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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

Mr. A. J. White's Furniture Warehouse and — Manufactory

Mr. A. J. White's Furniture Warehouse and

This warehouse, containing the largest stock of furniture and furnishing materials in the colony, is situated at the junction of Tuam and High streets, to which it has a frontage of 110 feet. The buildings, timber yards, stables, &c., cover an area of over an acre, having a frontage to St. Asaph-street in the rear, and an entrance from Manchester-street on the western side. Entering the new brick building from Tuam-street, the visitor comes to the carpet department, a spacious and lofty room 50 feet wide and 80 feet long. In this room there is a very large display of all kinds of carpets, including Axminster, Turkey, Brussels, Indian, Kidderminster, and a considerable number of locally-made carpets. Rugs of all kinds are also here, including hearth-rugs, opposum skin rugs, and a very choice selection of locally-made sheepskin rugs, which are really better than the imported article, and which, indeed, have shut out the latter from our market. On one side of this room are stored large supplies of Kaiapoi, Roslyn, and English blankets; also, cretonnes, and furniture coverings of every description, some being of exquisite designs, and a considerable supply of beautiful tapestry window curtains. In one corner of this room is displayed a charming collection of Japanese goods, which Mr. page 188White makes a specialty of. They include China and bronze ware, lacquered ware, Satsuma ware, Japanese embroidered silks for cushion covers, and a crowd of sundries, such as screens, pincushions in all colours, and umbrellas, from small children's playthings to garden ones eight or nine feet in diameter.

Ascending a broad staircase, on a landing of which is an old English clock with a case 7 feet 6 inches high, the visitor enters the principal show-room for dining and drawing-room furniture, which is the same dimensions as the carpet-room below. Here, among other things, is a magnificent collection of sideboards, all made on the premises, which would do credit to any London house. We were particularly struck with an exceedingly handsome dining-room sideboard in walnut wood, 8 feet wide and 9 feet high, with an octagonal glass back, with shelves at the side, supported by handsome pillars, and a coved top. The carvings on the lower door panels, the sides, and the top, are very rich, and the finish throughout is excellent. As an article of furniture it is a credit to the colony. Other sideboards, in New Zealand woods, and in every style, are to be seen. Of the various suites of furniture in Morocco and other materials, we need only say that, for style and finish, they leave nothing to be desired. In this room is also a collection of pianos, by London and German makers. The walls are well lined with pier-glasses and over-mautels, a number of which are also manufactured on the premises. We noticed that most of the articles of furniture are made of rimu, American walnut, and, in some instances, totara and black pine, but the general preference is given to the two former.

Continuing up another flight of stairs, in the same building, we come to the top storey, which, although large and lofty, is not used as an ordinary showroom: it is chiefly filled with chairs and chair-frames. As a matter of course, they form an important item in this establishment, the stock usually in hand and to arrive, amounting to 700 dozen. We were struck with the rustic chairs, till lately quite out of date, but which have recently become very fashionable. We have not space to particularise all the kinds of chairs here, but will only say that they include those from the humble child's chair to those suitable for the library, shipboard, and ecclesiastical purposes. The old oak furniture in this room would delight a connoisseur. It was sent out from Home, and includes armchairs, barus chests, carved cabinets, old-fashioned tables with flaps, bedsteads, &c., which delight occasional customers from Melbourne and some parts of New Zealand. At one end, of this room is an organ in course of erection, by Mr. E.H. Jenkins, organ builder, by far the largest page 189yet built in this colony, which is intended for the forthcoming Exhibition in Wellington. It is 22 feet high and 8 feet wide. The design of the front is Gothic, with a centre nave and two side towers with four buttresses with carved pinnacles. The case is made of New Zealand ornamental woods, French polished. There are thirty-one speaking pipes in the front, symmetrically arranged, richly decorated in gold and colours. The key-fittings are also of ornamental woods, enclosed by sliding doors, with plate-glass panels so that these fittings are exposed to view even when the organ is closed. The swell-organ keys will overlap the great organ manual, in order to give greater facilities for playing. The whole will be an organ of two manuals, with independent pedal organ, and full compass of pedals, and will be the largest as yet built in New Zealand. The specification is as follows:—

Great organ, compass, C C to G in alto; 56 notes.

1. Open diapason, metal, 8 feet, C C to G 56 pipes.
2. Stopped ditto, wood, do. bass, C C to G 12 pipes.
3. Clarabella, wood, do. tenor, C to G 44 pipes.
4. Dulciana, metal, do.C C to G 56 pipes.
5. Principal, metal, 4 feet, C C to G 56 pipes.
6. Flute, wood, 4 feet, C C to G 56 pipes.
7. Fifteenth, metal, 2 feet, C C to G 56 pipes.
                    Total 336 pipes.

Swell organ, compass, C C to G, in alto, 56 notes.

1. Open diapason, metal, 8 feet, tenor, C to G 44 pipes.
2. Lieblich Gedacht, wood, 8 feet, C C to G 56 pipes.
3. Gamba, metal, 8 feet, tenor, C to G 44 pipes.
4. Hobl Flute, wood, 4 feet, C C to G 56 pipes.
5. Principal, metal, 4 feet, C C to G 56 pipes.
6.Fifteenth, metal, 2 feet, C C to G 56 pipes.
7.Hautbois, metal, 8 feet, tenor, C to G 44 pipes.
                    Total 356 pipes.

N.B.—The bass for No. 4 is derived from No. 3.

Pedal organ; compass, C C C to F; 30 notes.

1. Bourdon, wood, 16 feet, 0 C C to F; 30 pipes.

Couples—1, swell to great; 2, great to pedals; 3, swell to pedals; 4, great octave coupler; 3, composition pedals to great organ.

Summary—15 sounding-stops, 4 couplers, 722 pipes.

Four additional stops are arranged for, the pipes for which can be added at any future time. All bearings and centres of mechanism are "bushed," to ensure quiet action whilst playing, page 190and the whole oiled and varnished, to protect it against atmospheric changes. Some of the more delicate parts have been French polished, whilst the heavier parts of the instrument have either received a coat of copal varnish or been painted in oil colour.

Retracing our steps and entering the top storey of the old building we come to a comparatively small room, 30 feet by 20 feet, devoted almost solely to easy chairs of every possible shape, pattern, and style of upholstery, some of the textures being very expensive. Here we also note some most luxurious couches and settees, while the walls are profusely lined with oil paintings, engravings, and oleographs. From this room we enter another one, 30 feet wide and 60 feet long, well filled with suites of dining and drawing-room furniture of a less expensive kind, interspersed with gypsy tables of all sizes and shapes, and with the walls well lined with chimney glasses.

Descending to the ground floor of the old building the visitor is shown into a delightful little room, 30 feet by 20 feet, thoroughly well filled with principally drawing-room furniture and articles which are gems in their way. Among other things there are mantelpieces and overmantels in walnut, oak, and other woods, brackets with glass backs for walls and corners, some very handsome cabinets in walnut, rimu, mahogany, &c., a little statuary, some beautiful specimens of repoussè work in brass, Doulton-ware, and a host of other kinds of bric-a-brac which we have not space to notice. We must not omit to notice, however, the fireplace lined with tiles, with an Early English dog grate, and with a handsome walnut overmantel of the same period. Continuing our inspection of the extensive furniture stock, we ascend to the rear of the building, where a room, 100 feet long and 60 feet wide, is devoted to all kinds of bedroom furniture and bedding. Here are a number of exceedingly handsome suites, comprising wardrobe, washstand, toilet table, chest of drawers, towel horse, &c., ranging from £12 10s to £75 the suite; also some very handsome iron and brass bedsteads. There are to be seen here some two-tier beds suitable for families, and very convenient where space is limited. Descending again to the ground floor we come to a large room devoted to china and earthenware, where are to be seen toilet-sets from 6s 6d to 100 guineas, dinner-ware from fifty shillings to fifty pounds the service, and tea-sets almost beyond number. Adjoining this is another room devoted to glassware of every description, from the finest to the cheapest, both plain and richly engraved.

In the front of this room, and facing the street, is the furnishing hardware department, well stocked with everything page 191in the shape of pots and pans, coal boxes, mangles, all kinds of laundry requisites, churns and dairy utensils; fenders and irons, brushware, &c. In one corner of this room is the manager's office, the strong room, and a portion of the main office. Adjoining this room is another department devoted exclusively to electroplated ware, cutlery, and lampware. The plated-ware is made an important feature of by Mr White. At the back of this room is the clerks' office, and also Mr. White's private office.

The visitor will next proceed to inspect the factories in the rear, Admission to them is gained from the front by means of a covered passage, 80 feet by 10 feet, which, at the time of our visit, was literally choked up with packages recently arrived waiting to be opened. From this we come to a room, 80 feet long by 20 feet wide, used principally for storing original packages. In one corner of this room are the lavatories for those employed on the premises. Proceeding through to the back we come to large rooms where the stocks of floorcloth and linoleum are kept, and were struck with the appliances for handling this heavy stuff, rolls 18 feet wide being opened, displayed and put up again on rollers in a few minutes with the greatest ease. Adjoining this is the delivery department, a spacious area, with an entrance to St. Asaph street, where there is every convenience in the shape of trucks, baskets on wheels, and minature tramways to facilitate the handling of goods. From here we proceed to the cabinet maker's workshop, 130 feet long by 35 feet wide, where a large number of hands are at work at furniture in all stages of progress, including a very handsome overmantel to be sent to the Industrial Exhibition in Wellington. In here are all kinds of wood working machinery, for moulding, mortising, planing, sawing, turning, &c., and for doing fret work. Adjoining the cabinet workshop is one occupied by wood carvers where the ornamental carvings for the various articles of furniture are done by experienced workmen. We next visit a range of buildings devoted to upholstering and bedding making, of which we need give no description, and some out-buildings containing the motive power for all the machinery, a Riches and Watt (for which firm Mr Coles is agent), a hair teasing machine, and a machine for crushing the food for the twelve horses used in furniture vans of the establishment.

A few minutes devoted to inspecting timber yard, where logs, flitches, and boards of kauri, rimu, walnut, &c., are stacked for seasoning, are not thrown away; nor at the stables. There are also six ordinary furniture vans, and one van built specially capable of carrying upwards of five tons, and which holds the contents of an eight-roomed house. This, we understand, was an idea page 192of Mr Coles, the general manager of the establishment, in which he has been seventeen years, and we take this opportunity to express our sense of the kindness with which he devoted himself to us on our visit, explaining everything and giving all kinds of information.

The cabinet workshop is under the charge of Mr Grogan, and the upholstering under Mr. Kircher. In all about 80 hands are employed on the premises.