Mayor takes regalia to the grave

04:21, Oct 23 2010

Descendants of a former Christchurch mayor and prominent publican will gather in the city this weekend.

Ninety relatives of Michael Brannan Hart will hold a reunion that will look back on his colourful life.

Great-great-great-granddaughter Sally Thomas said Hart arrived in Lyttelton with his wife, Mary Ann, on the Cressy in 1850 and established Christchurch's first hotel, the White Hart, in High St.

Hart was elected to the Christchurch City Council in 1869 and won the mayoralty four years later.

Thomas said Hart was the first Christchurch mayor to wear full regalia. He had a copy of the robes worn by the lord mayor of London made for him at his own cost.

"He intended to leave these to the city, but following a tiff with the council he altered his will, with the result that the fine mayoral robes of Michael Brannan Hart lie with him in his grave at the Barbadoes St cemetery," she said.

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Hart gave land to the city for its first town hall.

His first wife died aged 53 in 1866 and is buried in the Addington Cemetery in an unmarked grave. Hart married Ellen Gardner two months later, and the couple had seven children. Hart died in 1878 aged 64.

His first son, George Robert Brannan Hart, was editor of The Press for many years and his son, Frank Hart, was editor of the Timaru Herald for a week .

Thecelebrations will include a reunion dinner at Christchurch Boys' High School tonight and a picnic at Abberley Park tomorrow.

The Press