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Our Environment: Issue 7 Autumn 1996:

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter

Christchurch Heritage - Wood's Mill

The ninth booklet in the series The Architectural Heritage of Christchurch has now been published by the Environmental Policy and Planning Unit. The topic of this booklet is the former Wood Brothers flour mill at Addington. The booklet examines the historical development of the Wood Brothers involvement in the flour milling industry in Christchurch and discusses the architectural and historical significance of the Addington Mill.

The history of flour milling in Christchurch owes a large debt to the entrepreneurial nature of William Derisley Wood who in 1856 founded a firm that was to span 114 years of milling history in the region. Within this time Wood Brothers operated mills using almost every available source of milling power and technology. The first mill was powered by wind, the second by water and the third mill by steam then electricity.

The first mill, a windmill erected in 1856, was in Windmill Road, now Antigua Street, on the present day site of the Canterbury Brewery. By 1860 the requirements of the colony had outrun the capacity of the windmill. A second mill, initially powered by a water-wheel, was completed in 1861 on part of the Deans' Estate where Christchurch Girls' High School is now sited at Mona Vale. The power of this mill was increased in 1880 with the introduction of a "double" water turbine and in 1889 the millstones were replaced by steel rollers.

The introduction of roller milling was so successful that Wood Brothers decided in 1890 to expand further and build a roller mill powered by steam, lit by electricity and serviced by rail. This decision resulted in the erection of a large four storey brick mill in Wise Street, Addington. The Addington Mill, designed by architect J C Maddison, began operating in 1891. By 1936 it had the largest output in the South Island.

In 1970 Wood Brothers Limited sold the mill complex at Addington bringing to a close four generations of flourmilling by the Wood family in New Zealand. Today the mill buildings are used for a variety of functions. Residential apartments are being developed within the original 1890-96 Maddison mill building and the Luttrell Brothers 1924 addition. The former storage sheds are owned by a transport firm, and Riccarton Players theatre group occupy the former grain stores. An Addington land mark, the tall brick grain silo of 1913 (now owned by Defiance Flour Mills), is still used in the flourmilling industry.

The booklet contains a number of interesting historical, as well as contemporary, photographs associated with the mills. The booklet's production team comprised of Jenny May (text, research and photograph; Peter Shapcott (design research and photography) and Duncan Shaw-Brown (photography).

The booklet retails at $10 and at present is only available at the fourth floor reception, Civic Offices, Tuam Street. It will be distributed to Service Centres and bookshops in early April. Copies of the other booklets in the series are still available.

Jenny May
Assistant Planner - Heritage

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