One of the buildings damaged in the storm yesterday was the famous Revingtons Hotel in Greymouth. The mayor, Tony Kokshoorn, apparently has said today ‘I am calling for the demolition of Revingtons Hotel. A large part of the roof has come off it and for health and safety reasons I want the demolition brought forward fast. There’s a massive problem now. With the roof gone, the rest of the roof is exposed to any wind that could get under it’.
The building as it is today, after the storm, having lost its roof and verandah
Revingtons was built in 1938, in the Spanish Mission style, on the site of a previous hotel, the Post Office Hotel, built in 1876, where this sensational picture below was taken.
The new stylish Spanish Mission hotel, with its 45 bedrooms, was a significant asset to the town, and had many famous visitors. When the new hotel opened in 1938 it was advertised as ‘The Most Modern Hotel in the South Island’.
The Press said after its opening:
NEW STANDARD OF COMFORT AND SERVICE The new Revingtons Hotel, Greymouth, was opened yesterday. The foyer, 32 feet by 24 feet, is of striking design, panelled throughout in walnut and Australian blackwood, and is heavily carpeted, as is the main stairway. The main lounge is body-carpeted and furnished in artistic fashion, as, indeed, is the whole of the building. The 45 bedrooms are very spacious and body-carpeted in rose, green, and fawn, with the latest furniture and fittings throughout. Hot and cold running water is in every bedroom. Self-contained suites with private bathrooms are obtainable. The dining-room, 50 feet by 24 feet, one of the features of the hotel, is carpeted throughout and furnished with handsome walnut buffets and chairs, and beech tables.
The hotel’s most famous visitor was the young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, when they visited New Zealand in 1954. The Queen stayed the night in the hotel in January 1954, and address the crowds from the balcony. The main image above is her Daimler waiting for her the next morning, which took her to the special royal train, on to her next destination, Darfield then Christchurch.
Pat Jamieson recorded on the NZ History website about their visit:
I was 11 years old and the Queen and Duke were driving down High Street in Greymouth. The crowds were very thick and I wiggled to the front just as their car was passing, the Queen smiled at me and I was hooked. An instant avid royalist. I then ran alongside the car for about half a mile at which time the Duke of Edinburgh looked across and said, ‘If you run much further, you will burst’. Well I was just totally blown away.
That evening practically the entire population was gathered outside Revington’s Hotel where the Royal couple were staying, calling ‘We want the Queen’. Then as soon as everything went quiet this little eleven year old stood and yelled at the top of her voice. ‘I want the Duke’. The Royal Couple came out onto the balcony and waved and the crowd went wild, especially me – I was totally convinced the Duke only came out because I called for him to do so.
The Royal Train menu from their journey the next day, Archives New Zealand.
Revingtons in better days, image by Stef, from Flikr, 2003, CC license.
As well as a place for visitors to stay in Greymouth, like all New Zealand hotels and pubs it was a place of community for the locals for five decades, and an important part of the street-scape of the town. Looking on a local West Coast website today, the memories have been flooding in, about concerts and sneaking out the back to evade the police after hours, and being ‘the best place in town’. Many are urging that its preservation be attempted. One cheeky commentator asked ‘Bloody hell where will the Queen stay now?’
According to the Otago Daily Times last year, the building had been sold to an overseas owner in 2013, who subsequently closed it and allowed it to rapidly deteriorate. By 2017 the building had been taken over by squatters. It has been listed as a historic building by Heritage New Zealand since 1989.
Main image of the hotel and the Daimler: West Coast NZ History website, contributed by Richard Armstrong. There are lots of other images of the hotel on this excellent website collecting photos from West Coasters.