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Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Canterbury edition. Vol. 3  Published 1903 -  WINCHESTER


Reference: Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Canterbury edition. Vol. 3  pages 889-894. Published 1903

WINCHESTER is a rural township situated midway between Temuka and Orari, on the main south railway line, about sixteen miles to the north of Timaru.  The district is one of the gardens of New Zealand.  Its prosperity is patent to the most superficial observer, and it is known as one of the best grain producing areas of Canterbury.  The farms are comparatively large, and the homesteads testify to the prosperity of the owners.  The south road runs through the township, the buildings in which, though not large, suggest prosperity.  Winchester has an Anglican church, a good flour mill, with up-to-date machinery, two hotels, two good general stores, a blacksmith's shop, a library, a public school, and two large wool scouring establishments.  The Winchester river, in the immediate neighbourhood of the town, the Orari and the Rangitata rivers, distant respectively about three and eight miles to the north, with the Temuka and the Opihi four miles to the south, are counted with the best trout fishing streams in Canterbury; and anglers from various parts of Australia, and even from the Home Country, annually visit the district during the fishing season.  Remarkably good roads abound in the district, and cyclists can enjoy a run to Temuka and Geraldine. The latter township is about seven miles from Winchester. From Geraldine the trip can be continued by equally good roads to Mount Peel, and the beautiful Rangitata Gorge, whence fine views if the country from the mountains to the sea repay the traveller for the fatigues of the journey.

Major J.A. Young.  Standard and Preece, photoMajor John Albert YOUNG, V.D., founder of the township of Winchester, was born at Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, England, in 1832, and was educated there.  He was apprenticed to the cabinet-making trade in London, and resided there for eight years, and was married to Miss Tarrant of Plastow, Essex.  Leaving London in October, 1858, for Timaru, by the ship "Strathallan," Captain Williams, he worked for sometime in the bush, and then started a business as a carpenter and builder.  He went into partnership for a time with Mr. Phillip Dale (now Timaru), and then took the Arowhenua Hotel, where he remained three years; he then engaged in business as a storekeeper and butcher at Georgetown, Temuka, and afterwards opened a similar business at Waimate.  Returning to Winchester, be built the Winchester Hotel, the first public house there, and two years later built and conducted the Royal Hotel at Temuka.  After some years, he returned to Winchester, let the hotel and built another, the "Wolseley," which he conducted for about five years.  On leaving this hotel, Mr. Young carried on a storekeeper's business for some three years.  In Winchester, he owns the two hotels, a store, and a private residence named "The Villa." For sometime he carried on farming on a small scale.  Major Young has always retained his interest in volunteering, and was one of the prompters of the Temuka Rifles, which were enrolled in 1868.  He was promoted to ensign in that year, lieutenant in 1870, captain in 1875 and major (unattached) in 1883, and has received the long service and imperial medals.  He was quarter-master of the South Canterbury battalion until it was disbanded in 1888, and has served the full limit of service for an officer allowed by the volunteer regulations.  In 1873 he paid a visit to England for the benefit of his health.  He is a member of the Masonic Lodge, was chairman of the school committee for some years, and has been chairman of the Winchester Domain Board and sports Association since 1882.  He has seven children, all of whom are married.

WINCHESTER HOTEL (Angus McKay, proprietor), Winchester. This well-known hostelry is situated on the main line of railway, sixteen miles north of Timaru, and was established about 1863.  It contains twenty-four well-furnished rooms, a large well-ventilated dinning room, and a billiard room, fitted up with one of Alcock's tables.  There are numerous well stocked trout streams close to the hotel, which is patronised by farmers, anglers, commercial travellers, and by drovers, who find the securely fenced and well watered paddocks attached to the hotel a great convenience. There are good stables on the premises.

Mr. Angus McKAY, the Proprietor, was born at Ledmore, Amberley, in 1868.  His parents removed to Totara Valley in 1869, and to Kakahu in 1877, and he was educated at Hilton.  Mr. McKay was brought up to pastoral life, and has always taken an active part in athletic sports.  He was married in 1889, to Miss Wills, of Waimate.

Wolseley Hotel.  Weeks Ltd.  photo.WOLSELEY HOTEL  (Thomas Langdon, proprietor), Winchester. This hotel was built in 1864 by Major Young.  The bar and palours are downstairs, as well as the dinning room, which measures 24 feet by 18 feet; single and double bedrooms, a hot and cold bath, and two sitting-rooms are upstairs. The grounds are beautifully laid out with macrocarpa and pinus insignus, and the hotel itself is the favourable resort of trout fishers, and is visited by tourists and others from all parts of the world.  Lord Hampton, formerly governor of New South Wales, Major Fergusson, and Mr. Fairfax, one of the proprietors of the "Sydney Morning Herald," have stayed at the "Wolseley." During the fishing season of 1897-98, 2662 trout, weighing 3282 pounds, were caught by visitors staying at the hotel.  The most noticeable basket was taken by Mr. C. Opie, in the Opihi river by night with fly, and consisted of seventeen fish weighing exactly 100 pounds; one of the seventeen weighed thirteen and a half pounds. [A picture of the fish thus caught appears at page 59 of this volume under the head of Angling.] Mr. C. Harr caught the largest fish taken out of the river; it weighed fourteen and a half pounds.  Major Fergusson, an angler form England, caught during two visits 141 trout, weighing 1241 pounds, an average of 4.4 pounds per trout.  Yet during the season the fly-fishing rivers were dried up, though the Rangitata came down in flood as usual, at intermittent periods

Mr. Thomas LANGDON, the Proprietor of the Wolseley Hotel, was born in Devonshire, England, in 1838, and came out to New Zealand in 1862, when he landed at Nelson from the "Albemarie." He was for thirteen years in the Nelson district, and was on the principal goldfields of Otago and the West Coast. He afterwards resided at Timaru, where he followed his profession as landscape gardener. In 1891, he took over the hotel at Winchester, and from a position of obscurity it has risen under his management to popularity as the pleasantest resort in South Canterbury tourists and fishermen. Mr. Langdon married Miss Mary Anne Kearns, who was born in Nelson, to which her father had come by the first iron ship, and has one daughter.  In 1883, Mr. Langdon made a trip to the Old Country, and returned the same year.

WINCHESTER WOOL SCOURING WORKS (D. McCaskill, proprietor) Winchester.  These works were established in 1869.  They are erected on the banks of a stream of soft water, close to the railway station, and fitted up with the latest improved machinery.  The drying ground is second none, and is entirely immune from drifting sand or any other foreign matter. From ten to sixteen hands are employed all the year; from 1200 to 1500 bales of greasy wool are scoured annually, and about 50,000 sheepskins are treated in the fellmongery.  All the pelts are cured at the works.  Mr McCaskill has other scouring works at Fairlie, where he puts through a large quantity of wool, on account of station holders and farmers throughout the Mackenzie Country. photo by Weeks Ltd.

Mr and Mrs D. McCaskillMr D. McCASKILL, the Proprietor, was born in Milton, Otago, in 1869, and was educated at Temuka.  He was married, in 1895, to Miss Bisset, of Orari, and has one son and one daughter.  Mr. McCaskill is a vice president of the Temuka Bicycle Club, and a prominent member of the South Canterbury Rugby Union.

THE WINCHESTER ROLLER FLOUR MILL (William Harrison, lessee), Winchester. This old established mill was erected by the late Mr. Daniel Inwood, the first miller in Canterbury.  It had a successful history as a three-stone mill for years, but the universal change from stones to rolls compelled the owner to covert it into a roller flour mill, and supply it with the finest and most modern machinery.  The mill's capacity is now two-and-a-half sacks per hour, on a system of four breaks and six reductions.  It is provided with cleaning machines, separators, a magnetic wire-extractor, smutter and brush machine.  The building is three stories in height, and it has abundant room for storage of wheat.  Motive power is supplied by a new American turbine of thirty-two horse power. The turbine is twenty-five inches in diameter, and it is operated by water with a head of fifteen feet. Most of the machinery was supplied by the well known Manchester firm of Henry Simon. "Reform" is the brand borne by the mill's four, which finds an ever ready sale in the district. photo by Weeks Ltd: Interior view Winchester Roller Mill

Mr William HARRISON is a Yorkshireman, who came to New Zealand in 1880, and after being for sometime on the Longbeach estate he worked for two years at the Winchester flour mill then leased by Mr. Murray.  Mr. Harrison then visited America and spent two years in one of the largest mills in Minneapolis.  After that he visited England, where he remained eighteen months, and then returned to New Zealand by the way of Melbourne and Sydney.  Mr. Inwood offered him employment in the Winchester mill, and he worked there for about three years prior to taking a lease of it when Mr. Inwood retired from the business in 1889.  Mr. Harrison is a member of the Winchester library committee, and one of the trustees of the public hall.

Mr. J. OpieOPIE AND SONS (John Opie) General Storekeepers, Butchers, and Bakers, Winchester.  Established in 1891.  Mr John Opie, the principal in this business, was born in Cornwall, England, in 1843, and was brought to farming. In 1866, he left England for New Zealand by the ship "Glenmark," and landed at Timaru.  He went straight to Waimate, where he was for seven years engaged in bush work, and afterwards roadmaking for the Waimate Road Board.  Mr. Opie entered the service of Messes Manchester Bros. and Goldsmith, and was the firm's accountant for thirteen years, when he left for Winchester to established his present business.  Three of Mr Opie's sons are in business with him; the eldest, Alfred Thomas, is engaged in the wool business, and is also well known in athletic circles.  When in Waimate Mr. Opie was a member of the Waimate school committee; he belonged to the Waimate Rifle Corps, and was also choir master of the local Wesleyan choir.  He has been Worshipful Master of the Lodge of Freemasons, No. 1737, and is also a member of the local school committee.  Mr. Opie was married in the Old Country, just before sailing of the "Glenmark," to Miss Collins, also of Cornwall, and they have a family of nine.


AITKEN, John, Farmer, Smithfield, near Winchester. Mr Aitken was born in London in 1843, and came to Lyttelton in 1868 by the ship "Blue Jacket." After landing, he went to Timaru, under engagement to the late Mr. Elworthy, of Pareora station, where he was shepherding for seven years.  He was leased, and afterwards bought his farm of 808 acres. The state has been subdivided into paddocks, cleared, and cultivated, and is devoted to sheepfarming and wheat growing.  Mr Aitken has never held any public office, although he has always taken a great and active interest in the advancement of the district in which he has his home.

BUDD, William, Farmer, Winchester.  Mr Budd, who has seen and been connected with the early development of South Canterbury, was born in Staffordshire, England, in 1843, and was brought up to farming.  In 1863, he came out to New Zealand in the ship, "Lancashire Witch," and landed at Timaru. He worked for Mr. Rhodes at Levels station during the shearing seasons, and purchased a small farm at Winchester in 1865, and gradually increased his holding.  Though he has taken no active part in public affairs, Mr Budd is well acquainted with the early history of Canterbury, and can recall many interesting occurrences of the old days.  In 1889, he sold his farm and purchased another one of 313 acres, also at Winchester, and there he resides, and carries on mixed farming.  Mr Budd's first wife, whom he married in England in 1863, died in the Colony.  He subsequently married Miss Mills, of Christchurch, and they have two sons and three daughters.

Mr. W. De Renzy. Ferrier photoDe RENZY, William, Farmer, "Hunnington," Winchester.  Mr De Renzy was born in Carnew, County of Wicklow, Ireland, in 1837, and is the youngest son of the late Dr. Thomas De Renzy.  He came to New Zealand by the ship "Egmont," to Lyttelton, in 1856, and went as a cadet on the Hororata station for eighteen months.  Afterwards he rented a run at Lake Ellesmere from Messrs Harman and Davie, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr G. Gordon.  The partnership lasted two years, but Mr De Renzy carried on the run till 1863, and kept both cattle and sheep.  He then visited the Old Country, and returned to New Zealand in 1871.  After coming back he managed a farm at Selwyn for some time.  Then on the 20th May 1874, he went to Winchester and took charge of the "Hunnington Farm"  of 1100 acres, and managed it for the Hon. Spencer George Lyttelton for twelve years., when he took the property on lease, and is carrying it on with sheep farming and agriculture.  Mr. De Renzy has been a member of the Winchester school committee for many years, and has also been its chairman. He has been W.M. of the Winchester Masonic Lodge on several occasions, and was a member of the Geraldine Road Board for twelve years.  Mr De Renzy has taken a great interest in fishing, and has a lot of rainbow trout in his ponds.  The Waihi river runs through the property, and a distance of three miles would be covered by the angler who followed the bends of the stream from one end of the property to the other. Mr De Renzy was married, in 1881, to a daughter of Major Young, of Winchester, and has a family of eight.

Mr. J. LewisLEWIS, Joseph, Farmer, "Blannant," Geraldine Road, Winchester. Mr Lewis was born in Glamorganshire, South Wales, England, in 1831, and was brought up to farming.  He came to New Zealand in 1862 by the ship "Echunga," landed at Timaru, and worked at Temuka for the late Mr. John Hayhurst for some time, after which he went into the bush, contracting and pit sawing.  Later he bought twenty acres of land on the Geraldine Road, and took to farming and contract work.  Now he has a compact freehold farm of about 300 acres, and keeps sheep and cattle.  He occasionally keeps a stud flock.  Mr Lewis is a member of the Geraldine Flat school committee, and was also one of the first to go on the school committee when the Winchester school was opened.  He was married in the Old Country, and has a family of eight.

PRATTLEY, Frederick, Farmer, Winchester.  Mr Prattley, was born in Oxfordshire, England, in 1843, and was brought up to farming.  In 1873, he came out to New Zealand in the ship "Crusader," and landed at Lyttelton. Thence he went to Temuka, where three years later he leased a farm from Mr Hayhurst, and remained there for twelve years.  In 1888 he took up a farm near Temuka, where he has since resided.  Mr Prattley was married in the Old Country, but his wife died in New Zealand, leaving him with a family of four sons and one daughter.  In 1895, he married Miss Elizabeth Simmons, of Oxfordshire, England, and there is one child by this marriage. brother

Mr and Mrs A. Shaw.  photo by Weeks Ltd.SHAW, Alexander, Farmer, "Greenvale Farm," Winchester.  Mr Shaw is the fourth son of Mr David Shaw. of Geraldine Flat, and was born at Winchester, and educated at the public school.  He was brought up to farming by his father, and in 1896 purchased his present farm from Mr Alexander Clyne; its area is ninety-five acres of the best soil on the district.  He has also a farm of 975 acres at Rangitata.  Mr Shaw was married to Annie, youngest daughter of Mr. Archibald Mahan, schoolmaster, of Geraldine Flat.

YOUNG, Frances Michael, Farmer, "Brookfield," Winchester. Mr Young was born at Haverford West, Wales and came with his parents to New Zealand in 1863.  Mr Young, senior, went to Heathcote for six years, but moved thence to Winchester, and took up land at Waitohi Flat, where he died in 1892.  Mr. F.M. Young purchased "Brookfield" in 1890, and cultivated the land ever since.  In addition to general farming, he is a breeder of a pure strain of English Leicester sheep.  He married Miss Elizabeth Josling, daughter of the late Mr John Josling, of Rangiora, who was one of the early settlers who came out in the "first four ships."

SMITH, Robert, Farmer, Wool Scourer, Fellmonger, and Flax Miller, Smithfield, Winchester. Mr Smith as born in Halswell, near Christchurch, in 1853.  His father, the late Mr Robert Evans Smith, was manager of the Mount Peel station, and subsequently leased, from the late Mr Tripp, Orari Gorge station, where he was for five years, when he took up Smithfield farm, near Winchester. The subject of this sketch was educated at the High School, Christchurch, and was apprenticed to the wheelwright and millwright trade with Messes John Anderson and Sons, Christchurch.  On completing his time he went to Winchester, where he was for ten years in business as a wheelwright. He afterwards established wool-scouring works at Smithfield, and flax-mill added later. In 1890, he went for a trip to England with his wife, to whom he married in 1878, and who is a daughter of the late Mr John Gibbs Hart, a very early settler of Rangiora.  On returning the following year, Mr Smith in addition to his other vocations, entered onto farming pursuits on his farm of 900 acres.  He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and an active adherent of the Church of England, and was for a term a member of the Temuka Road Board.  His brother-in-law, Mr Thomas Lawson Hart, is a partner in his wool-scouring business. photo of Smith Wool Works.

6 July 2002 Timaru Herald

- 1871: George Howard spends �124 founding the woolscour
- 1926: first scouring machine installed
- 1930: Baker family buys the factory
- 1942: daily output 35 wool bales
- 1970: UEB Industries acquire controlling interest
- 1982: destructive fire causes estimated losses of $5 million
- 1987: Robert Ferrier becomes the owner
- 1988: $1.6 million spent on the world's first computerised blending system
- 1994: discharge resource consents granted
- 2002: 48 employees, producing 800 containers of wool a year, contributing more than $3 million to the community.
- 2002: ECan commences review of resource consent conditions following Waihi River pollution concerns

A small town suffering rural decline is backing its main industry, Ferrier Woolscours, all the way. Ferrier Woolscours managing director Stephen Harrison seems a no-nonsense sort of man. He protects his business like a terrier. Environment Canterbury (Ecan) this week announced it would review the resource consents, despite Ferrier Woolscours having fully complied since they were granted in 1994. Investigations have revealed a significant degradation of aquatic life in the Waihi River. While it was clear this reporter would not be welcomed in Winchester with open arms, there are hopes the door might open another day. "I don't think people realise. We know, the district knows, the value this plant has to the economy - $2.5 million worth of wages plus, plus, plus, plus," Mr Harrison stormed. "They will get a heck of a shock if the plant ever goes." But it seems the only thing about the scour getting up local residents' noses was the smell, mainly remedied some time ago with pond covers. "It's been said before and never happened," hotel cook Leslie Benton and publican John Hunt said this week. The plant had always bounced back from downturn. And no-one really wanted to get political about the scour, they said. South Canterbury was founded on wool trade. In the earliest days of export to London, in the 1800s, New Zealand wool was noted for its soundness and cleanliness. There were two scours in Winchester's early days as Waihi Crossing. One was the predecessor of Ferrier and the other was operated by Smithfield until it closed about 1920. In those days up to 20 men forked wool into circular washboxes constantly flushed with creek water, returning all effluent to the Waihi River. The scour changed hands many times before being purchased by the Ferrier family in the 1980s. Since then it has earned a reputation for pioneering new technology, thanks to the inventiveness of Robert Ferrier, now one of the company's minority shareholders. There are 48 workers at the scour, earning a wage bill of about $2.5 million, while the company budgets another $800,000 a year for repairs and maintenance. That money is ploughed back into the local Winchester economy. Meanwhile the company ships as many as possible of the 800 containers it produces annually through the Port of Timaru, chairwoman Mary Ann Ferrier said yesterday. "We would like to use Timaru Port exclusively but it depends on what shipping lines are coming in and out," she said. Mrs Ferrier believes the scour has a bright future - or had, before Ecan decided to review the resource consents. "At no time have we breached our consents and we've always run the scour in a reasonable way ... the wool industry is in a huge retraction but wool still must be scoured somewhere," she said. The Ferriers have been in the industry for more than 40 years and were encouraged by Ecan to spread effluent to land, Mrs Ferrier said. "It is not as if we are new-comers and wilfully polluting the back yard." Given the company's reputation for advancement, she was disappointed with Ecan's approach over the resource consents, but wanted to work with the council to sort out problems. "We are certainly not doing anything different to what we were doing when we got our consents," she said. Between 300-500 people live in Winchester. Recently, residents have been picking up work at the nearby Clandeboye dairy company. Rating the area's biggest employers, "it'll be Clandeboye first, then the scour, then [engineers] Anderson and Rooney," Wolseley Hotel publican John Hunt said. Mr Hunt has been running the pub for eight years, specialising in truckie accommodation. The scour entrance runs past the hotel and he reckons he gets his fair share of the workers' wages. "To be perfectly honest, the scour does not bother me," he said. In a town suffering from rural decline the community had to protect its assets, he said. Gone is the town's first hotel, the Catholic Church, the flour-mill and limeworks, two dairies and a tearooms. "What we've got, we've got to hang on to. To survive, you've got to have the local support," Mr Hunt said. Former scour employee Eileen Toomey (79) was one of about 10 women who kept the plant going while many of the district's men were away fighting in the Second World War. She lives next door to the scour and has noticed many workers come from Geraldine or Temuka these days. "Very few Winchester people work there now compared to what there used to be. All the Winchester men used to work there," Mrs Toomey said. Her husband Leslie worked at the scour from the age of 15 until he retired at 60 and both her daughters have also had jobs there. Mr Toomey died last year aged 79. She could not imagine the town without the scour. "It never, ever will [close]. It goes 24 hours a day. It smells sometimes but why would I want to complain when I worked there, when my husband worked there for 45 years ... would I complain. Surely, I would not," Mrs Toomey said. By Marjory Cross

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