Punters needed to save historic pub
The Nelson Hotel has reopened after being closed for a month.
Aaron McNaughton, the 32-year-old owner of the 160-year-old pub, says to save the building and the pub he needs punters to come in the door.
The hotel on the corner of Bridge and Collingwood Sts is famed as the first meeting place for New Zealand’s first rugby club.
Mr McNaughton, a drainlayer, bought the property for $650,000 last year as an investment.
The pub has had a succession of businesses owners and Mr McNaughton said the latest surrendered it to him on Friday after it had been closed for four weeks. He reopened it on Monday.
""I wasn’t going to reopen, I was going to keep it closed but it seems a waste," he said. "I don’t know what else to do – make it a carpark?" Next door on Collingwood St another historic building which used to be the city’s needle exchange and more recently an art gallery was demolished in April to make way for a new commercial building.
Mr McNaughton reckons the pub’s rent is one of the cheapest in town but overheads such as $16,000 rates and $27,000 insurance are big costs.
"Between the insurance and the rates they’re more expensive than the lease," he said.
Still he’s keen to make a go of it and add to the pub’s special rugby character. He’s appealing to anyone who may have copies of photos that used to hang on the walls depicting its history to get in touch.
It was at the hotel that a public meeting was held on May 30 1868 to form the Nelson Football Club, which in 1870 changed its name to the Nelson Rugby Football Club.
Mr McNaughton, who used to play for Waimea Old Boys, refurbished the pub last year highlighting its rugby heritage.
The memorabilia was later taken down but this week he’s put it back, including a photo he found in the cellar showing the hotel with horse and cart outside.
The hotel still has short-term accommodation for between $120 and $150 a week.
What do you think Nelson's motto should be?Related story: (See story)