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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

Messrs. Aulsebrook & Go.'s Steam Biscuit Factory

Messrs. Aulsebrook & Go.'s Steam Biscuit Factory.

This factory, which was originally established in Colombo-street in 1868, is now situated at the corner of St. Asaph and Montreal streets, and covers an acre of ground. The building is a plain, substantial two-storey one, of red brick with stone facings. Passing through the offices the visitor enters a large, lofty room, where the principal part of the work of making biscuits and cakes is progressing, and one is struck by the thorough cleanliness everywhere evident; the machinery is all bright and polished, and tables and implements are clean as possible. Commencing at the first process we notice a huge "mixer," in which half a ton of flour for biscuits is thoroughly mixed in a quarter of an hour. The dough is then run through steel rollers, cut into strips, and passed on to a self-feeding and delivering biscuit cutter, where it is cut into biscuits. These latter are, by the machine, passed on to wire trays, which boys remove as fast as they are filled, and they are then ready for the oven. The cuttings of the dough are collected ready to be again rolled out. The trays, with the biscuits on them, are passed into a travelling oven (by T. & T. Vigors, of Liverpool), 30 feet long. Through this oven, which is heated from the top and the bottom, two sets of endless chains move slowly, carrying with them a constant supply of trays; and by the time they have passed through the oven—the heat of which is regulated to a nicety by twelve dampers—the biscuits are baked and ready for sale. The process from first to last—from the first mixing of the dough to the completion of the biscuits—is so rapid that half a ton of flour can be converted into biscuits, ready to be packed up for sale, in about two hours and a half. The biscuit cutters are furnished with moveable moulds, of which the firm have a large stock, of all kinds of patterns, on hand, so that those can be fitted in suitable for the kind of biscuit being made at the time. The oven is driven by two conical drums, which can be worked at any speed. The coal used for heating it is principally from the Homebush Colliery, the consumption being about five tons per week.

Besides the machinery and ovens for the manufacture of biscuits, there is all the necessary plant for making cakes, fancy biscuits, gingerbread, &c. There is a cake mixing machine for mixing materials for 100 lbs. of cake at a time, and two ovens page 197for baking cakes, each of them 7 feet by 7 feet; a machine for making gingerbread nuts;. a sugar mill, in which the white sugar used in the manufactory is ground as fine and soft as flour; a machine for making cracknells, and another for making "African Shoots," or Queens. In one corner of this building is an 8 h.p. nominal (Riches & Watt) engine, which supplies the motive power for all the machinery, and which also drives the circular saw used for cutting up the timber used for making the cases (which are made on the premises) in which the goods are sent all over the colony, and to Australia. The tins in which the biscuits are packed up are made in Christchurch, and are an important branch of the tinsmiths' trade here, the consumption being six gross of large, and three gross of smaller tins per week. At the commencement of the season the firm requires 10,000 dozen eggs—which are preserved in lime—and 800 kegs of butter.

The packing room, where the biscuits are packed in tins by girls, is upstairs. Here, ten or twelve girls can always be seen packing and labelling the tins, and getting them ready to send away.