Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

04 November 2009

Revington’s, Greymouth

I wrote and illustrated ‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’. It was published in 1995 and was a snapshot of some New Zealand pubs as they were at the end of the 20th century. I have decided to share some of the entries from the book from time to time on this blog

I have a confession to make: back in 1961, long before the present proprietors owned Revingtons, my wife and I stayed there one freezing winter weekend, having foolhardedly crossed the mountains from Christchurch in deteriorating weather. We were dismayed to find that the tap on the gas fire in our bedroom was padlocked. A notice advised that the lock would be undone upon payment of half-a-crown (25 cents). I was affronted at such parsimony and promptly picked the lock with a hairpin. I have felt vaguely guilty ever since; but I feel better now that I have told you.

It’s a splendid pub and I thoroughly enjoyed drawing it in its new livery; it is much cherished by its present owners, the Dalzells.

Its ancestry is traced to a hotel built opposite the Greymouth post office by John William Oliver in 1876 which, predictably, he called the Post Office Hotel. Twenty years later - by which time Greymouth had become respectable and was known more for its coal than the rough and tumble of its goldfields - it was purchased by Captain W. D. Revington who added his name to its title.

But ‘Revington’s Post Office Hotel’ must have been such a mouthful, and West Coasters are generally people of few words (well chosen, usually) inevitably it became ‘Revington’s’ which, I think, has quite a ring to it. I’m told that the locals shorten it even further, to ‘Revvies’, which tends to knock the top off any attempt at grandeur.

The first Revingtons was a fine looking hotel but it was replaced in 1938 by this art deco style building with its Spanish tiles, built by the owners of the day, Allan and Margaret Marshall. They must have had a presentiment that, one day, Royalty would grace the pub for they incorporated that fine balcony. From its double doors, below the flagstaff, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh waved to the loyal Greymouth crowd when they paid a visit on 18 January 1954.


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By Don Donovan