L>R: Evan Marshall, Ben Hutchinson, Murray Kiely
Almost a year to the day after fire razed the clubhouse at the Foxton & Beach Bowling Club, an electrical fault started a fire in the storage shed adjoining the clubhouse at the Akaroa Bowling Club.
But Akaroa was a lot luckier than Foxton.
Fortunately a restless nearby freedom camper raised the alarm in the dead of the night, and the local volunteer fire brigade was quickly on the spot dowsing the fire before it could destroy the clubhouse.
“The first I knew about it,” says Akaroa Bowling Club Vice-President Evan Marshall, “Was when I turned up at 7 o’clock in the morning to pick up gear for a tournament that day, and all the doors and windows to the clubhouse were open. The fire brigade had smashed their way in, dealt to the fire, and left!”
But Club President, Ben Hutchinson, had been called out and was on site at 4:00am.
“The fire never got the chance to get a real hold,” explains Ben. “So most of the damage is smoke or water damage from both the fire hoses and a burst water main. But it still means we’re going to have to close the clubhouse for the rest of the year while repairs are done.”
“The storage shed is gutted and everything in it destroyed. But the smoke and water also went through the ceiling space into the clubhouse. The ceiling collapsed in the kitchen, and we’re up for a new kitchen and appliances. Plus a new outside roof and new internal ceilings right through the clubhouse. I’d imagine some of the gib is also going to need replacing as well.”
Ben Hutchinson shows the collapsed kitchen ceiling
Akaroa is very lucky they don’t have to demolish the clubhouse, because almost certainly they would not have been allowed to rebuild on the same footprint.
Through a unique quirk of history, the Akaroa Bowling Club is built right on the edge of the harbour. “We’re talking right on the edge,” Vice-President Evan Marshall emphasizes. “Just the other week in a storm we had waves splashing up over the clubhouse roof!”
“There is no ‘Queen’s Chain’ here …. The reserve was established under French law when Akaroa was originally colonised. There’s a few places along the foreshore like us which have full riparian rights. But if the building had burnt down, I’m pretty sure the local council may have insisted we could only build a new clubhouse 66 feet in from the shoreline. That would put it half way across the green!”
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