Coromandel Life Spring/Holiday 2013 - page 9

When we chose the image of
the large ornate building for our
contest last issue, we knew what it
was. Just look at the sign over the
porch. “Tairua Hotel”. Then why
was it also identified as Laycock’s
Hotel at the Landing as well as
the Landing Hotel? When did that
The questions concerning the
history of this hotel multiplied
the more we researched. There
were two primary owners, father
Henry Laycock and son William H.
Laycock. Both eventually owned
and operated this hotel, which
was located at ‘Upper Landing’
at what is now Hikaui, also called
Laycock’s Landing.
This hotel was built circa 1885
and run by a Charles Winder, who
was in the gum buying and store
business. His Tairua Hotel was
located at the landing in Hikuai.
Up river were major lumber fields
with logs floated down to the mills.
Patrons would include men looking
for work in the mines and timber
fields, mill workers from Union
Sash and Door, bushmen, gum
miners, farmers, travellers, sailors.
In late 1888, Winder decided to
sell his hotel and store to expand
his various gum business activities.
Henry Laycock, who had been
petitioning unsuccessfully to build
a hotel on his land on the Pepe
near the Union Sash mills, bought
it in March of 1889, securing the all
important operating license, which
involved liquor. Hotel income was
not so much for lodging, as it was
for selling spirits to workers on
their nights off.
When things got too unlawful, an
owner could (and often did) lose
their license. Old newspapers are
full of accounts of these license
hearings, and of petitioners such
as Henry Laycock wanting to open
a new hotel. In one knarly hearing,
full of corruption, Laycock was
opposed by the nearby Union
Sash mill owners, who fought
him to retain all rights to selling
anything, and to keep booze out of
the hands of their workers.
Thus, in 1889, Laycock bought the
existing Tairua Hotel from Winder.
And shortly transferred the license
to his son, William H. Laycock .
Laycock’s Sir George Grey
Father Henry Laycock, also in
the gum buying/stores business,
finally succeeded in his quest for
a license, and built the Sir George
Grey Hotel near the Pepe. In
1898, he transfered that license
to son Sydney, who operated it
until 1905, when it was damaged
by fire. It burnt down in 1941, but
it perpetuated until 1952 as the
‘Tairua Pub’, a tin shed selling
booze. The Sir Grey continued in
name only, when an entrepreneur
Laycocks at the Landing
Right, legal notice of transfer of hotel from
Charles Winder to Henry Laycock 1889
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