendary journey of

Arthur Shand

The legendary Arthur Shand arrived in New Zealand in August 1878 from Australia in search of outlets for Guinness & Sons new brew Guinness Stout which is now a popular tipple in Ireland.

Here you can read through the journals of Mr Arthur Shand’s journey through Australasia in 1878

Journal Entry No. One

The legendary Arthur Shand arrived in NZ in August 1878 from Australia in search of outlets for Guinness & Sons new brew Guinness stout now a popular tipple in Ireland.

His first port of call was Dunedin which was in the frenzied grip of the Otago gold rush. Much like the Wild West in America the province was a raging mass of lawlessness with whisky swilling gambling and pubs a plenty.

He was amazed at what the colony had to offer and being a staunch drinker and card player himself became distracted from his purpose launching into the Dunedin nightlife of debauchery.

The drink and other activities he indulged in marred his abilities as a card player to the point he used a Guinness consignment as part of his gambling collateral.

He lost! As the ship with the Irish stout was at sea on its way to Dunedin he promised his opponent payment for the gambling debt would arrive soon. The terrible news arrived that the ship the Augustine had founded and sank on a reef off the Chatham Islands.

Apparently over the next few months Chatham Islanders were seen to be totally hammered down at the beach as bottles floated ashore with lots of dancing to a lone drunk violinist and to this day the beach is called ‘Little Fiddle Bay’

Arthur sent a letter to Guinness & Sons informing them of the ships sinking requesting another load of stout but not of his gambling loss considering it just a ‘little fiddle!”

Arthur Shand stole a horse and decided Dunedin was not the place for a Guinness & Son bar and scarpered in the dead of night heading to the Gold fields with a ‘little fiddle here and a little fiddle there his adventure continued…

Journal Entry No. Two

The legendary Arthur Shand arrived in NZ in August 1878 from Australia in search of outlets for Guinness & Sons new brew Guinness stout now a popular tipple in Ireland.

Needing to leave Dunedin in a hurry over a gambling debt Arthur stole a horse and scarpered in the dead of night high tailing it to the wee gold rush town of Clyde in Central Otago.

Surrounding the picturesque stone buildings there was a tent town as well which also perched on the banks of the wide and deep flowing Clutha River. The nightlife was mad with an abundance of drinking, gambling and all the debauchery you could imagine.

Arthur once again hit the card tables with only a few remaining pounds in his pockets. He won! A small bag of gold nuggets and an 1851 Navy Colt revolver were now his but he was spotted by a couple of shady characters as he left the table with his new booty. Arthur was attacked as he made his way to his horse by these two robbers.

With no time to draw his pistol the fist fight was on! Having been brought up in Ireland Arthur knew how to handle himself but they started to get the better of him. Next thing he heard a high pitched shout “Thieves, murderers!” and then the sound of smashing wood. The two assailants made off holding their heads.

Arthur staggered to his feet with a bloodied face, looked down and there he saw a dwarf holding a broken violin.. ”You alright mister?” the nugget small person asked. “Hey thanks for that…bastards…sorry about ya instrument wee pal.”“Ah never mind” the midget said “It was just a little fiddle!”

Journal Entry No. Three

The legendary Arthur Shand arrived in NZ in August 1878 from Australia in search of outlets for Guinness & Sons new brew Guinness stout now a popular tipple in Ireland.

Having left Dunedin in a hurry on a stolen horse because of a gambling debt he however won at cards in Clyde Central Otago leaving there with a bag of gold nuggets and an 1851 Colt revolver.

He had been saved from robbery by a Dwarf with a ‘little fiddle’ who now had a gold nugget for his trouble. Arthur then headed up the Buller Gorge to Nelson as he still hadn’t found the right place for ‘The Little Fiddle’ bar. The name now embedded in his mind as being appropriate after it seemed to crop up in his adventures so much.

After seeing a Lindaeur painting in a Dunedin pub of the Buller Gorge he now realised why this artist had been transfixed by the place. ‘Its firkin stunning!’ he thought to

himself as he rode the rocky trail beside the wild Buller river, the water cascading over the mountainous boulders, the noise roaring in his ears so much so he didn’t hear the four riders closing in from behind.

The infamous Burgess Gang known for their ruthless attacks on minors who were heading for the Assays Office in Nelson approached. “Stand and deliver!” Richard Burgess yelled as he pulled alongside Arthur pistol drawn. Arthur spun around in his saddle with fright pleased he had been to the toilet a few miles back, he fell off the horse, pulled his Colt revolver from his waist band as he fell.

When he hit the stony ground the gun went off, the boom resounding up the gorge, panicking all the horses and the gang galloped off yelling at each other. Arthur stood up and fired at the fleeing bushwhackers blowing a saddle bag off one of the rider’s horses.

He recovered his horse and picked up the saddle bag he had hit and what he saw next made him burst out with laughter. He pulled from the bag a small case with ‘Thomas Perry made in Dublin’ written on the battered leather covering. He opened the case and there before his eyes with a bullet hole through its neck was a ‘Little Fiddle!!!’ “That firkin does it!” he said outloud “The Little Fiddle it is!”

Journal Entry No. Four

The legendary Arthur Shand arrived in NZ in August 1878 from Australia in search of outlets for Guinness & Sons new brew Guinness stout now a popular tipple in Ireland.

After a gambling loss in Dunedin, a stolen horse, nearly robbed in Clyde and a run in with the Burgess Gang up the Buller Gorge Arthur made for Nelson to exchange his gold nuggets for cash at the Assays Office. He also wondered if ‘The Little Fiddle’ bar was for Nelson. It wasn’t! He exchanged the gold nuggets for pounds at the Assays Office and rode a ways up the dusty street.

There were pubs everywhere, on street corners, in general stores with one even at the Catholic Church. Arthur spotted what looked like an Irish bar ‘Murphys’ so he tethered his horse, well not his actually, his stolen horse which he called ‘Nicked’ and went in to Murphys bar.

It was rough as guts he thought to himself but with trail dust in his gizzard he stepped up to the bar and ordered a beer. The barman was Murphy himself, a large ginger bearded ugly cuss with one eye and a wooden leg. “Who are you and what’s ya business?” he asked Arthur “and that’ll be a penny!” Arthur took a gulp of the amber suds and said “Arthur Shand and I’m here for Guinness & Sons looking to open a bar” tossing a coin on to the beaten pewter bar top.

Murphy grabbed his wooden leg and swung wildly at Arthur yelling “Piss off ya Irish git you’ll not be opening another firkin Irish bar here! Lads!” Arthur spun around only to be grabbed by two big burley buggers who then threw Arthur into the street.

He dusted himself off and climbed back on his horse thinking about his gun in the saddle bag but thought the better of it. He grinned to himself riding off at a walk up the busy street thinking of the small musical instrument also in the bag. “Come on little fiddle this is no place for you!”

He headed for Kaikoura where it was said they ate big bugs from the sea and had a whale of a time.

Journal Entry No. Five

The legendary Arthur Shand arrived in NZ in August 1878 from Australia in search of outlets for Guinness & Sons new brew Guinness stout now a popular tipple in Ireland.

After a gambling loss in Dunedin, a stolen horse, nearly robbed in Clyde and a run in with the Burgess Gang up the Buller Gorge Arthur made for Nelson to exchange his gold nuggets for cash at the Assays Office. He also wondered if ‘The Little Fiddle’ bar was for Nelson. It wasn’t!

Arthur made his way on ‘Nicked’ his stolen horse to Kaikoura where he heard the sea food was ‘as good as gold’ as they say. He was not disappointed needing a rest from his journey thus far. It was an oasis by the sea and he met a young woman named Flossie who was not only easy on the Irish eye but was a mean fiddle player ta boot.

Arthur spent a little time with Flossie at The Adelphi Hotel where she played for room and board. Unfortunately for Arthur he wasn’t the only one after her affections.

Big Ben Thompson with a hook for hand stepped into the bar one night after a fishing trip only to find Flossie in the arms of the sweet talking Arthur. “Get your dirty filthy mits off the woman!” he yelled! The bar just stopped as the locals knew the temper of Big Ben all too well.

Flossie got off Arthurs knee and said “Oh Ben don’t be silly its not wh…” “Shut ya mouth Flossie and you.” Pointing at Arthur “Stand up and face me like a man ya bastard!” Big Ben strode toward him across the bar knocking a table over, pints flying in all directions and Bens hook glinting menacingly in the kerosene lantern light.

Arthur ducked the first hook swing dodging the spike by an inch but had his shoulder slashed on the next swing. That was it for Arthur, enough is enough in this blasted colony so he grabbed a heavy brass spittoon and with a huge ‘BONG’ struck Big Ben on the temple, down he went and smashed onto the wooden floor boards glasses jumping off the bar top. Silence followed, heart beats could be heard then a resounding cheer from the locals as Big Bens bullying ways finally had a pay back.

They hoisted Arthur onto the bar shouting him a bottle of Irish Whiskey while Flossie tended his wound. “Where are you off to next Arthur?” she asked. “Off to Christchurch to open a bar Flossie.” “Would ya be needin a little fiddle by any chance Arthur?” she asked. “I’d love you to come Flossie then we’ll head to Christchurch!” so they both went upstairs.

Journal Entry No. Six

The legendary Arthur Shand arrived in NZ in August 1878 from Australia in search of outlets for Guinness & Sons new brew Guinness stout now a popular tipple in Ireland.

After a gambling loss in Dunedin, a stolen horse, nearly robbed in Clyde, saved by a fiddle wielding dwarf, a run in with the Burgess Gang up the Buller Gorge, thrown out of Murphys bar in Nelson, a fight with Big Ben Thompson in Kaikoura where he met Flossie who had a real talent as a fiddler. They set out for Christchurch stopping at the Hurunui Hotel having held its license continuously since 1st July 1860.

The Pubs cook Paddy O’Rourke was the best Arthur decided. Paddy had cooked in the gold fields but left in a hurry after putting a laxative in his irish stew to pay back a bunch of minors who had stolen his two mules.

Arthur talked Paddy into coming to Christchurch to cook at The Little Fiddle Bar and Paddy promised not to fiddle with the stew. But Flossie fiddled all night much to the delight of the locals not to forget Arthur of coarse who was enamoured by her in more ways than one let alone her fiddling prowess.

Arthur, Flossie and Paddy finally arrived in Christchurch reminding Arthur of Ireland and England with its stone buildings, rose gardens and cathedral still under construction. This was the place for The Little Fiddle Bar he thought. Flossie too was convinced and they even spotted the place to build where it stands today. On that spot Flossie and Arthur were married by the Archdeacon Mathias and six months later Arthur Shand the 2nd was born. Needless to say a lot of fiddling had taken place between the happy couple along with an abundance of Flossie’s violin playing.

Unfortunately Arthur received a letter from Guinness & Sons demanding he return to Dublin where he was required to report his findings in New Zealand. Whilst he, Flossie and little Arthur were there Arthur sent two Irish builders back to Christchurch to commence construction of The Little Fiddle Bar which took some years to complete some saying they just ‘fiddled about.’ In the meantime Paddy cooked for a few pubs in Canterbury all the time perfecting his menu for the The Little Fiddle.

Arthur and family returned to Christchurch in 1908 where he fired his appointed manager of The Little Fiddle Bar taking over with young Arthur and Flossie becoming famous for their boisterous hospitality, Paddy’s now famous fare and if you wanted a fiddle this was the place to be. Flossie adopted a cat she called ‘Diddle’ after the riddle the cat and the fiddle but Arthur reckoned she named ‘Diddle’ after him.

Arthur died in 1910, the headstone had a fiddle etched into the granite with the words
‘Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle cause Arthur loved pussy’