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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

Messrs. Robert Wilkin & Co

Messrs. Robert Wilkin & Co.

Messrs. Robert Wilkin & Co.'s premises are situated in Hereford-street, where they carry on business as general merchants, auctioneers, and estate agents. Their premises are very extensive, covering about an acre of ground. On entering from Hereford-street a visitor finds himself in the original building, where the senior partner of the firm started the business in 1869. On the right is the counting-house, where fifteen or sixteen clerks are seen through the windows, hard at work, and, adjoining, the private rooms of the managers; on the left an auction-room, &c. This building is only one storey, but it is one of the landmarks of Christchurch, being one of the oldest buildings in the place. The warehouse is filled with merchandise of every description, and at once shows the extensive trade carried on by the firm. They keep everything required for working a farm or a station. Here we have cases of wines, spirits, and beer, and, on the other hand, chests of tea, boxes of soap, cases of jam, bags of sugar, &c. In this store the first public sales of wool, sheepskins, hides, &c, held in Canterbury were started. Passing through, we come to a two-storey brick building, the upper floor of which is used as a wool sale room, and is large enough to lot about 800 bales; it is lighted both page 163from the side and roof, and is admirably adapted for the use to which it is put. On the ground floor are various machines; one for cutting and punching fencing standards, an oat crusher, a machine for crushing barley, and an oilcake crusher. These are worked by an "Otto" gas engine," and are generally to be seen busily employed. Adjoining this store is a building known as the skin shed, being used for the weekly sales of sheepskins, tallow, hides, &c., and, in the season, for wool. Still another store, of large dimensions, is filled with every kind of agricultural machinery; here are reapers and binders, ploughs, chaff cutters, oat crushers, sowing machines, turnip cutters, hay loaders, and every kind of machine used by farmer or runholder. Crossing a right-of-way from the machinery store, we find our way to a large and magnificent brick building, known as the seed store. The basement and part of the ground floor is used as a bond, and filled with wines, spirits, tea, sugar, and the usual stock of a bonded store; the rest of the building is entirely devoted to seeds of every kind. On the ground floor are large stacks of cotton bags, full of clovers from America, England, Germany, and France. On the first floor is a huge machine for dressing rye grass seed, and another machine for threshing and dressing clover seed. On this floor are large stacks of rye grass and cocksfoot seed, cleaned and ready for sale. Up another flight of stairs, and we are on the top floor, used for the receipt of all parcels of seeds as they come in from the farmer; the machine for cleaning on the floor below being fed from this upper floor. The seed is raised by means of a travelling elevator, worked by the same gas engine which serves to drive the cleaner. As a seed store it is simply perfect, and from the large stock and bustling activity of some half-a-dozen storemen, it is evident that seeds play an important part in the firm's business. Outside this store is a large yard, full of the rougher kind of agricultural implements—as ploughs, harrows, cultivators, rollers, &c. In the centre yard is a galvanized iron building, devoted to the storage of fencing wire, wire netting, hoop iron, and other heavy goods. To anyone connected with farming interests a visit to these stores cannot fail to be of interest. We had almost forgotten to mention that in one of the office rooms we were shown about as complete a library of works on farming as could possibly be got together. These books are all prizes won from Agricultural Societies' shows for exhibits of seeds, machinery, &c., and are faced by a case full of medals, cups, &c, gained in the same manner.