Take a tour of MacKay’s Whanganui, as explored in Paul Diamond’s new book Downfall


The publication of Paul Diamond’s new book Downfall: The Destruction of Charles MacKay is leading many to see Whanganui’s history in a new light. Read Peter Dragicevich’s story here:

‘It's an extraordinary story, that of the dynamic mayor of Whanganui sentenced to hard labour for the attempted murder of a young man who was threatening to reveal his homosexuality. And it doesn't stop there. Paul Diamond's new book Downfall follows controversial mayor Charles Mackay's tragic and eventful life to its dramatic conclusion in Weimar-era Berlin.

The shooting happened in 1920 and if there ever was a city to transport you back to that era, it is Whanganui. Much of the central city's Victorian and Edwardian streetscape has been preserved — although, these days, many of the heritage buildings are embellished with street art.

Mackay wasn't top of mind when this trip was booked, so it was a happy coincidence to be staying at the Rutland Arms Inn, which features prominently in the saga. It was here that Mackay had a dinner date with the man who, a few days later, would attempt to blackmail him, unemployed returned serviceman and middling poet, Walter D'Arcy Cresswell. Founded in 1849 but rebuilt after a series of fires, this atmospheric pub also has a more genteel claim to fame, having hosted the Queen Mother in 1966. These days it offers comfortable rooms over a popular bar decorated with antlers, horse brasses, vintage beer coasters and historic photos of the town.’


Read the full story here.