Historic Christchurch hotel is demolished

Updated at 8:46 pm on 9 April 2011

The historic - and pioneering - Carlton Hotel in Christchurch was torn down on Saturday evening.

Two diggers ripped the building apart, and traffic was down to one lane as at least 100 onlookers observed the demolition.

The 105-year-old building lost its frontage as part of the damage it suffered in February's earthquake, and has since been propped up on one side.

The Carlton served New Zealand's first beer on tap in 1939, hosted the country's first beer garden in 1947 and the first drive-through bottle store in 1954.

Publican James Murdoch says engineers have ruled it unsafe because they are concerned another aftershock could bring down the building.

Mr Murdoch says, because the hotel sits on the busy corner of Bealey Avenue, Papanui Road and Carlton Mill Road, it also poses a safety hazard for pedestrians.

It was built in 1906 and has a category two listing with the Historic Places Trust.

"It's a Christchurch institution and there's a lot of people with fond memories of the place," said Mr Murdoch.

Many of the people watching who talked to Radio New Zealand said they were sad it was coming down with one woman saying it was where she had her first alcoholic drink.

Another was concerned about what "might go up in its place" but Mr Murdoch said he hopes to have a new hotel built on the site within 18 months so the name Carlton can live on.

Onlookers watch as the Carlton Hotel comes down (Tim Graham)

Onlookers watch as the Carlton Hotel comes down (Tim Graham)

Photo: RNZ

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