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Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 2, Issue 3, 1989

(C) Lukins' Lime-Kiln

page 5

(C) Lukins' Lime-Kiln

The other early source of burnt lime was from Lukins' lime-kiln, established on the hillside at Port Nelson, opposite the present site of Reliance Engineering Limited. This kiln was used fairly consistently until 1957, using stone from a variety of sources. It was operated by a series of owners or lessees for a period of over 70 years, and was undoubtedly the most important source of burnt lime in the district, for most of that time.

(i) James Lukins

James Lukins came to Nelson in about 1858. He was engaged in gold-mining at the Glengyle claim at Parapara, before purchasing a ketch, Rapid, and a schooner. Dove, which he sailed between Nelson and New Plymouth. On 26th July 1880 he purchased about a quarter of an original town acre, numbered section 37, in Haven Road. This was just across the road from the jetty which carried his name, and was presumably the base for his shipping business. The house and property were later transferred to his daughter, Mrs Amelia Ann Charles, who lived there for the rest of her long life, together with her son, Lewis J. Charles, who spent his whole life as a limeburner.

On 19th March 1883, Lukins bought the rest of section 37, apart from a small portion, which had been purchased by Bishop Suter, and on which a small church survived. Lukins was then aged 57, but continued the operation of a lime-kiln on the property, which he apparently first leased from a Mr Carter on 1st December 1860, and maintained a business in burnt lime. Lew Charles used to talk about limestone being quarried on the Tata Islands in Golden Bay, brought to Nelson on a scow, unloaded at Lukins wharf and carried by wheelbarrow across the road to the kiln.

For all the years of operation of the works, limestone and fuel, latterly coke, were hauled up the hill on a steeply inclined tramline and tipped at the top. Lukins apparently built the wooden winch equipment himself, including a large spoked driving wheel.

(ii) Edwin H. Lukins

During the later years of James Lukins, the lime business was handled mainly by his son, Edwin. He inherited the enterprise on the death of his father on 16th July 1897 at the age of 71, having been a well respected older settler.

(iii) H. R. Duncan

On the 19th May 1910, Edwin Lukins sold the limeworks to the well-known Nelson brewer, Henry Richard Duncan, and it remained in the Duncan family for the remaining period of its operation,

(iv) F. W. Greenslade

For some period between 1910 and the mid 1920's, the works was leased and operated by Frank. W. Greenslade, who also owned ships. He apparently used marble from the Kairuru quarry on the Takaka Hill, which he shipped from the Sandy Bay wharf to Nelson.

A Waimea West farmer, W. D. Dron, records paying Greenslade £5.10.0 with a cheque dated 9th October 1919 for two tons of lime, but there was some dissatisfaction, because the lime would not run through the drill. Included in the amount paid was £1 for the sacks.

(v) W. L. Lawry

Sometime in the mid 1920 's the kiln was closed up. W. Leslie Lawry at that time needed burnt lime for the manufacture of lime-sulphur, so he took over the lease, and ran the kiln until it was closed down in 1957. Initially, stone was carted by W. V. (Bill) Snow from a fan in the Teal Valley, formed by stone washed out of the Maitai limestone belt, higher up the valley.

Later it was found that marble from the Takaka Hill produced a higher quality of burnt lime, and stone was quarried from several points close to the road on the hill. One small but well – developed quarry can still be seen, just above the road which goes to Canaan.

From about 1936, stone from a newly opened quarry in the Maitai belt, in the Lee Valley, was used for the production of slaked lime, used mainly in agriculture.

When the works was closed in 1957, the property was sold to Guard's Sea Services. The old kiln and buildings were dismantled.