Here's the ultimate man cave

'I have an English pub in my shed'

Last updated 13:01 04/04/2014
English Pub
Doug Richardson

BACK TO BLIGHTY: A converted stable in the back garden of this North Canterbury property makes the perfect spot for a pint and a packet of pork scratchings.

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Tucked away down a driveway in North Canterbury is a little slice of English life. 

A wooden sign stating "The Bike and Bovine" sways in the breeze by a tranquil pond. Walk around the corner and you're at the main entrance of a private pub. Inside, horse brasses adorn the wall and a low ceiling gives a cosy feel. In the corner, a brick and wooden bar proudly displays old-fashioned beer taps. Wooden benches and tables run along the walls and smaller tables and chairs dot the centre of the room. 

It is like being transported into an old, English country pub, but this isn't the hideaway of some homesick Brit. Instead, it's the DIY work of Kiwi Shaun Maloney. 

It all began back in 2000, when Shaun was offered a job in the United Kingdom. Along with his wife, Claire, and their four children, they decided to treat it as "a late OE". While there, they fell in love with the concept of the old English pub.

"It was very uncommon to go to people's houses. Instead, you met at the pub. The pub wasn't about drinking, but about the community," Shaun says.

On their return to North Canterbury, they set about converting an old stable block on their property into a pub. The idea was to use it for family and friends and the local community. The work started in earnest in 2005, Shaun says. It was completed last November in a stint that involved lots of late nights as he rushed to get it finished in time for his company's Christmas do.   

The details make this little piece of England. From a ceiling beam hang pewter tankards, some of them dating back to the 1700s. Music is piped in through old-fashioned radios, which function as speakers.

The Maloneys found many of these items at car-boot sales or dumps while in the UK. Other items have come from Trade Me or been lucky finds. 

The project has clearly been well researched, as demonstrated by a separate room called "the snug". Apparently, in pre-war English pubs, it would be common to have a more private room, in which ladies might drink.

This snug has panelled walls, giving it a warm feel. Old leather-bound books line the walls. They were secured by Shaun when he worked as a cleaner, aged 15, at an Auckland law court. He liked the look of the books he found in storage and asked if he could keep them. More than 30 years later, he finally has a place to display them.

"I'm a typical bloke with a shed full of junk," Shaun says with a laugh. 

All the work has been done by Shaun himself, with the exception of the brickwork, for which he hired a bricklayer. 

What advice would Shaun give to others embarking on such projects? "Don't take shortcuts and don't throw anything away."

The pub is, unfortunately for fans of English pubs, not open to the public.

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