End of the Queen's era

Timaru's oldest pub closes its doors

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2014
Queen’s Hotel.

CALLING TIME: Corrina Worthington and husband Gordie are about to serve their last drinks at the Queen’s Hotel.

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Timaru's oldest pub, the Queen's Hotel, is closing its doors after 139 years.

Corrina and Gordie Worthington have been trying to sell the lease for more than two years, but had no luck, so instead in a "heartbreaking" decision they have decided to close and get on with their lives.

The last day is Saturday, September 20, a day Corrina will be wearing waterproof mascara.

She thinks she could write a book about her eight years there.

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"I've had people streaking through the bar and others with burning newspaper out their bottoms.

"I had a boarder who was tattooing [the whites of] his eyeballs black. He was doing it himself. I thought he had a welding injury but he said he was tattooing them. First they went black then a bright blue. How he did it I don't know."

The Queen's was the oldest pub in Timaru, she said. "It opened circa 1875 and is the oldest pub to still be on its original site."

The customers and staff has been like an extended family, with a busy night seeing up to 50 people in the bar. It has become a regular haunt of the South Canterbury Rugby Referees Association and the Timaru Cricket Club.

"If it wasn't for the customers you wouldn't do it, it will be so sad to see them go. I actually cried when I told the boarders we were closing last week," Worthington said.

"Our oldest customer is 84, we have lost a few [customers] over the last few years as they have passed away."

The hotel had a memorial wall of all the regulars who had died.

Liquor laws had made a publican's life harder, she said.

"The lower driving limit coming in December will make a difference. People wanting to have a jug and drive home will be over the limit. The council costs keep getting more expensive."

Being so close to the Timaru courthouse, it had attracted counsel and defendants alike.

"We had both sides of a gang-related case in once. We had to put one lot in the bar and the other in the dining room."

What will they do now after living onsite in what she describes as a 24-hour operation?

"Have a life, go boating, fishing and camping and spend time with our grandson. I look forward to having a house again."

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- The Timaru Herald

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