Thorndon’s quite the place to be you know. Apart from being riven in two by a motorway, squashed sideways into the base of a heavy tree-clad hill, beset with a massive supermarket carpark at its heart, and lived in by some of the plutiest snobs that Wellington has seen, it’s all actually quite nice. Some of Wellington’s best writers lived there, and some of the worst ones still do.

But there is an eyesore that is troubling the residents, above and beyond such other eyesores such as the American Embassy, the abortion of a supermarket carpark, the ugly lumpy tower of the Police Association, the row of non-descript office towers etc: yes, its the Thorndon Tavern. Despite having such a captive population, and such a choice location, the owners (the Thai Embassy apparently), were happy to leave the former Tavern to rot for 20 years or more, becoming a terrible temptation for taggers to target. And when a Thorndonite is spurned into action, of course being a community of writers, they take action the only way they know how: yes, a Letter to the Editor: I’ve been noting these letters in the paper for a few months now.

Abandoned pub is an eyesore.
Am I the only one concerned at the eyesore that was once the Thorndon Tavern in Wellington’s Molesworth St? The building is clearly derelict and would look more at home in a Detroit slum than it does in a suburb in central Wellington. It’s been vacant for many years and, from the filth that now surrounds it, the broken, boarded-up windows and widespread graffiti, it’s been the overnight home for the homeless and a sizeable pigeon population for some time. The building is a blot on the local landscape and the local bodies should take steps to ensure the property’s owners, whomever they are, take steps to either demolish it or clean it up.
R LUTMAN Paraparaumu.


Beautifully timed was R Lutman, as almost the very next day the Thai Embassy explained that they were indeed looking at a new building for the site, but not before Janet Hood of Thorndon had her say

Some questions for Thai embassy.The owner of the decrepit, insanitary eyesore that is now the Thorndon Tavern is, I believe, the Thai Government, which bought a thriving business 20 years ago, closed it, and left the building to rot. Wellington City Council cannot force upkeep, because the building is now Thai territory. This is land-banking at its worst and the Thai embassy should be aware of Wellingtonians’ disgust and distaste for it, aggravated by Thailand’s status as a friendly nation. I suggest that the Thai Government, if it doesn’t want the building, gifts it to the city. Wellington is not a Bangkok property slum and I’d be interested, as would the thousands who work and live in the area, in a full explanation from the Thais about their government’s appalling loss of face.

Ouch, Ms Hood. That aimed a bit low: but at least it did have the desired effect. It seems that the Thai Embassy is indeed raising its head, taking notice, and has decided to do something. And perhaps amazingly, it seems as though the answer may not be the normal one of “knock it down and start again” that they first wanted to do. I say this because a sign has appeared on the corner of the site: “Thai Embassy Refurbishment Project”. Which gives me hope that it may not, after all, be torn down and started again. Hooray and well done Thailand.

The architect, Colin Gunter, was the NZ Breweries architect, responsible for a number of solid concrete ‘Brutalist’ bars around the country, including the Cricketer’s Arms (now Happy, Club Garibaldi, Latinos bar) and also the nearby NZ Brewery building in Thorndon. There were proposals to replace the building with a tower, with one designed by Craig Craig & Moller, as noted here in Wellurban. There have also been some fairly long and drawn out discussions with the heritage lobby, I’m sure, as the good and bad points of the current building and the proposed development have been debated. While the Tav has been closed longer than I can remember, all I can do is admire the outside, especially the wonderful external staircase. Anyway, it shouldn’t be too long before we find out exactly what has been resolved: we at the Fish, and no doubt the rest of Thorndon, are keen to see what is proposed.