Yesterday afternoon cracks began appearing in the facade and at 10pm last night the Council made the decision to demolished it - without the owners' consent. While their knocking shop was knocked down in just a few hours the legal battle will not be resolved in such short order. I heard about it and today I visited the site and I still can't quite believe it has happened. It's all gone.
I am reminded of three incidents.
Firstly, just down from what is now a pile of Victorian bricks on the same side of the street, is the old facade of the Victoria Street TAB. In the late 80s/early 90s when the building behind it was being constructed the front slumped suddenly and it looked like it would collapse onto the street. It was debated whether to let it fall onto the street or preserve it. It was braced and preserved. Could this not have been done in the instance of the Aurora?
Secondly, the Waitakere City Council eventually bought the old New Lynn Hotel a few years ago - it was a facade shell - in order to preserve it. It was about the only notable historical building along that area of Great North Road (the Avondale stables burnt down earlier this year). But this year the Council concluded it couldn't be saved and they demolished it. There is a new building going up on the site right now. It was a scandal that it was the Council itself that destroyed the Hotel given that the only reason they bought it was to save it as a heritage asset. It was not in an acute state - they just couldn't be arsed making an effort. Easier to run a bulldozer through it. Pathetic - such a waste. A landmark destroyed by its supposed steward.
So when I hear it was the Council that demanded the Aurora be demolished - completely levelled - I am not at all trusting of the local authority's competence in having done that.
The third incident was the first time I was ever a patron of the Aurora in its era as a traditional type public bar. A group of us Auckland University students staggered in during a capping pub crawl in the early 90s. It was dank and dark and it was one of the last on the official list, but not too far down that I can't remember. The surly old crusty regulars were already overwhelmed with drunken, raving, puking teenagers at that point. It had some charm - we had very little - and getting less with each plastic cup of DB Export downed.