Tag Archives: Woollen mills

Craigie House

Built: 1918
Address: 22 Manse Street
Architects: Mason & Wales
Builders: Fletcher Bros

Craigie_Nov2014

Building work in Dunedin continued through World War I, despite the wide-ranging ramifications of the conflict. Labour and materials were more difficult and expensive to source, but the government did not impose restrictions and, at the end of 1916, one Dunedin architect estimated costs for house construction had increased only 7 or 8 per cent. This figure was thought too conservative by one local builder, who claimed that the price of timber alone added more than 30 per cent. He said the cost of bricks had increased by about 20 per cent, while steel had risen between 200 and 300 per cent.

One of the more imposing new structures built during the war was for Rutherfords Ltd, on the corner of Manse and High streets. The manufacture and importation of clothing and textiles was big business at this time. Companies based in Dunedin included Ross & Glendining, Hallenstein’s, Sargood Son & Ewen, and Butterworth Bros. These firms all had large factories and warehouses, each a hive of activity in the heart of city.

In 1914 one of Butterworths’ former departmental managers, Alfred James Rutherford, led the formation of Rutherfords Ltd, a company set up to carry on the business of ‘wholesale and retail drapers and furnishers and general warehousemen in all its branches’. The founding shareholders were all from the Rutherford, Walker, and Ritchie families.

By 1915 Rutherfords was operating from Manse Street. Old wooden buildings on the site dated back to 1860-1861, when they had been built for the Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics’ Institution to the designs of William Langlands. They were used as the City Council Chambers in the 1870s, and later as offices by the Railways Department, before being put to commercial use. Additions were made to the original structure.

Craigie_Athenaeum

Detail from a Burton Bros photograph showing the Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics’ Institution in 1869. Ref: Te Papa C.012523

Architects Mason & Wales called for tenders for a new Rutherfords warehouse in January 1918. What is now New Zealand’s oldest architectural firm was then under the control of Patrick Young Wales, the son of co-founder N.Y.A. Wales. Paddy Wales was described a man ‘who did not countenance any suspicion of shoddy work and, as many a builder knew, he would use a knife to check on the mortar between brickwork. If it did not measure up then he was known, on occasions, to kick a wall down’. The firm designed a wide variety of buildings, its biggest contracts in the first half of the twentieth century being for hospital buildings in Dunedin and wider Otago.

Fletcher Bros (forerunner of the Fletcher Construction Co.) was the building company for Rutherfords. Demolition work was carried out in February 1918 and the estimated completion date was June. The building cost nearly £5,000, at a time when modest but well-constructed houses could be built for less than £400.

The First World War was in its final year and the writer of an Otago Daily Times report hoped the new building signalled better times ahead and the end of Dunedin’s longer-term commercial decline:

‘The spirit of enterprise that has marked the career of many present day firms of long standing in Dunedin is also manifest in firms of recent formation. It was largely owing to that spirit that Dunedin was placed in the commercial forefront in New Zealand years ago, and its manifestation in more than one direction at present, even during war conditions, is an evidence that the position the city held in that respect in former times may yet return to it.’

Rutherfords’ building was described as an up-to-date warehouse of imposing appearance and commanding position. It has three levels (a basement and two storeys above) and was designed to carry an additional two storeys if required. The foundations are concrete and the outer walls are constructed of steel-reinforced concrete and brick. Most of the internal construction is timber. The ground floor originally housed a large warehouse space, public and private offices, a strong-room, and a lift-well. The upper storey was divided into a millinery showroom, workroom, dining room, and cloakroom.

The facade architecture is of the transitional type favoured at the time. Elements of Renaissance Revival, Queen Anne, Stripped Classical and industrial influences are all discernible. Exposed brickwork uses varied patterns and shows a high standard of execution. Other features include rustication at the basement level, pilasters rising to a height of two storeys, and mullioned steel-framed windows with shallow-arched heads. The glazing was generously proportioned to let in plenty of natural light, and it was reported that the quantity of glass needed made very serious inroads into the short supplies available in wartime conditions.

Rutherfords did not get much use out of their building as the company was wound up in 1920. A sale notice described the building as a ‘modern up-to-date warehouse substantially built in brick, with two storeys and lofty concrete basement; well lighted and ventilated, and dry as a board. The warehouse is of stylish design, and the provision made for lighting makes it perfect in this respect’.

In 1921 the building was sold to the Wellington Woollen Manufacturing Co., owners of the well-known ‘Petone’ brand and northern rivals to Dunedin’s Ross & Glendining (‘Roslyn’) and Mosgiel woollen mills.

Craigie_PetoneKnittingPattern

Kaiapoi Petone Group Textiles Ltd: Petone knitting design no.5003. Man’s lumber jacket, by and copyright to M.W. Jarvis Productions Ltd., Dunedin print Ltd, c.1965. Ref: Alexander Turnbull Library Eph-A-KNIT-1965-01-front.

Few changes were made to the building over the next forty years, although a new entrance from High Street was added in 1934 and some modest internal alterations made. In 1962 the Wellington Woollen Manufacturing Co. merged with the Kaiapoi Woollen Co. to become Kaiapoi Petone Group Textiles Ltd (KPG) and the Dunedin branch office consolidated on the Manse Street site. This company was in turn taken over by the Mosgiel Woollen Co. in 1972, and KPG finally vacated the building in 1975.

The building had always been larger than the textile business required, with early tenants including John McDonald Ltd (furriers, costumiers, tailors) and W.J. Watson (tailor). Through the 1960s part of the building was leased to the signwriters Tyrrell & Holmes, and from 1972 to 1986 the principal occupant was Rank Xerox. The canvas department of J. McGrath & Co. also occupied part of the premises in the 1970s and 80s.

In 1986, Craigie House Ltd was established as the company owning the building, taking its new name from one of the directors. Office and other spaces have been let to various commercial tenants since this time, and within the building’s walls might still be found the ‘spirit of enterprise’ with which it was first associated.

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times 4 May 1914 p.4 (registration of Rutherfords), 18 October 1916 p.5 (Mandeno on cost increases), 26 January 1918 p.1 (call for tenders), 9 February 1918 p.6 (new building), 25 August 1921 p.4 (purchase by Wellington Woollen Manufacturing Co.), 19 March 1986 p.31 (Rank Xerox move); Evening Star 25 October 1916 p.6 (dispute of Mandeno’s figures), 8 February 1918 p.6 (demolition and new building), 12 Jun 1920 p.9 (for sale, description)

Other sources:
Directories (Harnett’s, Stone’s, Wises, and telephone)
Dunedin City Council building records
Secker, T.M. Riding Upon the Sheep’s Back: A Business and Social History of the Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Company Limited 1878-1978 (MA Thesis, University of Canterbury, 2001).
Sullivan, Jim. Reading Matters: A History of the Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics’ Institute (Dunedin: the Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics’ Institute, 2013).

Special thanks to Mason & Wales Architects for access to their historic records.

Kaiapoi Building

Built: 1915-1917
Address: 17 Moray Place
Architects: Salmond & Vanes (James Louis Salmond)
Builder: Joseph Eli White

Few visitors to Dunedin would walk past the Kaiapoi Building without noticing it, and it is much loved by many of the city’s residents. Its bold street presence and finely executed design make it one of the architectural highlights of the central city.

The building replaced a structure that had been built in 1874 for the wine and spirit merchant Frederick Lewis, to the design of architect E.J. Sanders. That building became G.R. West & Co.’s organ showrooms and Academy of Music (teaching rooms) and later Dagmar College (a private girls’ school). It became the premises of the Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Company in about 1899.

The Kaiapoi Company had been established in 1878 with a large woollen mill at Kaiapoi, Canterbury.  It became one of the largest industrial concerns in New Zealand and the ‘Kaiapoi’ brand of wool products, ranging from blankets to underwear and suits, was known throughout Australasia. The Dunedin building was a branch office and the firm was in direct competition with the big Otago mills of Ross & Glendining (‘Roslyn’), Mosgiel, and Bruce (Milton).   All of these mills used the best quality materials to produce very high quality goods, and a couple of Kaiapoi blankets are still in regular use in my own house. Kaiapoi slogans included ‘The Dominion’s best’ and ‘The best that grows into Kaiapoi goes’ (a reference to the high quality of the wool).

In 1915 Kaiapoi commissioned the architects Salmond & Vanes to design a new building on their Moray Place site. Diaries in the Hocken Collections show that James Louis Salmond (1868-1950) was responsible for the design and project management, although recently published sources incorrectly name W.H. Dunning as the architect.

The building was erected in two stages, with the contractor for both being Joseph Eli White. The first contract was signed on 21 July 1915 and involved the demolition of buildings at the back of the site and the construction of the back portion of the new building, which was temporarily connected to the 1874 structure.  The contract price was £2,648. The second contract was signed on 19 May 1916 and involved the demolition of the 1874 building at the front of the site and the construction of the front portion of the new building. The contract price was £2,621. The building was completed in 1917 and officially opened on 19 March that year. The final cost for the second stage was £3,265.

Side elevation drawing from 1915 showing the first stage of the building erected at the back of the property, temporarily connected to the old 1874 building at the front (Hocken Collections MS-3821/2052)

The architecture is in the Edwardian baroque manner, a style that drew from the seventeenth century designs of Christopher Wren and eighteenth century French architecture. One of the grandest examples in New Zealand is the old Chief Post Office in Auckland. In Dunedin, the old National Bank in Princes Street is the largest and perhaps most impressive example. The Kaiapoi building incorporates large columns, characteristic of the style, and there is much visual interest in details such as the carved Ionic capitals and floral motifs. The cement work was stone-coloured, and warmer-looking than an ordinary cement finished. It has since been painted a number of times. Interior features included mosaic tiles in the stairwell, red pine woodwork finished with French polish, stained Oregon fittings, and a stamped zinc ceiling in a light cream colour. A large lantern light on the roof lit the interior.

Kaiapoi continued to occupy the building until about 1963, the year the company merged with the Wellington Woollen Company to form Kaiapoi Petone Group Textiles Ltd. The mill at Kaiapoi eventually closed in 1978. The Moray Place building was occupied by American Health Studios International for a few years from 1964. They ran one of Dunedin’s first modern gyms and their facilities included a gymnasium, massage rooms, and a sauna. The building became known as Wynyard House and Peter Dick optometrists have occupied it as tenants since about 1973. This is an old family concern of four generations, dating back to the business of Peter Dick, watchmaker and jeweller, who went into business in Dunedin in 1889. A few years ago the bulk of the building was redeveloped as Kaiapoi Apartments.

Image credits: Drawings from Salmond Anderson Architects records, Hocken Collections / Uare Taoka o Hākena (MS-3821/2052); advertisement from Auckland Star, 25 March 1924, p.11 (courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand)

Newspaper references: Otago Daily Times, 30 September 1874 p.2 (Lewis’s building); 8 June 1889 p.2 (advertisement for Peter Dick); 3 May 1900 p.4 (sale of property), 20 March 1917 p.3 (opening and description)

Other references: Diaries, specification, and drawings from Salmond Anderson Architects records, Hocken Collections / Uare Taoka o Hākena (MS-3821/2052, r.4628); Architecture Dunedin: A Guide to Dunedin Architecture (Dunedin: Parker Warburton Architects, [2010/R2011]); Dunedin Heritage Trails: Neoclassical Architecture (Dunedin: Southern Heritage Trust, [2011]); Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory; Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory; telephone directories.