Last call for Mavis: Canterbury pub to close while new owner takes over

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Mavis Barton pulls one of her last handles in the Amberley Hotel. Photo: North Canterbury News
Mavis Barton pulls one of her last handles in the Amberley Hotel. Photo: North Canterbury News
It is the end of an era for Mavis Barton as the Amberley Hotel closes down temporarily.

Mavis and her husband Neville, or Chummy as he is known, have sold the pub they have owned for 30 years.

A new owner is taking over and it is believed the doors will stay shut for several months.

Mavis says, barring one day, the pub has never been closed in the three decades they and their family have run and owned it.

“I am going to miss the company. There are always people popping in, and I am so used to looking out the windows and watching everything happening around the town,” she says.

In 1990 they bought into a partnership for the pub, and took over full ownership a few years later.

Aside from eight years living in a house in Amberley, the pub on the corner of Markham Street and Carters Road has been home to Mavis.

Chummy, who suffered a stroke 12 months ago, is now in a rest-home, but once Mavis finds somewhere to live, she hopes to bring him home.

She says she will cherish the memories of the characters visiting the pub, and the many interesting people who stayed in the hotel’s dozen rooms.

She loves playing pool, having never played until the couple bought the hotel.

She says there has never been any trouble at the pub, but it was much harder to do business once new liquor licensing laws were brought in.

Mavis recalls the days when publicans enjoyed a beer behind the bar with patrons. Now, that has become a no-no.

‘‘You are not supposed to have a drink when you are working,’’ she says.

Kojak playing the piano, and Dennis, also known as Dingo, are just two of the patrons that Mavis will miss. She says many regulars stayed in the pub.

When Mavis and Chummy first took over, couples used to frequent the hotel, while the nearby Railway Hotel was for working men.

The hotels used to work in together. One had a band one week, and the other the next.

The world of a publican is vastly different now. Food had become an important component of the business, and prices of alcohol had gone up considerably, Mavis says.

The days of filling half-gallon jars with beer to take home were largely gone, and self-service spirit taps had gone.

‘‘It is a bit sad to see all this going. Chummy expected to die here.

The years have just flown by. ‘‘A lifetime is not very long,’’ says Mavis,
who is known to many as ‘‘mum’’.

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