• Helena Selwood at Invercargill

    Helena Selwood shifted from her Lake Wakatipu Hotel at Kingston to Invercargill in late 1906.  As discussed in the Kingston chapter, Helena leased out her hotel in September 1906 for a five-year period, but due to leasing problems where the lessee failed to pay rent and insurances, Helena was forced to repossess her Lake Wakatipu Hotel under court order and she returned to Kingston in September 1909.

    She shifted to Invercargill mainly for health reasons.  Perhaps the cold and damp conditions living at Kingston under the overhanging shadow of the Eyre Range contributed to this.

    Invercargill was a booming regional town when Helena moved there in 1906.  She would have been, of course, very familiar with Invercargill as the key regional town for obtaining supplies, and carrying out legal business.  The railway network provided her a relatively quick and comfortable link from Kingston, Parawa, or Lumsden in the north.  The town itself had a strong communication network with horse-drawn trams from 1881, replaced by electric trams in 1912.  Invercargill was declared a city in 1930 and is the most southern and western one in New Zealand.

    In Invercargill Helena took out a lease on the Victoria Private Hotel.  This hotel was on the corner of Clyde and Tyne Streets, a little south of the town on the Bluff highway.

    The Victoria Hotel was established in the 1860s, and in 1864 it was one of 23 hotels licensed that year.  It was in a good position to capture the new immigrants arriving from the Bluff, then called Campbelltown.

    The property had relatively few owners, but many licensees in its life as a public then private hotel, and then a boarding house until it was demolished in the 1920s.  The original hotel was rebuilt in 1888 as a two-story brick building containing 16 rooms, including nine bedrooms, a sitting room and 15 guests.  By the time Helena Selwood took over the lease it was run as a private hotel.  Most tenants were long-term boarders.  This would have made management somewhat easier for Helena than the stresses of the Lake Wakatipu Hotel at Kingston.

    Living with her at the Victoria Hotel in 1906 would likely be daughter Helena (Nellie) aged 25 who married Norman Calder the following year.  Also with mother Helena would be sixth born Albert aged 20, seventh born Charles aged 19, eighth born Rosie Selwood aged 17, ninth born William, tenth born  Evelyna (Eva) aged 14, and Hilda (Tot) aged 12 who attended the Invercargill South School.

    The situation regarding fifth born Lily is unknown.  She would have been 22 in 1906, and is believed to have moved to Australia never to be heard of again.  In 1906, oldest son Henry, aged 32, was living and working at the Nokomai goldfields.  Eldest daughter Edith married in 1899 to George Garrett and was living in the Parawa-Nokomai district.  Elizabeth (Bessie) Selwood had married John Burke in 1904 and lived in Invercargill.

    The New Zealand Directory for Invercargill, 1908, has Helena Selwood as managing the private hotel on the corner of Clyde Street and Tyne Street.  When Helena needed to regain access to her Lake Wakatipu Hotel at Kingston her eldest daughter Edith Garrett took over the management of the private hotel.

    For the next few years the Victoria premises, now classified as a boarding house, was managed by Ellen Groves, the wife of George Groves.  Charles Selwood was still boarding there and obviously took a fancy to the Groves’ daughter Kathleen, and married her in February 1911.