Milsom, Mace and More

Today’s blog is the start of a three-piecer on one of Christchurch’s earliest aerated water factories, once located on St Asaph Street. Now we have written plenty of blogs about aerated waters in the past (see here, here, and here) so we won’t cover much of the general information on the industry. Instead, we will start by diving into the history of Milsom and Mace, two big fish in the pond of aerated waters, before getting into the archaeology discovered on site in our next blog. So, settle in with a glass of your favourite soft drink and enjoy.

The St Asaph Street aerated water factory, which is the subject of these blogs, was in operation from 1860, which is pretty early for the Christchurch setting. The only other manufacturer set up in central Christchurch before this was Thomas Raine, who was in operation from 1859. Raine (great name for a fizzy drink man) was initially located over on the corner of Peterborough and Colombo Street, but later moved to the corner of Gloucester Street and Cambridge Terrace.

The St Asaph Street aerated water factory was owned and operated by Joseph Milsom from 1860, although it wasn’t ‘officially’ purchased until 1863. The Milsom family became somewhat of a powerhouse in the world of 19th century aerated waters in Canterbury. So, before we get into it, J. Milsom is not to be confused with R. Milsom (his brother), H. J. Milsom (his nephew), G. P. Milsom (another nephew), J. B Milsom (yet another nephew), or any other potential Milsoms out there. The many Milsom businesses are summarised below.

Keeping up with the Milsoms. A summary of the many Milsom businesses of Christchurch and surrounds, their locations, names, and operation dates. Honestly, it was a whole family affair. Compiled based on information from Christchurch Antique Bottle and Collectables Club Inc (2022).

Once established in 1860, J. Milsom initially traded under his name, before entering a partnership with his brother Richard in 1861. Richard also had an aerated water factory, which was located on London Street in Lyttelton. For the next two years the pair traded as R. & J. Milsom, operating out of both Richard’s London Street factory and Joseph’s St Asaph Street Factory. For reasons unknown the partnership ended in 1863 and the two went back to operating out of their own factories under their own names

An advertisement for R. & J. Milsom, detailing their dual locations. Lyttelton Times, 8/5/1861: 8.

Advertisement for J. Milsom’s goods. Southern Provinces Almanac, 1864: 126.

During this early operation period, two buildings are shown to be located on the property. It is likely that the building fronting St Asaph Street was the house where Milsom and his family lived as it matches the placement of the other neatly arranged houses on the surrounding sections. The second building to the south was most likely the original aerated water factory. No buildings were established on the western town section and the southern areas of the two sections were otherwise vacant at this time.

The St Asaph Street aerated water factory site highlighted in red, as shown on Fooks 1862 map of Christchurch. The eastern section was ‘officially’ purchased in 1863, and the western section was purchased in 1875. Note: Southwark Street was originally named George Street.

In 1866 J. Milsom formed a new partnership with his nephew Henry J. Milsom, with the business operating under J. Milsom & Co. Unfortunately, the partnership filed for bankruptcy in 1871, which, to be fair, was a pretty common occurrence during the 19th century. A newspaper article from the time suggests that something a bit scandalous happened between the pair as Joseph Milsom declared that he was carrying on the business in his own account having ‘no connection with Henry Joseph Milsom’ who was a former business partner. Although whatever happened can’t have been too serious as Henry Jospeh Milsom remained in the employ of the Aerated Water Company. What exactly went on remains a mystery, but we haven’t seen the last of Henry.

A public notice. Lyttelton Times, 17/4/1871: 1

Following the resolution of the bankruptcy, the 1870s and 1880s proved to be a successful period for the Milsom family as branches were operated in Dunsandel, Ashburton, Sheffield, and Leeston (Christchurch Antique Bottle and Collectables Club Inc, 2022: 152). During these two decades, the family certainly had a strong hold on the market and by the mid-1870s, the St Asaph Street factory had grown. In Stout’s 1877 map of Christchurch, we can see the expansion of the factory in the centre of the site, with two smaller associated outbuildings to the east. Additionally, J. Milsom’s house in the northeast corner of the site appears to have been either expanded or replaced by this period.

Interestingly, Henry Joseph Milsom appears to have returned to the partnership with his uncle by 1876. It is possible that the returned partnership was triggered by Henry Joseph Milsom’s purchase of the neighbouring property to the west. There are two houses shown on this section in Strout’s 1877 map, a larger one facing St Asaph Street and a smaller one facing Southwark Street. It is likely that these were the original houses built on the property by Mr James Long Fleming who purchased it in 1863. A sales notice from 1864 describes the property as a quarter acre section of freehold land with a dwelling house of five rooms (likely the one facing St Asaph Street) and a cottage of two rooms (likely the one facing Southwark Street) (Lyttelton Times, 30/8/1864: 4).

The St Asaph Street aerated water factory site highlighted in red, as shown on Stouts 1877 map of Christchurch. Facing St Asaph Street are two houses, the large building in the centre is the new factory building, with two outbuildings to the east. Another small cottage faces Southwark Street.

Henry Joseph Milsom’s return to St Asaph Street appears to have been in preparation to take over the factory from his uncle, who seems to have retired in 1880. Although J. Milsom does seem to continue to have had some involvement in the business, as it was not until 1882 that the firm begun to trade as H. J. Milsom and Co. But all up that makes over 20 years in the aerated water industry, which is a pretty good innings.

The business seemed to have prospered under Henry’s lead, as in 1884 he was advertising the removal of an old house, buildings, sheds, and other things to make way for the construction of ‘new and extensive buildings’ (Press, 5/4/1884: 3). It seemed as though he was planning another revamp of the factory and accommodations. However, in less than a fortnight after placing the advertisement, Henry died of a ‘short but severe illness’ at the St Asaph premises aged 42 (Press, 14/4/1884: 2). Henry’s widow, Mrs Amelia Jane Milsom, initially took over the running of the business, and later sold it in December of 1884 to Henry Mace (Star, 6/01/1885: 2). Thus, marking the end of the Milsom era at St Asaph Street.

Auction notice for the removal of buildings at the Milsom’s Lemonade and Cordial Factory, 1884. Press, 5/04/1884:3.

A public notice detailing the sale of the St Asaph Street factory to Henry Mace, following the death of Henry Milsom. Star, 6/01/1885: 2.

Henry Mace had an interesting life and was quite the successful man. He was born in Yorkshire, England in 1837, and, like many others, was drawn out to Australasia after the discovery of gold (The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District] 1903:367). In 1861, after a few years on the Australian goldfields, Henry crossed the ditch and began looking for gold in Otago. He, along with his brothers John and Charles, began prospecting at the junction of 12 Mile Creek and the Arrow River, with the ensuing settlement named ‘Macetown’ after the trio. Following his success on the goldfields, he became an important figure in the aerated water industry. Prior to his purchasing of the Milsom factory, he also ran factories in Hokitika and Wellington.

The man, the myth, the mohawk? The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District] 1903:367.

Tancred Street, Hokitika in the 1870s, looking towards the Southern Alps with the Hokitika River on the left. Part of the Mace & Dixon building is visible on the left. Image: westcoast.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/26468  .

After purchasing the Milsom business from Mrs Amelia Jane Milsom, Mace renamed the business ‘H. Mace’ and traded from the factory. He seems to have continued on with the site renovations started by Henry Milsom, as an 1885 description of the factory states he had a large main building, a stable, and a coach house. These buildings are likely the ones shown on the 1899 survey plan.  Here is a full description of the factory:

“His large and commodious building is built of brick and stone, as also is a large six-stalled stable and coach-house, with an extensive loft, and is situated in St. Asaph-street, running through to George-street. The upper storey of the factory is used as a storeroom for the numerous articles used in the manufacture of cordials bitters, sauce, &c. The ground floor contains the factory, cordial room and office. Water is laid on throughout the premises, and the frequent use of it keeps the place pleasantly cool. The machine at work is a soda-water machine (by Barrett and Foster) with double cylinders, each containing eight gallons, capable of turning out 1600 dozen daily. It is driven by an Otto silent gas-engine of 3-horse power. This also drives the oat-crushing and chaff-cutting machines in the stable loft-Among the other apparatus are the several bottling machines, which are used for filling the Hogben, Lamont, and Coad patents, as well as the ordinary plain bottle—all of which are in use by this firm—a siphon, filler, and a gasometer, one of the largest in the colony. In the cordial room are the several casks in use for the manufacture of cordials, sauce, bitters, &c., whilst all the shelves are kept constantly filled up with them. They are all corked by the French. Gervais corking machine, which compresses and drives in the cork at the same time.”

 – Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood, 1885: 208.

The St Asaph Street factory site as shown on an 1899 survey plan. The factory is now in the centre of the western section. LINZ, 1899.

Henry Mace’s brand became known for their dogs head logo, variations of which featured on the bottles produced, and the business powered on through the 1880s and 1890s. In c. 1901, H. Mace became H. Mace & Co., with William Longton becoming a partner. But, soon after this, in mid-1902, Henry Mace died of rheumatic fever. Nevertheless, the business continued under his name, trading until 1923 (Christchurch Antique Bottle and Collectables Club Inc, 2022: 126-127).

H. Mace bottle with dog head logo in centre. Image: C. Watson.

Advertisement for H. Mace & Co.. Davie, 1902: 35.

By the turn of the 20th century, the factory site was still owned by Mrs Amelia Jane Milsom. In 1900 she sold the eastern section to Grummitt, White, and Co., who were clothing manufacturers that specialised in waterproof clothing, and in 1906 she sold the western section to James and Catherine Rattray. Through the 20th century the site became heavily built up with commercial buildings, but nothing too major seems to have happened. By 2004 much of the former factory site was used as carparks, which are an archaeologists best friend. You’ll see why next time.

Grummitt and White Christchurch clothing factory St. Asaph Street, Christchurch. The aerated water factory site is on the right. Image: CCL-KPCD13-0006, Christchurch City Libraries, 2021.

Alana Kelly

References

Christchurch Antique Bottle and Collectables Club Inc, 2022. Unearthed: Bottles of the Christchurch & District Soft Drink Industry 1860-1980. Christchurch Antique Bottle and Collectables Club Inc, Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries, 2021. [online] Available at:  https://christchurchcitylibraries.com

Cyclopaedia Company Ltd., 1903. Cyclopaedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]. The Cyclopaedia Company Limited, Chistchurch.

Davie, M., 1902. Tourist’s Guide to Canterbury. P. A. Herman, Christchurch. [online] Available at: https://christchurchcitylibraries.com/DigitalCollection/Publications/1900s/TouristGuide1902/Pages/83338-001.asp

Fooks, C. E., 1862. Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand [map].

LINZ, 1899. A 8690, Canterbury. Landonline.

Lyttelton Times, 1851-1920. [online] Available at: https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers.

Mosely, M., 1885. Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood. J. T. Smith & Co., Christchurch. [online] Available at: https://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-MosIllu.html

Press, 1861-1945. [online] Available at: https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/.

Southern provinces almanac, directory, and year-book, 1864. Lyttelton Times, Christchurch. [online] Available at: https://canterburystories.nz/collections/publications/southern-provinces-almanac/ccl-cs-11851

Star, 1868-1935. [online] Available at: https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers.

Strouts, F., 1877. Map of Christchurch, Canterbury compiled from data supplied to City Council and District Drainage Board [map].

West Coast Recollect, 2023. [online] Available at: https://westcoast.recollect.co.nz/

1 thought on “Milsom, Mace and More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.