8 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

eminder of a once busy

eminder of a once busy work place. Charles was the local undertaker for many years and advertised this role in the Anglican Church magazine. William Geddes was a signatory to the letter supporting Andrew Arklie's application for a wine and beer licence. Although a farmer, he was obviously willing to try new ventures, for in September 1872 he opened the Lincoln Brewery which seemed to have a bright future. According to the Press 23 it was "situated a few hundred yards from the township, on Mr Geddes' own land" a perceived advantage over competitors because there was no rent to pay and there was a "capital supply of beautiful water from two wells" which further enhanced the enterprise. The brewery, 53 feet x 22 feet, was built with sod walls, the better to maintain an even temperature, and was to be improved by the addition of a malt house and a kiln within the year. The brewer, a partner in the business, was a Mr Stevenson who had worked for brewers in Christchurch, and “brought considerable experience to the business”. A cask of ale entered in the local show was said to be "clear, and possessed a good body, but wanted age to complete it" and although there were no competitors the entry was awarded first prize! The brewery did not realise the bright future predicted for it and after a few years ceased to operate and all trace of it disappeared. Although it was said to have been built on Geddes's land its location is something of a mystery. However, land may have come under his control when he married Hannah Broome, a widow whose late husband’s farm was close to the present golf course and cemetery on Boundary Road. This land was eventually taken over by David Broome, Hannah's son, by which time William and Hannah had apparently left the district and have not been traced. In July 1861 FitzGerald wrote to Henry Selfe Selfe, a friend in England, that he hoped to have a mill ready by 1863 to handle the rapidly increasing grain harvest. He asked for prices of English manufactured machinery 24 in order to compare local costs and enclosed details of his plans to build on the L1 for which he owned the water rights. FitzGerald left the district before he could build his mill and it was not until 1867 that the dream became reality when Henry Moffat announced in the Lyttelton Times that his flour mill was ready for business and he hoped by “manufacturing a good article and strict attention to business, to merit a share of public patronage.” The mill, built just outside village limits on land bought from William Tod on the banks of the L1 River (the Liffey), played an important role in the local and provincial economy. A dam was built 28

across the L1 and the mill pond which formed behind it soon became a local attraction as well as a source of frustration for the Road Board and the Lincoln Domain Board because of poor maintenance and frequent pollution. The product was good and the growing demand for his services ensured that Mr. Moffat’s business was a successful one. Within a few years the mill was employing four men and producing well over 600 tons of flour and the Lyttelton Times 25 reported that Mr Moffat, who commenced business seven years ago on a very small scale, having then but a small building and driving only one pair of stones, has now one of the largest country mills in Canterbury, driving three pairs of stones, silk dresser, and other machinery, with storage room for about 20,000 bushels of grain. Mr Moffat has recently started on the road to town a team comprising a pair of fine three year old draught colts, fitted out with harness of colonial manufacture. The wagon is capable of carrying six tons, and reflects great credit upon Mr H. Meyenberg, wheelwright of Lincoln. With the Lincoln mill operating successfully Henry looked for a new challenge and so in 1878 decided to build a mill at Wakanui, near Ashburton, which opened for business in September 1879. Sadly, this venture failed in the harsh economic times of the 1880s, and in May 1881, unable to meet his commitments, he was declared bankrupt and his Lincoln and Wakanui mills and other holdings were advertised for sale by public auction in May, 1881. The Lincoln mill was advertised 26 as a lucrative business and let for 350 pounds a year along with four houses and twelve acres of land. Also for auction was a farm of 181 acres which “for quality of soil cannot be surpassed” and the Wakanui mill and adjoining farm of 96 acres. The Lincoln mill and houses were sold to Samuel Early of Broadfield, but the other properties were not. Mr. Moffat returned to Lincoln in August 1892, and if he operated the mill, he must have leased it or managed it, for by 1896 Samuel Early was having his own financial troubles. It was taken over by the Bank of New South Wales and about a year later, on 30 April 1897, George John Maber became the owner and when he died in November 1908 it passed to his widow Agnes who sold it nearly twenty years later to Charles Munro Smith, son of pioneer G.A. Smith. There has been some confusion regarding Mr. Maber’s death. According to popular belief he disappeared one night when he went for a walk. It was thought that he drowned in the mill pond, his body carried over the dam into the L1 and never found. However, his death notice in the Lyttelton Times 27 reads Maber – On November 6 th , at his residence, Lincoln, George J. Maber, of 29

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