Historic horse trough mystery yet to be solved

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Fulton Hogan senior bid manager Joe Connolly (left) and Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman Paul Pope sit on an historic concrete horse trough uncovered during a project to widen sections of Portobello Rd. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

An investigation has been launched to solve a mystery of the history of a historic horse trough uncovered on Otago Peninsula.

Fulton Hogan senior bid manager Joe Connolly said Fulton Hogan staff discovered the concrete trough when removing dense vegetation to widen a section of Portobello Rd in Macandrew Bay about six months ago.

Behind the trough was a stone wall.

Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman Paul Pope said the board was seeking information on the history of the trough.

“There is investigation work to be done .. it’s a bit of a mystery which requires more digging.”

Cars were prohibited from Portobello Rd until 1913, he said.

“Everything was horse-drawn until then.”

The trough was in “good condition” and had a black number 14 painted on it.

What the number signified was a mystery.

Maybe the number informed people the miles remaining to reach Taiaroa Head, he said.

The trough was most likely made on site in the late 19th century. Mr Pope speculated on reasons for its location – firstly, its proximity to a freshwater creek to fill the trough.

Secondly, so horses could have a drink before going through a former toll site, further west on Portobello Rd. “The trough is an important structure.”