Beach kiosk celebrates a century
A century after its controversial opening Cheltenham Beach's iconic kiosk is still one of Devonport's gems.
The kiosk, now McHugh's of Cheltenham, has evolved from the tearooms and changing facilities of its early years to a popular venue for weddings, functions and community get-togethers.
This month it will celebrate its 100th birthday.
For John McHugh, who's been at the helm for over 30 years, it's been a labour of love and the site of many special memories.
His parents Patrick and Kathleen were married at the kiosk in 1950 and his sister Joan was married there in the 1980s beneath swathes of hanging flower baskets.
When Mr McHugh took over the lease of the building in 1981 there was some serious work to be done and he says he was lucky to have such a supportive family.
"My mother, armed with all her fantastic dessert recipes, became totally involved in the day-to-day running of our kitchen, while Pat [dad] concentrated on business advice, and the extended family became staff," he says.
Celebrating the establishment's 100th birthday is more about celebrating 100 years of its history, says Mr McHugh.
He's commissioned a booklet which tells the story of the kiosk from those first controversial years.
It was in 1909 that a kiosk and bathing facilities at Cheltenham Beach were first proposed, but the proposal was fiercely resisted by locals who did not want their rates spent on a facility for visitors.
The council conducted a poll and the objectors were defeated by a mere 15 votes.
So in 1913, the council spent £1200 to build tearooms, bathing sheds and conveniences and the ribbon was cut by mayor William Handley on August 13.
A newspaper report of the opening describes the interior's green wallpaper with a seascape frieze and green granite linoleum.
For sixpence, it says, bathers would be provided with a bathing suit and towel, and one hour's use of a cubicle.
Later the kiosk began to offer entertainment such as dancing and jazz bands with "Miss Beresford's top class dancing school" regularly putting on dance nights.
And in 1925 the council installed high-powered spotlights to allow night bathing at the beach, a popular attraction.
These days Mr McHugh and his team have a busy schedule of buffet lunches, prize-givings, meetings and weddings.
All this with a backdrop of Rangitoto and a tucked-away beach that is just as beautiful as 100 years ago.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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