Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood
This suburb of Christchurch was originally a portion of the Heathcote District. In the old times the Heathcote river was the port of entry for Canterbury. Here were bonded stores and wharves, which used to be thronged with steamers and lighters from Lyttelton, and sailing craft trading to the other ports of New Zealand and the Australian Colonies. Many an old settler of Canterbury well remembers the Ferry-road and its wharves. But when the tunnel was opened the scene changed; but not as some thought, who predicted that the grass would grow over the Ferry-road. The shipping has nearly deserted the Heathcote, but wool-works, fellmongeries, tanneries, and a carpet factory, and other industries have sprung up and created quite a populous and busy neighbourhood. Tramcars, to and from Christchurch, run frequently through the main street (Regent-street), and the railway from Christchurch to Lyttelton runs past the southern boundary, with a station for passengers and goods conveniently situated. The library is one of the oldest of the country ones in the province, having been established in 1863, and having lived and prospered, through hard times and good ever since. It has 1400 volumes of books, among which are to be found many of the newest publications in travels, history, science, &c. In connection with the library is a reading room, and steps are being taken to increase the accommodation of both.
This district was one of the first suburbs to avail itself of the facilities afforded by the Town District Act for locally managing its own affairs, having been formed into a District, under a Board, in August, 1882. The chairman of the first Board was page 223Mr. J. H. Hopkins, an old identity in the district, who has made his mark in it, invariably taking the lead or prominent part in. public matters. The way the district has improved under the administration of the Board speaks well for local government. Roads and pathways are well formed and kept, and concrete side channels and street lamps are amongst the improvements; a local fire brigade has been established, and local industries are nursed. Politically, the district has a history in Canterbury, the Heathcote having been considered a seat worthy of being contested for by the most noted of our public men, and on its platform we have seen Sir John Hall, Mr. Justice Williams, the Hon. George Buckley, and Messrs. Moorhouse, Fitzgerald, Rolleston, Montgomery, Ollivier, Kennaway, &c.
We give views of two establishments in Woolston, the Zealandia Carpet Factory and the Woolston Emporium, besides descriptions of others.
The Woolston Emporium (Established 1863).
This establishment, belonging to Mr. J. H. Hopkins, is one that does credit to the district. It has grown, under its present proprietor, from what was originally a four-roomed cottage to really a gigantic establishment. It was enlarged twice, after which Mr. Hopkins, finding it still too small for his growing trade, built the eastern half of the present building, a two-storey brick one, very substantial, with compo front and ornamental windows, alongside the old original building. Subsequently he removed the old building and built the second half of the present structure, which now forms one of the most convenient and compact establishments in New Zealand. In it there are six distinct departments—drapery, clothing, boots, grocery, crockery, ironmongery, and a corn store. Each department is well filled with a carefully selected stock, while the grocery portion —50 feet by sixteen feet—is in advance of any establishment in Christchurch. The fixtures and arrangement of stock show that great care has been taken in disposing of, and displaying the goods to, the best advantage. We will instance a butter cupboard, fitted with shelves to hold about 200 lbs. of butter, with a constant flow of artesian water through it, which keeps the butter both fresh and cool during all weathers. There is also a large cellar for cheese, where a stock of that article is kept that would surprise many.
The frontage of this establishment is 85 feet, with a depth of 66 feet, with upper floor storage, and cellar accommodation below. There is a splendid supply of good artesian water, page 224which is forced by a ram into tanks upon the buildings, from whence it is distributed through the dwelling house, the store, and the stables, and is also ready for fire preventive purposes. To the drainage of his place Mr. Hopkins has given particular attention, he having laid down, for ordinary purposes and to carry off surface water, no less than 580 feet of drainage pipes.
Mr. Hopkins has been postmaster in the district since his settlement in it, and has given many examples of his enterprise, which the residents readily acknowledge. His establishment is connected with the Christchurch Telephone Exchange, although he is several miles from that centre.
Bowron Brothers' Works.
These works are situated in three places in the Woolston District, near each other, and on both sides of the Ferry-road. In all, they cover about four acres. In them the manufacture of sheepskins into skivers, moroccos, roans, chamois leathers, &c., for hatters, boot and shoe makers, bookbinders, furniture makers, &c., is carried on by skilled workmen specially imported from London. The visitor to these works will be highly interested at the various processes through which the sheepskins pass till they are finished with beautiful surfaces and delicate colours, ready for the hatter, bookbinder, or upholsterer. Most of the sheepskins, after having been stripped of the wool, are split into two, the inner—the flesh side—being made into chamois leathers, and the outer, or grained side, into "skivers." But skins intended to be made into furniture leathers are not split. This splitting is done by machines composed of rollers, round which the skins are tightly carried, and close to which a number of knife-blades work at about 2600 revolutions a minute. This work can be regulated to a nicety, and performed with a speed and perfection which to the uninitiated seems little short of marvellous. The other machinery in use for driving oil into the chamois; the stamping machine, for breaking down or softening the skins; the hydrostatic extractors, for drying wool, &c.; and the hydraulic presses, are all interesting as regards the work they perform, and the way in which it is performed. The motive power for these is obtained from an 18-h.p. horizontal engine, with multitubular boiler. The dyeing and finishing portion of the works, are also worth inspection. After the skins have been dyed they are each separately nailed on a frame, and either left in a large drying loft, 80 feet square, to dry, or dried in a room heated up to 180 degrees, according to the kind of leathers to which they are intended to be finished. In the "finishing room," 40 feet by 25 feet, the finishing touches to page 225the skins are given, and the "grain" put on. Thus, for furniture leathers there are two ways of finishing, viz., the hard grained moroccos, and the straight grained; while for bookbinders' leathers there are the fast grained, glaziers' straight grained, dice grains, and hard grains.
At the three works a considerable number of hands are employed, and a valuable local industry is carried on. It may give our readers some idea of the importance of these and similar works in the colony when we say that the opening of Messrs. Bowron's works made so much difference to wool works that one, at least, at Belfast, was able to declare a profit, owing to being able to sell its sheepskins which previously it had to incur expense to bury or destroy.
T. J. Watters' Range Manufactory.
This factory is in Cashel-street, next the Bank of Australasia, and has been established about eight years. Previously Mr. Watters had been employed for twenty-one years in one foundry in Cornwall, England. His work principally consists of the manufacture of all kinds of cooking ranges and fire grates; besides these he makes and fits up hot and cold baths, with high pressure boilers, and all kinds of hot water apparatus, and all kinds of engineering work in iron and brass. Among the cooking ranges which he has made are one twelve-feet range for the White Hart Hotel, one ten-feet for the Empire Hotel, one for Lancaster Park Hotel ten feet long, one nine feet long for Barrett's Hotel, one eight-feet range for the Convent, one eight-feet range for the Clarendon Hotel, one six-feet range for the Star Hotel (Addington), one large one for Mr. Postlethwaite at Geraldine, one five-feet-six range for the Railway Hotel, one large one for Mr. Beetham (Napier), and one ten-feet range for Coker's Commercial Hotel, Christchurch. Besides this last work he fitted up for Mr. Coker the hot and cold water apparatus for baths and household purposes running all through the hotel. He makes portable ranges from 3-feet upwards. At the International Exhibition of 1882 he was awarded a gold medal for design, workmanship and cheapness. The previous year he won the gold medal at the Agricultural and Pastoral Association's Show; in 1882 he gained the same Association's first and second prizes against competition for a ten-feet and a four-feet range; and in 1883 he won a first prize for a three-feet-six range; and in 1884 he gained a first prize page 226for a ten-feet range, a first prize for a four-feet range, a first prize for a three-feet range, at the same Association's Shows.
He employs about eleven hands, and his ranges are sent to all parts of the Colony to wholesale houses and also private individuals. He makes ship's stoves of any size, and his work is generally of a high class, while his prices are thoroughly moderate.