THE PROSPECT OF HOWICK
The Prospect of Howick is the place to be seen in Howick Village, an icon that is very well known locally and has had generations through its doors. It has recently been redesigned into the vibrant and welcoming Good Home Howick, creating a relaxed homely atmosphere where diners can enjoy a long leisurely lunch or evening meal in a number of dining areas throughout the Restaurant and Bar areas. We have the classic “Den Area”, the “Library” for those wanting a quiet nook to get together or the “Private Dining Room” for up to six diners which is a very popular table for families. There is a seamless flow out to the sun-drenched leafy courtyard which is ideal for after-work socialising and to take in the village atmosphere that Howick offers. In August 2019 we renovated the old hotel rooms on the upper level to accommodation again. We have 12 rooms available, click on Accommodation for more information and photos.
The cuisine is modern New Zealand with some dishes offering the classics and of course good old home cooked meals, with regular changes to the menu with seasonal produce. Current Proprietor Barry O’Shaughnessy has had a long association with The Prospect.
In 1978 Barry worked as Chef and then as Duty Manager for two years. Barry moved on to other Hotels and then returned to take over the lease in 1993. The Prospect of Howick is very community focused and hosts “The Point to Pub” fun run we host an annual Blue Ribbon Prostate Cancer Breakfast, Pink Ribbon Brunch, provide buses to all major concerts.and fishing competitions each year. We have Live Music every Friday night and during the summer months we also have Lazy Sunday afternoon live music for all to enjoy.
Barry is helping the community by passing on money raised at The Prospect for Kidz First Children’s Hospital.
The History of The Prospect
The “Prospect of Howick” hotel, bar and restaurant in Picton Street, Howick was formerly called the “Marine Hotel”. There were two Marine Hotels, the modern brick building and a large wooden Marine Hotel both on the same site in the main street of Howick. The first Marine Hotel was built for George Sellwood in 1906, designed by one of Auckland’s leading architects Edward Bartley. It was described in 1908 as “the large and well conducted house with views seaward and landward.” George Sellwood owned the large General Store next door and lived on “Glenfern” farm behind the Post Office.
He was a director of the ambitious Howick Motor Bus Company in 1904 but the luxurious big heavy buses sunk into the ubiquitous clay roads of Howick and Pakuranga, regularly calling on the opposition Crawford’s horse buses to pull them out, and the motor bus company failed. Visitors used to come to stay in the hotel in this country seaside village, arriving by ferry to Howick beach’s long wharf or by horse from Auckland. In 1925 electricity arrived in Howick. A prominent citizen was ironing her dress using, possibly for the first time, an electric iron.
She left it on, and the whole hotel burned down. There was no fire brigade or reticulated water, although this tragedy forced the Howick Town Board to install reticulated water and start a fire brigade in 1930. The day after the fire a temporary bar was set up under canvas next to the smouldering ruins for local patrons. In 1930 James Fletcher built the new brick building, one of his first Auckland contracts- the forerunner of Fletcher Construction Limited, one of New Zealand’s largest construction companies. It was described as “licensed, first class cuisine, tariff three pounds ten shilling a week or twelve shillings a day” soon after opening. It specialised in honeymoon couples from Auckland. George Bernard Shaw [b1856-d1950] the famous writer, socialist and Nobel Prize winner for literature stayed here in 1934. The hotel was popular for wedding receptions, Arrange Hunt Club breakfasts, dinners, lunches, meetings and even Presbyterian Church afternoon teas. Howick Town Board members Cecil Litten, later Mayor of Howick and Mr Fitzwilliam in 1936 planted the London plane trees on the grass forecourt. The publican used to milk his house cows on a three legged stool and hotel sheets and towels used to dry on long lines supported by long ti tree poles in the paddock between the hotel and the police station 100 metres away in Picton Street in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
In 1953 the Howick Post newspaper reported that the hotel was the only business open and there were 53 cars outside-the most popular attraction in Howick. The Prospect of Howick replaced the name Marine Hotel in 1977 presenting a new decor moving away from the “booze barn” to an English style pub with a garrison bar, reflecting Howick’s fencible, soldier-settler history and presenting more modern dining facilities. In 2006 the Prospect of Howick was refurbished moving with the times, opening the modern bar and brasserie attracting a wide clientele, but retaining much of the charm of its rural village origins.
By Alan La Roche MBE, Howick Historian