New owners of old granary storing ideas

By Zaryd Wilson

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Marton man Rob Snijders and his wife Ruth have bought The Old Granary in Marton. The building has been vacant for three years following a fire.
Marton man Rob Snijders and his wife Ruth have bought The Old Granary in Marton. The building has been vacant for three years following a fire.

More than three years after fire put one of Marton's oldest building out of action - The Old Granary has new owners.

Fire closed what was the Fork 'n Spoon Cafe in March, 2013.

It was later determined cigarette ash had started the blaze which damaged the rear wall of the building and the top storey.

The cafe never reopened and has been boarded up as it sat on the market for much of the three years since.

Until May this year when Marton couple Rob and Ruth Snijders bought the building with the aim to restore it and put it to use again.

The Old Granary was built in 1856 and has had many uses over its 160 years, including a grain store, land agents and cafe.

The Snijders have no firm plans what it will be used for next. It's a work in progress.

Mr Snijders said they'd driven past the building a lot and then started hearing rumours of it being demolished.

Then earlier this year he bumped into real estate agent Carol Lewis outside the building and asked for a look inside.

Once he stepped inside and saw the building was salvageable, his mind was made up.

"I was sort of gob smacked that the ground floor was pretty much intact. I thought it'd be a lot worse," he said.

"The decision was made pretty quickly actually."

Mr Snijders said there had been positive feedback in Marton about the building being used again.


Work on the building would probably start in October, with the building being lifted to put new piles in to realign the floor.

The weatherboard needs replacing on the side and the rear and the top storey - which suffered the bulk of fire damage - needs restoring.

He then hopes it will be in use by the middle of next year - whatever it ends up being.

"We have lots of ideas... it's just really how it pans out at the end of the day," Mr Snijders said.

They would consider either operating a business themselves or leasing the building.

"It's going to have a social use at the end of the day. But it's a little bit fluid," Mr Snijders said.

"I think it's the oldest in town. It's an attraction in its own right.

The Old Granary in Marton circa 1925
The Old Granary in Marton circa 1925


"Effectively it'll all look the same. It'll stay two floors and we'll bring the upper floor into use."

The building has category 2 heritage status but Mr Snijders would be happy if it went up a level.

"The only way you can get grant money is if it was heritage 1," he said. "It seems a shame that it's not available for all, especially in a community like this. I'd say we'd get a lot better take up of buildings like this."

Mr Snijders said was happy to be part of keeping heritage buildings such as The Old Granary in use.

"I suppose someone's got to take the initiative in town," he said. "There's a few individuals giving it a crack.

"It'll keep me out of mischief for a while."

** Anyone with historical information on The Old Granary can contact Rob on TheOldGranaryMarton@gmail.com

- Wanganui Chronicle

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