The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]
The Freezing Works
The Freezing Works (the Christchurch Meat Company, proprietor), Islington. It may be said that the frozen meat industry in New Zealand was begun late in 1881 and early in 1882. The first shipment left Port Chalmers on the 15th of February, 1882, in the Shaw, Savill Company's ship “Dunedin,” and the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, under the auspices of its general manager, Mr. Thomas Brydone, was the shipper. The success of the shipment led to the establishment of the New Zealand Refrigerating Company at Dunedin, and of the Canterbury Frozen Meat and Dairy Company at Christchurch. Other companies were afterwards established, and the progress of the industry has been such, that the total value of the products of meat freezing, and preserving and boiling down works increased from £543,878 in 1885 to £3,834,891 in 1900. Canterbury stands at the head of this great industry, on account of the superior quality of its meat, which commands the highest price in the Home market. The Christchurch Meat Company, which has helped in a large measure to develop the industry, started in 1889, and its promoters, seeing the possibilities connected with by-products, devoted special attention to this branch, with the result that the company now annually turns out about four thousand tons of manures and fertilisers, manufactured from the offal, viscera and blood. Another most important branch of the business is in the manufacture of table delicacies and tinned meats, such as sheeps' tongues, corned, boiled, roasted, spiced and curried mutton, with the same varieties of beef, lambs' feet, liver and bacon, brawn, potted head, meat extract and stock for soups. The buildings at Islington, about eight miles south of Christchurch, on the main south line, cover five acres of ground, and have a freezing and killing capacity of 10,000 sheep per diem, and a storage capacity for 140,000 carcases of frozen mutton and lamb. Over 500 persons are employed at the works, and the various departments are presided over by thoroughly experienced and competent men. The whole of the buildings are lighted with electric light, and there is telephonic communication throughout the various departments. The engines in use are of the very latest design. There is a splendid system of hydrants throughout the building, with an unlimited supply of water; and there is also a fine ice plant capable of manufacturing five tons of crystal ice per day, from pure artesian water, obtained at a depth of 100 feet, and carefully purified previous to freezing. This ice is sold at a nominal price to the shipping, the households and hotels in Lyttelton, Christchurch, and throughout Canterbury. The Christchurch Meat Company is further referred to at page 79 of the general introduction to this volume, and also at page 325 in the section devoted to the meat trade. At its works at Islington, Smithfield and Picton the company put through 1,305,132 head of stock in the year 1902.