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

(a) Farmers Union Lime Co. Ltd

(a) Farmers Union Lime Co. Ltd.

It appears that, in 1920, the first production of crushed agricultural lime was undertaken at Kaka, by the Farmers Union Lime Co. Ltd. At Kaka there is a deposit of high grade tertiary limestone, with a calcium carbonate content averaging 96%. The quarry and works were about a kilometre from the Kaka railway station, over the Tadmor River, up a side gully containing Cave Creek.

John W. Christian, who lived between Kaka and Tui, was awarded a contract to build a tramline from the works to the railway station. George Hall was responsible for construction of the high wooden bridge, spanning the river. The tramline was under construction when Armistice was declared in 1918.

Official figures from this period do not distinguish production tonnages from individual works but, in 1929, 1654 tons of lime were produced in Nelson-Westland.

A railway waybill, dated 25th November 1921, shows the consignment of 1 truck of lime from Kaka to W. D. Dron at Spring Grove, for which the railage was 8 shillings and demurrage for 2 days was £1. The lime was sown on a paddock at Waimea West, but the supply ran out before the paddock was finished. The difference in the growth of grass subsequently, between the two areas, totally convinced Mr Dron of the benefits of the crushed lime.

This was just as well, because earlier in 1921 he had purchased 5 more shares in the Company, in addition to 50 shares bought in 1919 for £2.10.0.

Sometime immediately after World War I, the plant was sold to Norman E. Wilkinson and leased to Jack R. Oldham, who ran it for some time. Then it was leased for a while by Otto Bauer, and finally run by Wilkinson himself, until closed permanently in 1959. Output for 1958 was 242 tons and, in 1959, 22 tons.

Until soon after World War II, in about 1949, agricultural lime was carried on the railway free of charge, and this enabled farmers all over the Waimeas to purchase a relatively cheap product.