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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]



Islington is on the main south line, about seven miles from Christchurch. The Christchurch Meat Company has works at Islington, which has, in consequence of that fact, moved ahead rapidly as a settlement within recent years. It now (1903) has a population of about 300 persons, and there is a steady increase in that respect. Many of the residents are employed directly or indirectly in connection with the meat factory. The Islington works cover several acres of land; they are amongst the largest of their kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and give employment to about two hundred men. About two miles from the works, on the main road between Islington and Templeton, there is the nucleus of a township, with a large State school, a post and telegraph office, and a hotel.

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.

Mr. J. Leslie, Manager at Islington of the Christchurch Meat Company's freezing works, was born in the county of London-derry, Ireland, and came to New Zealand by the ship “Waitangi” in 1876. After his arrival he was employed for about nine months with Mr. J. Sharp, a leading farmer at Landbrooks. He was with Mr. Thorne and afterwards with Mr. Freeman, fellmongers, at Woolston, for about two years, when he entered the service of the Prevision and Produce Company, at Belfast, where he remained until he joined the staff of the Christchurch Meat Company in 1889. Mr. Leslie entered the Company's service as a foreman, but his energy and practical knowledge led to his receiving promotion to his present important and responsible position, in 1894. In 1900 Mr. Leslie took a trip Home, where he visited all the
Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. J. Leslie.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. J. Leslie.

page 718 principal centres of the frozen meat industry, and returned by way of America, where he visited the large slaughter yards at Chicago. He is a member of the Hornby school committee, and also a Freemason, and has been a member of the Order of Oddfellows for upwards of twenty-five years.

Mr. Robert Scott Watson, Chief Engineer of the Christchurch Meat Company's Islington Freezing Works, was born in Forfarshire, Scotland, and learned engineering with the firm of Munroe and Co., of Arbroath, and at Palmer and Co.'s ship building and engineering works at Jarrow-on-Tyne, two leading engineering firms in Great Britain in their own particular lines of business. After considerable experience in his profession in some of the large engineering workshops in England, Scotland, and Ireland, Mr. Watson came to New Zealand by the ship “Janet Court” in 1874, when he entered the service of Messrs A. and T. Burt, engineers, Dunedin. He remained in that firm's employment for some time, and then went to Australia to gain further experience. While thus engaged he worked for about three years in New South Wales and Queensland, most of the time with the Government of the latter colony. Having accepted an engagement in the Government railway workshops in Tasmania he remained in that country for some time, and returned to New Zealand in 1880. After a short engagement with a firm in Timaru he went into business on his own account as an engineer and contractor, and, amongst other work, carried out several important contracts for the Timaru Borough Council on their water supply scheme. On the initiation of the South Canterbury Refrigerating Company, he was engaged by that company to prospect for water on its property, and remained in its employment and that of the Christchurch Meat Company there, until 1900, when he was appointed to his present position. As a Freemason Mr. Watson is a member of Lodge Caledonian, Timaru. He is married, and has a family of three children.

Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. R. S. Watson.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. R. S. Watson.