Effort to fix historic hotel after fire

Gutted. There is only one word for it after an overnight fire crippled the 156-year-old Ancient Briton Hotel in Naseby yesterday.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but it has left its owners devastated and with an untimely cleanup job ahead of what would have been a busy summer period.

The hotel’s publican, Adrian Hood, said it would not be a quick job to get the site up and running again.

‘‘I’m just gutted,’’ he said.

‘‘This time of year, it’s important for Naseby to have something open.’’

The Ancient Briton is one of the country’s oldest hotels and dates back to the area’s gold rush era.

Fire investigator Mark Bredenbeck assesses damage to the communal area at Naseby’s Ancient Briton Hotel yesterday. Photo: Adam Burns
Fire investigator Mark Bredenbeck assesses damage to the communal area at Naseby’s Ancient Briton Hotel yesterday. Photo: Adam Burns
The cleanup of the 1863 building, which had been extensively damaged in the blaze, was in full motion yesterday as Fire and Emergency New Zealand investigators assessed the site.

Fire risk management officer Scott Lanauze said investigators were still assessing a few things but they believed the cause to be accidental.

Two hotel employees were in the building at the time of the blaze and escaped uninjured, Mr Hood said.

He was notified of the fire at 1am yesterday.

‘‘You could see the flames which started at the back of the hotel.’’

The accommodation complex remained unaffected as it was part of a separate building, Mr Hood said.

He and his partner, Jan Rutherford, who also own the Royal Hotel on Earne St, have leased the historic pub since 2013.

Its Auckland-based owner, Roch Sullivan, said it was a very sad day.

‘‘It is a shock to everyone ... there’s a lot of history and memorabilia in the pub.

‘‘It is a special hub for that part of the world.

‘‘There’s a lot of people who will be feeling it.’’

He said the pub would likely be closed for some time as rebuild plans are worked through.

One silver lining of the tragedy was the salvage of mementos including Central Otago curling trophies and photographs from inside the building, he said.

Mr Sullivan bought the site in 2003 from Naseby resident Stuart Hore.

Mr Hore said the historic building had probably ‘‘had more snow damage than anything else in the past’’.

adam.burns@odt.co.nz

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