The old Jubilee Hotel is being demolished to make way for new housing.
The land on which the old hotel and the adjoining Body & Soul fitness centre stand will accommodate 14 new houses.
The property’s Wellington owner, Lloyd Cundy of Jubilee Hotel Developments Ltd, was not prepared to talk much about the project with Ōtaki Today.
“We’re awaiting resource consent with the Kāpiti council, so there’s not much I can tell you” he said.
However, he did say that there would be 14 two-bedroom, single-level houses and that after demolition, work should begin about March or April. The development should be completed by the end of the year. The developer already has consent to demolish the current buildings.
Asked about the historic value of the hotel, Lloyd said extensive modifications had been made over the years and little remained of the original hotel.
The hotel – known simply as The Jube – was built in 1890 for James and Emily Thomas. It had 15 bedrooms, six sitting rooms, a commercial room and dining room that could seat 30 guests.
A gentleman’s club occupied the western part of the building. Two paddocks at the back of the five-acre site accommodated horses and there were four stables. The road on which it was built was named after the hotel – Jubilee Road later being renamed Waerenga Road.
The hotel was where a banquet was held to farewell local troopers bound for the Boer War, and when a chimney caught fire in 1918, it was the first callout for the new Ōtaki Volunteer Fire Brigade.
In 1925, Ben Ling, who occupied an upstairs suite, was watching an auction of the hotel when he leaned on a balcony that collapsed and fell to his death. Ben was an early president and secretary of the Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club.
In the 1970s, the Jubilee boasted Ōtaki’s first nightclub, the Golden Towers. Many local musicians had their first opportunity to play there and it attracted artists such as Eddie Lowe.
After the Central Hotel (where Sunlong is now) burnt down in 1961, the Jubilee was one of the town’s four bustling hotels – the others being the Telegraph, the Family and the Railway.
During the 1950s, Charlie and Marge Honeybone were the publicans. It was home to their daughter, Marlene, from 1953-1957.
Marlene, who now lives in Paihia, says her parents took it over in early 1953 from Tori McFetridge, who still had horses in paddocks out the back, and in the stables.
“It was where I met my future husband, Brian Hancock, as his mother was the cook at the hotel,” she says. “It’s where we got engaged and married.”
Marlene says she once saw “the books” of the hotel that showed the takings were modest from Monday to Saturday, but on Sundays, when it was officially closed, the takings were as much as all the other days of the week put together.
“Folk came up for the day from Wellington on the train, Fields train I think it was called, so they could have a drink or two, and then pour themselves on the train to go back to Wellington that night.
“There was a lot of ‘after-hours’ trading and when the police ‘flying squad’ from Palmerston North were coming for a raid, each publican rang the next hotel down the line, from Shannon, to Levin, to Manakau and to all five Ōtaki hotels, with warnings that they were coming.
“Then everyone scattered – into the horse stables, upstairs and all around the hotel. Afterwards, everyone came out and carried on as before, till all hours.”
Some of the people she recalls were Bob Rogers the barman, a Mr Lambeth who was a permanent boarder and then about 90 years old and quite frail. Barry Walker sometimes played the piano on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Bob McGuigan, after arriving on his tractor, always sat on the same seat in the corner and no one else could sit there . . . ever. Bob’s daughter, Sue Brock, also remembers her father’s favoured bar stool in the corner.
“We had our wedding at the Jubilee, then on to the Old Folks Hall for the dance.”
Neil and Judy Uren took over the Jubilee when the Honeybones moved on about
On hearing about the Jubilee’s demise, Helen MacDonald said on Facebook: “When I was little they used to have monkeys out the back and we had raspberry lemonade out the front in the Morris Oxford.