Submitted by admin on April 23, 2009 - 01:29
The Timaru Orange Riots, 1879
The Timaru riots of 1879 were caused by the traditional hostility between Irish religious factions. The local Orange Lodge had announced its intention of joining a procession of friendly societies on Boxing Day. The landlord of the Hibernian Hotel arranged for Catholics from the district to come to Timaru that day to oppose the march. Police reinforcements were brought in from Christchurch but were unable to prevent the Orangemen from being besieged in the Foresters' Hall. A Magistrate read the Riot Act but the crowd did not disperse until after the Orangemen had taken off their regalia and had renounced their intention of marching through town.
While this riot took place in Timaru, with most of the Christchurch police in attendance, an Orange procession was attacked in Christchurch outside the Borough Hotel and several Orangemen were badly injured. Feeling was very tense in both towns during the next days. Police had to protect the Borough Hotel which angry crowds threatened to wreck, while Timaru was guarded by strong police and military forces brought in from Wellington and Dunedin.
There were no further serious incidents. Early in 1880, 14 of those involved in the Christchurch assault were sent to prison. The Timaru rioters, thanks to a vigorous defence by Robert (later Sir) Stout, escaped with being bound over, the landlord of the Hibernian Hotel alone being fined £100.