Birkenhead was little more than a small township of barely 300 when it was described as a “wild and bleak” place by the New Zealand Herald in 1882. That same year, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company purchased 65 hectares of farmland on the harbour shore to be developed into what is known today as the Chelsea Sugar Company. The construction of the refinery attracted hundred of workers who, along with their families, settled in the surrounding area. Once the site of ancient kauri forests, Birkenhead was the location of temporary ‘gum-diggers’ camps. Men and women came from miles around to dig up the lucrative fossilised resin of these trees.
The building in which you sit was constructed in 1907 and was first home to Helby’s Butchery on the main road terminal. The building was to retain this function until it was converted into Cyril Crocombe’s Lime Juice and Onion Factory in the 1950s. It would be another 30 years before it was transformed again. This time it would become a café and restaurant. Ravenhill itself takes its name from this area of Birkenhead Point, as it was known by its early settlers.
We would like you to feel at home and hope you will join us dining in one of Birkenhead’s unique heritage locations.