Zeitblick / Das Online-Magazin der HillAc - März 2005 - Nr. 9

City, My City

Part 1
The Thistle Inn

The Thistle Inn is New Zealand's oldest surviving tavern and Wellington's oldest, still operational, pub. Today many patrons enjoy its hospitality completely unaware of the significance of its wooden floorboards, its low sash windows and its location, perched on a small rise at the foot of Mulgrave Street near Wellington's Central Business District.

In 1840, when the original tavern was built, the sea lapped at the beach just below its front door and the slight hill on which the tavern now stands was then much lower. Subsequent earthquakes, particularly the magnitude 8.2 earthquake of 1855, and land reclamation has raised the shoreline and moved it several city blocks further away. Stories are told of the early days when Maori chiefs, particularly Te Rauparaha, drew their canoes up on the beach at the front door stopping in for a quick dram before venturing out on a raiding party.

Destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1866, the diminutive Thistle Inn has stood in modest splendour on the same spot for the last 165 years. From its wide front windows it has watched a cavalcade of Wellington's history pass by and rubbed shoulders with politicians, felons and the famous characters of New Zealand history. Today, protected by a Category One Preservation Order it is still popular with local office workers for a lunchtime break and in the evening still resonates to the sounds of talk and laughter and the clink of glasses.

1/1-006735;G - Thorndon Quay and Mulgrave Street, Wellington
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand,
must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

The picture shows the intersection of Thorndon Quay and Mulgrave Street, Thorndon, Wellington, in 1866. From left to right are: a painting and paperhanging shop, Warcup´s plumbing business and the Thistle Inn. St Pauls Church is on the right. Photograph taken by William Henry Whitmore Davis.

© Peter Wells, Wellington, New Zealand