Tuesday, 19 November 2013

"Temple of Drama"

“This popular Theatre is crowded nightly, and is unquestionably the only legitimate Temple of Drama in the district.”

"Temple of Drama"

At six foot six inches tall 63 year old Clement J Moore was a striking figure.  He was more commonly known by the name Long Moore, and although a resident of Karangahake, was familiar to many in Thames.

On a December morning in 1901 Long Moore appeared to be loitering about Grahamstown, occasionally in the vicinity of the Royal Hotel on the corner of Owen and Williamson Streets.
Samuel Howard, the 41 year old licensee of the Royal Hotel noticed him as he went about his business.  The Royal Hotel was a landmark in the district and had been built at a time when hotels were places for not only drinking but entertainment as well.  Part of the Royal  was  known as the Theatre Royal. The wooden structure had two storeys and contained 36 rooms excluding those Samuel’s family used.

Around 20 to 1 that afternoon Samuel went to the hairdressing saloon of Mr Thomas Dunbar in Brown Street and had a shave. On coming out he noticed Long Moore approaching and greeted him.
Long Moore muttered something indistinctly and, shaking his head, suddenly raised his right hand in which was a revolver.  At a distance of a few paces he fired a shot at Samuel who made an effort to get clear, but the shot glanced off his right thigh, embedding itself in the bottom of a verandah post close by. A second shot entered the upper part of Samuel’s left thigh.  The third shot missed him.
Long Moore then calmly lifted his own hat and placed the six chambered revolver to his forehead and fired, falling dead immediately.

Although twice hit Samuel managed to stay on his feet until assistance arrived.  He was at once taken into his own hotel and Doctor’s Bond and Lapriak were summoned.
Dr Bond arrived first and ordered the injured man removed to Thames Hospital.  Samuel was quickly put under chloroform.  The operation performed by Dr Aubin was successful in tracing and extracting the bullet.  It appeared to have struck in an oblique direction from the left side and traversed the upper part of the thigh to the right of the spine.

Due to superficial wounds there was some confusion over how many bullets hit Samuel, but he said he distinctly felt two bullets strike him. Samuel said he knew no reason whatever for Long Moore’s action.  He had always been on friendly terms with the man and never had an angry word with him.

At the time of the shooting there were a number of pedestrians in Brown Street and one or two had a very narrow escape from being hit. The police were quickly on the scene; they  took charge of Long Moore’s body and conveyed it to the morgue. In his right hand he still grasped the revolver and in the pockets of his vest were found six other bullets. The revolver was an old one and on it were engraved the words ‘British Constabulary.’ Two shillings and 7d were found on Moore, but no letters or papers.

The evening before the shooting Long Moore had arrived in Thames from Paeroa on the last train.  He put up at the Wharf Hotel for the night.   John Kelly, licensee of the Wharf Hotel, had known Long Moore for about 20 years. During the evening he had a conversation with him and he mentioned in passing a sum of 250 pounds which he said he lost in the Imperial mine shares – a loss he attributed to mismanagement by Samuel  Howard who at one time had been the mine manager.
Long Moore didn’t make any threats or lead Mr Kelly to believe he had come to Thames for any other than an ordinary visit. In the morning he got up, appeared to be in good health, had a hearty breakfast and left the Wharf Hotel about 11.30 am.

Dr Bond thought Samuel stood a good chance of a speedy recovery and he would be able to give evidence in about nine or ten days if he progressed favourably.  

Samuel said there was no basis to Long Moore’s share loss accusations and he had always treated him with the greatest of respect.  On several occasions he had shown him through the Imperial mine and given him any information he requested about its prospects.
Long Moore had never accused him personally of being the cause of his loss in the Imperial shares, but he had heard this through others. There was another man though, in Paeroa, who Long Moore had accused of being concerned in the loss of his shares and Long Moore had some time ago threatened to shoot that man.

Clement ‘Long’ Moore was in 1901 a grizzled and elderly man. But back in 1873 he had cut a dashing and powerful figure.  He was employed by the armed constabulary to escort gold.  At  the camp at Owharoa he was the tallest in the group of 30 or 40 men. Constable Clement Moore, along with Constables Mick Cleary and Jeff’s, escorted the first gold return from the old Waitekauri battery.  The return amounted to 900 ozs and was taken on pack horses via the old Constabulary Road, through Paeroa to Thames.

Long Moore soon tired of soldiering though and donning moleskins, took to the ordinary life of a digger. His work still stood in the district - two old tunnels opening onto the tramway between Mr Cooper and Pocock's houses were part of his All Nations claim.  The tunnels were so high “that even now they tell the story of the man of six foot six inches who hewed them out of rock”, said the Thames Star admiringly.

Unsuccessful in his diggings Long Moore moved to Karangahake about 1885. He became a large shareholder in the Talisman mine and over his 20 years in the district dabbled extensively and profitability in mining.  His later ventures though, notably the Imperial, failed.  

Long Moore lived the life of a hatter  - a man who kept to himself, living and working alone, perhaps  a misfit, perhaps just happy in his own company, perhaps believing only he knew where to find gold.  Living apart from the rest of his fellows seems to have caused him to brood over his losses. He had once been known to have a warm heart and full pocket both of which he was generous with.

He came from County Tyrone, Ireland and was from a well connected family – one brother being an Anglican clergyman. He was a single man and had no relatives in the colony.  Lately he had been somewhat morose and gruff in his manner.  His hut was found to be in a filthy condition, showing signs of absolute want when inspected by the police.

Nine days after the shooting an adjourned inquest into the death of Clement Moore was held.  Samuel, although recovering well, was unable to leave the hospital so the coroner and jury heard his evidence there. Clement ‘Long’ Moore was found to have died from a “wound self inflicted with a revolver.” He was buried at Shortland cemetery, the marker to his grave now long gone. 

The fortunes of his intended victim Samuel Howard were never very good.   Samuel had arrived in Thames a young unmarried man in September of 1844 from Kawakawa.
He found work In the Caledonian Low Level Mine.  Two months later he was working with  two other men  and, instead of fixing a candle under a fuse and retreating before it had ‘spitted’ (caught) –they  lit the fuse instead.  The first charge exploded knocking all three down as the debris from the remaining shots flew over them.  Samuel Howard’s left hand was so badly smashed that the thumb and first finger had to be amputated. In January 1885 Samuel was discharged from hospital, convalescent.

He then took to hotel keeping in a building named the All Nations, by chance the same name as the claim of his nemesis, Long Moore.
The hotel though was not a success and it was not long before Samuel went to Karangahake and took charge of the Imperial Mine and the paths of Long Moore and Samuel Howard crossed.  Samuel later returned to Thames, becoming licensee of the Royal Hotel.

Nineteen months after the shooting, in July 1903, Samuel was in bed at the Royal Hotel with a cold when a housemaid, seeing some sparks fall from the dining room ceiling, discovered that the woodwork around the chimney was on fire. Samuel tried to tackle the outbreak but the room above the dining room was full of smoke and the floor was alight.
There was time to warn all the guests and remove a large quantity of furniture but the wooden building, being dry, quickly became a mass of flames. The fire brigade brought several jets of water to bear on the burning building.  Fortunately the evening was calm and the flames did not spread to adjoining buildings although sparks set fire to the roof of Mr Dunbar’s hairdressing shop 200 yards down Brown Street.
Very little was saved from the upper storey of the hotel -  most of the boarders and servants belongings were destroyed. The devastating fire had originated through a defective chimney flue in the kitchen.

The hotel was rebuilt and re-opened during 1904/1905 with Samuel as the sub-lessee.  But Samuel was not well.   After ailing for six months he became a patient at the hospital staying there for three months.  He was still hopeful of a recovery but a sudden change for the worse set in and he died one March evening in 1905 at the age of 45.

Samuel left the Royal Hotel for the final time after his fellow members of the Lodge Corinthian, sombre in black dress and white gloves, assembled at the hotel to pay a last tribute of respect to their late brother. He was buried at Shortland cemetery with representatives of local bodies and mining companies in attendance. 

Samuel, “very largely known both in Thames and up-country”, left a widow, Nellie, and three sons.

Seven years later Nellie was living in Auckland.  She was now landlady of the Greerton Private Hotel in Upper Queen Street. Two of her sons, Sidney aged  26, and Samuel Harold aged 17, lived with her.  Nellie had been the lessee of the Greerton for the past five years and had not re-married. Sidney, a single man,  was a clerk at the Auckland railway station booking office.

 On the night 5 November 1912, in an uncanny replay of the past, a housemaid discovered a fire after waking  about 1.45 am to crackling noises and the smell of smoke.  She called to the two other girls who shared her ground floor room and they ran into the passage calling “Fire.” 

 By now the staircase to the top floor were Samuel slept was in flames.   His bedroom was directly under the fiercest part of the fire.  He rushed out onto the balcony about 20 feet from the ground.  He was surrounded by flames, his escape totally cut off.  A policeman observed the flames between Samuel and the fire escape and felt his only chance was to jump.  He was seen throwing clothes to the ground and was subsequently found lying huddled across a handrail on a lower balcony.  He was unconscious when picked up and died in hospital about 4.30 the next morning. 

Poor Nellie Howard was noted as being “beside herself with distraction” and “too grief stricken to be approached” by reporters, which went without saying given the tragic bad luck and death that followed the family from those days at Thames.

Armed Constabulary gold escorts were established to prevent hold-ups between goldfields and towns.
The Royal Hotel was also known as the Theatre Royal Hotel and Hotel Royal. The hotel still stands and is now in private hands.
It is purportedly haunted - could it be Samuel Howard and Clement ‘Long’ Moore still settling their differences?


Samuel Howard – taken at the time he was Imperial Mine manager.
(Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A9329)

Thames illustrated mining map with claims marked inland from Tararu, Grahamstown and Shortland.  An advertisement for the All Nations Hotel is one of those depicted in the border.

(Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries,  NZ Map 4531)

The Royal Hotel today.


Thames Star 19 October 1903

Sources:  Papers Past; ‘Diggers, Hatters & Whores’ (S Eldred-Grigg); Althea Barker -

© Meghan Hawkes and Dead Cert, 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment