Board of publicans take place of pride

Barry O’Shaughnessy, owner of the iconic The Prospect of Howick. Photo Wayne Martin

Barry O’Shaughnessy, owner of the iconic The Prospect of Howick that also houses The Good Home Restaurant and Bar was a bit teary-eyed when he opened his Christmas present.

Barry always wanted to have a record in place of the publicans.

“The project started four to five years ago but then was lying in the bottom of the drawer,” Barry said.

“I am so grateful when Donna took over the paperwork and research to contact people and get the required information,” he says of the board of publicans that has been created for posterity.

Donna Holdem who has worked in the restaurant for 13 years and now manages the accommodation at The Prospect of Howick, presented Barry with a beautifully polished board complete with the Coat of Arms, listing the Publicans since 1894. The gift is a piece of history that now takes pride of place at The Good Home restaurant and bar. It traces the names of the publicans and pub owners of the Marine Hotel in Picton Street, which was renamed The Prospect of Howick.

Donna says that the Board of Publicans was meant to be a precursor to Barry’s 65th Birthday in October but ended up being a Christmas present.

“It was fun trying to jog people’s memories of the place, quite a few stories were revealed from some of the locals, probably not for publication though,” she says.

Long hours and days went into researching the rich history of the place with the help from a few people with great knowledge in the historical aspect and from working at Lion Nathan.

“It was equally exciting when one of our regulars mentioned that their grandfather was one of the publicans in 1926.”

Interestingly, the first Marine Hotel was built for George Sellwood in 1894 and was designed by one of Auckland’s leading architects Edward Bartley. Unfortunately, the hotel burnt down in 1927 when a maid ironing a dress (for the first time with an electric iron) left it on. The day after the fire, a temporary bar was set up under canvas next to the smouldering ruins for local patrons.

In 1927 construction began and by 1928 James Fletcher had built a new brick building at the current location. The newly constructed Marine Hotel was described as “licensed, first-class cuisine, tariff three pounds ten shillings a week or twelve shillings a day.”

The Marine Hotel has had many generations walk through those door including Nobel Prize winner and famous writer George Bernard Shaw [b1856-d1950] staying at the hotel in 1934.

The Prospect of Howick replaced the name Marine Hotel in 1977 when NZ Breweries (later Lion Breweries) became the owners and it moved away from the so-called ‘booze barn’ to an English style pub, reflecting Howick’s fencible, soldier-settler history.

Barry became Publican in 1993 and by 2007 had refurbished the restaurant and bar area which was aptly renamed GBS after George Bernard Shaw. In 2014 he redesigned the place to create a vibrant modern restaurant and bar named The Good Home Howick.

In 2019 Barry decided to renovate the old hotel rooms on the upper level back into accommodation again. Rest assured, they have now got a handle on the ironing so no need to worry about another fire!

As one scrolls down the names of publicans, it’s easy to spot that Barry has been the proud owner of the vibrant restaurant and bar for the longest term–over 26 years! He did, however, have another job back in 1978 as chef when it was the Marine Hotel.

Next time you are at The Good Home, do have a look at the Honours Board in the bar area.