The Beaver or Beavertown is a noteworthy feature in Marlborough’s Brayshaw Heritage Park. It’s a replica village constructed in 1960, way back when the idea of historical collections in a heritage park first came to be. The founder of the heritage park is Norman Brayshaw. The people behind its construction are members and volunteers of a group incorporated in 1955, the Marlborough Historical Society.
It’s a sight to behold, especially for history buffs. Not known to many is that it’s the location of the Battle of Blenheim where troops (including those led by John Churchill) defeated French forces. By spending an hour or two in the replica village, history buffs can take a trip down memory lane.
The people who pushed for Beavertown’s construction are history buffs themselves. From their perspective, it’s essential to show the original or untampered history of a place, which is why they intended to show the ins and outs of Blenheim “as they are” and not influence an audience’s understanding of it. This is one reason why they decided to construct a replica village, so people can have a firsthand experience of the history of Blenheim, instead of merely providing descriptions of it in books.
What gives Beavertown a notable significance is its accuracy. Like other replicas of villages in New Zealand, it does a magnificent job of replicating the street scene that shows the life in the town of Blenheim back in the 1900s. Commercial buildings, shoe shops, hotels, and other establishments are precisely where they’re supposed to be. Anyone who wishes to experience what life was like in the old days is invited to check Beavertown.
Beavertown is also where one will find working stables. And in there are beautiful horses, considered a significant attraction of the town. Because one of the first arrivals, a Canadian adventurer who went to meet friends, got to the destination on horseback, horses and horseback riding are meaningful to Blenheim and Marlborough’s history. To keep up with the times, new elements are regularly added to the replica village. Lately, in 2020, visitors will catch Stuart the Horse in action, making the children smile with his usual tricks.
It also gives a nod to the historical role of Blenheim in New Zealand by its use of the word “beaver”. Known to many, a beaver is the town’s official mascot, which stays true even though an actual beaver was never seen. Residents use the word as a reference to Marlborough’s tendency to flood and a way of acknowledging how beavers, in general, play a pivotal role in preventing floods from damaging homes. Sometimes, the term “Beavertown” is confused with the early nicknames of Blenheim, such as “Beaverton” and “Beaver Station”.