Chat around the Fire
Revingtons Hotel, Greymouth
The most recent version of Revingtons Hotel was built in 1938 and was located in Greymouth’s central business district at 45-49 Tainui Street.
It was historically significant as one of the West Coast’s leading hotel establishments. The hotel has recently been demolished and the site prepared for a new development.
The ancestry of Revingtons Hotel can be traced to a timber hotel built on this site by John William Oliver in 1876 called the Post Office Hotel. It was taken over by Tom Jones in circa 1885. In the mid 1890s, the hotel was purchased by William Daly Revington, who added his name to its title to become ‘Revington’s Post Office Hotel’, shortened to ‘Revingtons’.
Revington made large additions to the hotel building. In 1901, it was described as being ‘probably the quietest, most dignified and generally excellent establishment … [it is] far above what would be generally expected in a town the size of Greymouth’.
At this time, it was a two storied structure with a large balcony overlooking the thoroughfare, and comprised about 25 bedrooms, as well as apartments. On the ground floor was a large dining room, billiard room, commercial room, four sitting rooms, pantry, kitchen and servants rooms. A major flood in 1936 saw waters rising high enough for the chairs in the dining room to float around. It is possible that this event led to the decision to replace the hotel a year later.
In 1938, the owners of the day, Allan and Margaret Marshall, replaced the original hotel building with a new Spanish Mission-Art Deco style building. The architects were the Christchurch firm of Collins & West. Two stories in height and V-shaped in plan, this replacement hotel building had a ceramic tiled roof. The main façade fronted Tainui Street and contained a central entrance leading to the hotel’s foyer, with a balcony at the centre above. Smaller doorways were located at either end of the west façade’s ground floor, and there were sash windows on both the ground and first floor above. The first-floor balcony doorways were flanked by colonnades and above was an applied decoration in the form of a curved pediment. The central portion of the façade protruded from the main roof line.
Original architectural drawings, dated January 1937, show the layout of the building with its near-triangular footprint. The ground floor contained a central entrance foyer, two bars, bar parlour, commercial room, lounge, dining room and kitchen. A staircase in the foyer led to the first floor which contained 25 bedrooms.
The hotel has had a long history of hosting dignitaries. Probably the most famous guests were Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, who were photographed on 18 January 1954, waving to a large crowd from the hotel’s balcony. (See pic)
While most buildings in downtown Greymouth are on Maori reserve land, Revingtons Hotel was unusual in that an auction in 2008 saw part of the land going into private ownership.