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Ozone Hotel

Situated at the corner of Bowhill Road and Marine Parade, the Ozone Hotel was originally built in 1914 before being rebuilt in 1923 following a fire.

Ozone Hotel
Ozone Hotel. Creator (cre): Christchurch Star. © Christchurch Star

The suburb of North Beach, separated from New Brighton by Rāwhiti Domain, was originally undeveloped land consisting of sand hills until 1911. By 1902, Lots 86 and 87 of Rural Section 16012, on the corner of what became Bowhill Road and the Esplanade, were in the ownership of Mary Ann Sorrell. 

In 1911, Sorrell transferred lots 86 and 87 to Sidney Clement Thompson and Augustus William Jones. They proceeded to transfer the section to George Argyle in January 1913. In December of the previous year, Argyle had the land between Bowhill Road, Tonks Street, Osborne Terrace, and the Esplanade surveyed. As part of this survey, lots 86 and 87 became lots 6 (which faced the Esplanade) and 7.

In May 1913, lots 6 and 7 were transferred to Isabella Hucks, who operated the Theatre Royal Café on Gloucester Street. Isabella perhaps recognised that since the tram route from Christchurch to New Brighton via Burwood ran the length of Bowhill Road before turning south into the Esplanade, the site was a suitable location for a venue to cater to visitors to the beach. 

Isabella took out a mortgage with the Sydenham Money Club to finance the construction of a café on the corner of Bowhill Road and the Esplanade, and dressing rooms adjacent to the north on the Esplanade. In October 1914, the architectural firm of John Steele Guthrie offered tenders for the construction of shops and tea rooms in brick for Isabella Hucks.

The building was partitioned into two separate businesses. To the west, was a shop with a main entrance and display windows on the southern façade. A door at the rear of the shop provided access to two additional rooms. The eastern half of the building consisted of the tearooms which were entered via double doors on Bowhill Road. The tearooms also featured a kitchen and on the eastern façade was an enclosed verandah which wrapped around to the northern façade of the building. Arched windows in the enclosed verandah allowed patrons to look out across the Esplanade to the beach. 

To the north of the tearooms was another building which consisted of dressing rooms, a confectionery and tobacconist shop, and living rooms. In November 1914, Isabella advertised the lease of this building. 

By December 1914, the tearooms were open and by April 1915, the building became known as the Ozone Café. In September 1915, Henry Hucks offered the building to the Veterans’ Association for use as a convalescent home. The offer was accepted, and the convalescent home opened on 23 October 1915. The building remained in use by the Veterans’ Association until September 1916 when the convalescent home closed. 

Alterations were made by the architectural firm Collins and Harman in 1921 to convert the tearooms into a hotel. With the addition of a first floor, a new staircase in the north western corner of the tearooms led up to the first floor landing. At the north western corner of the landing, a door opened onto a balcony which ran along the northern side of the building. To the east of the landing, a door provided access to a sitting room for ladies. To the south, the landing opened into a corridor which ran east to west. Along the southern side of the corridor were four double rooms and two single rooms. On the northern side of the corridor were three single rooms with windows that looked out onto the balcony. At the western end of the corridor was a bathroom and water closet for ladies. A door to the north of these opened onto the partitioned western end of the balcony where there were a bathroom and water closet for men. A gangway to the north of the landing provided access to a smoking room.

The additions were complete by December 1921 when Isabella advertised ‘her new up-to-date two-storey residence’ known as Ozone Palace.

Early in the morning of 11 April 1922, a fire broke out in the ice cream parlour and dressing rooms, then leased by H. M. Price, and spread to the Ozone Palace. The fire gutted the entire building, requiring it to be rebuilt.

The architects, Collins and Harman, advertised for tenders in June 1922 and construction of the new building commenced in July 1922. The new building, now known as the Ozone Private Hotel and Café, was completed by March 1923. 

The new building retained the same footprint as the original. However, the interior underwent some changes. The ground floor entrance now opened into a vestibule. Doors in the east of the vestibule opened into a pay office and the tearoom which ran the length of the eastern side of the ground floor. The floor of the tearoom, which also acted as a dining room for the hotel guests, was lined with narrow boards which allowed it to be used as a dance hall. To the north of the vestibule ran a corridor with doors in the eastern side of the wall which provided access to the internal stairs and the kitchen. Along the western side of the corridor were two rooms, an additional room which could act as a shop and a sitting room.

The first floor largely conformed to the plan of the original building. However, the internal stairs now took the place of one of the southern bedrooms. The ladies’ sitting room was reduced in size and now accessed by an open lounge at the eastern end of the corridor. The smoking room on the north was replaced with a bedroom. The northern balcony now provided access to a gangway which led to a fire escape on the northern side of the building. Guests could use the fire escape as a way of returning directly to their rooms after leaving the beach. 

The plan of the original shop on Bowhill Road was retained. However, an extension, consisting of a kitchen and a bathroom, was added to the north of the westernmost room. A washhouse, also part of the extension, was accessed from the yard at the rear of the building. The dressing rooms building on the Esplanade was also rebuilt with a new façade.

To the tired or nervy business man or woman, a stay of even a few days at this hostel, away from the hum and bustle of the city, or the hardships of farm life, as the case may be, works wonders. 

Despite the efforts of Isabella Hucks, the hotel was not a financial success as it was only frequented in the summer and closed during the winter months. By January 1924, the hotel was leased to Henry Lewis. The dressing rooms building, known as the Ozone ice cream parlour and bathing sheds, was advertised for sale in September 1924. By January 1925, the dressing rooms building was put up for auction.

In February 1926, Henry Hucks died. By November 1926, Isabella had decided to retire. The properties she owned in North Beach, including the hotel and the dressing rooms building were advertised for auction in that month by George Anderson and Co. However, Isabella was still operating the hotel in September 1927 when a guest, James Heney, drowned at New Brighton beach. 

In February 1929, the mortgage was transferred to the Sydenham and Suburban Cooperative Money Club. By March 1930, Henry Huffadine was managing the hotel and in April, Isabella Hucks finally retired.  In December 1930, the property was transferred from the Sydenham and Suburban Cooperative Money Club to Robert Brims. 

By November 1932, the Ozone Hotel was under the management of George Sydney Brez. Despite the bankruptcy of Robert Brims in 1933, Brez was still managing the hotel in 1934. The property was auctioned once again in December 1935. In 1938, John Lilly Kinley was overseeing the operation of the hotel.

In October 1938, Cecil William Lilleyman wanted to use the building as a dance hall and submitted plans to the New Brighton Borough Council for alterations. The council, however, refused to grant him a license. By 1940, the building was advertised as furnished flats. 

In 1946, the property was transferred to Lilleyman. In the following year, the building, now known as the Ozone Private Hotel, was advertised as offering holiday or temporary accommodation. During this time, it was also known as Ozone Flats. In August 1955, Lilleyman advertised tenders for the construction of a roller skating rink adjacent to the building on Bowhill Road.

Ownership of the building was transferred to the New Zealand Insurance Company in 1959. In 1966, it was transferred to James Grigor. In 1973, it was transferred to Barrie Murdoch.

In 1979, the property was transferred to Antony Harding, Trevor Dennis Davis (a pastor), and Brian Bodger, who were members of the New Brighton Christian Centre. Under their ownership, renovations were made to the building which became known as Living Waters due to a Biblical reference and there being five wells on the property. The title of ownership was transferred to New Brighton Christian Centre Incorporated in 1984, which was renamed Carmel Christian Centre in 1986.

In 1993, the property was transferred to Ozone Developments Limited and underwent restoration. It was transferred to Kevin Frederick Bueno in 1996. In 2000, it was transferred to Goodman Properties. 

In 2004, Danny Morris, a former Commonwealth Games boxer, leased the building to run as a pub known as The Zone. He also leased the former dressing sheds with the intention of running it as a café.

The hotel and former dressing sheds were demolished in November 2011.