Officially under way: Pictured outside the Speight’s Ale House building yesterday are, from left, publicans Clark and Rhonda Frew, owner Warren Cooper, and Naylor Love project manager Chris Baines

Excactly nine months after one of Queenstown’s most-loved businesses was devastated by a fire, it took the first proper step towards reopening.

On Tuesday, the first concrete was poured at Speight’s Ale House, marking the beginning of a massive, multi-million-dollar project expected to take until next spring to complete.

About 7am on March 19, a fire started in the kitchen of the historic building on the corner of Stanley and Ballarat Sts, caused by an electrical fault, which travelled up the ducts and into the roof space.

And while 45 volunteer fireys managed to save the building, what was inside was completely destroyed.

The buildings owners — Warren and Lorraine Cooper — initially hoped the pub would be open again by now, but red tape got in the way.

The Coopers, along with son Michael, lodged a consent application for the extensive rebuild in October — as part of that, they had to submit a full heritage assessment by Origin Consultants and a ‘mark-up plan set’, noting heritage features on architectural plans for the 143-year-old building.

Last week, both resource and building consent were approved by Queenstown’s council.

The rebuild’s being handled by Naylor Love, which is wasting no time in cracking on with the project, even bringing forward the concrete pour by a week, starting that work on Tuesday.

Warren’s elated to finally see some action on the site.

‘‘It’s overdue.’’

For his part, publican Clark Frew says it’s been a ‘‘long and tedious’’ year.

‘‘I’m shocked it took nine months to get consent to reinstate what was there.

‘‘[But] if you start a race, you can finish it.’’

He’s also promising a new-look space, being designed by Ignite Architects, when they do finally start pouring pints again.

‘‘It’ll be the same areas, because we can’t change the walls, but it’ll look and feel different.

‘‘We just want a new look and feel, but still in keeping with what it was — when people walk in, they’ll notice it’s not the same old, same old.’’

But Frew says Glenn ‘Scooter’ Reid will still be remembered in the new space.

Reid, one of the pub’s most-loved locals, died from cancer in 2011, aged 40.

‘Scooter’s Corner’ was subsequently established at the end of the bar, including a framed photo of Reid taken while he was on a wine tour, leaning against a bus, drinking a Speight’s stubbie.

[email protected]

- Advertisement -