Owners 'very hopeful' fire-damaged Speight's building will reopen by August

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 26, 2024

Almost 12 months on from the blaze that destroyed Queenstown's Speight's Ale House, it's expected pints will be poured again by late winter.

Warren Cooper, who owns the historic building along with wife Lorraine Cooper, says he is satisfied with the reconstruction's progress after council gave its consent in December.

"We're happy to have it done as quickly as possible, we are very hopeful... [that] it will open by August."

The reconstruction of the Speight's Ale House in Queenstown is being undertaken by Naylor Love.

Mr Warren says as per their resource consent, which required assessment by Heritage New Zealand, the building will look "exactly the same" on the inside as it did prior to the March 19 blaze.

Project manager Chris Baines of Naylor Love says the concrete has been poured inside the Stanley Street building, and the team will start constructing the roof next week.

"Once we got consent from heritage and council in December, we pressed go and got it all going."

Mr Baines says there are few things that need to be "aligned" first, with the building owners and the Speight's publicans, but he's happy with progress on the build, and agrees, all going to plan, it will reopen at the end of August. 

After the roof is on, Mr Baines say the team will move inside, where there are timber floors to lay, walls to go up and painting to do, as well as plumbing and electrical work. 

Then they'll finish with the "nitty gritty" work of fitting out the bar and commercial kitchen for the Speight's publican Clark Frews.

The building began its life as the council chambers, and collaboration with Heritage New Zealand was required before the latest re-invention could start.

Last year's early morning fire was caused by an electrical fault in a kitchen duct, and required six fire trucks and up to 60 volunteer firefighters to be put out. 

Heavy smoke coming from the Speight's Ale House on the day of the fire last March.

The blaze caused the surrounding area in the Queenstown CBD to come to a standstill, with road closures on Stanley and Ballarat Streets as firefighters worked for hours to contain the fire.

People in a neighbouring building were evacuated as a precaution. 

Main image (Supplied/Chris Baine): Repairs are underway inside the fire-damaged Speight's Ale House on Stanley Street.

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