J and T Meek's Grain Store (Former)

6 Harbour Street, Oamaru

  • J and T Meek’s Grain Store (Former).
    Copyright: North Otago Museum.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2288 Date Entered 2nd July 1982

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

The extent includes Lot 3 DP 88 (CT OT18C/519), Otago Land District and the building known as J and T Meek's Grain Store (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Waitaki District

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 3 DP 88 (CT OT18C/519), Otago Land District

Summaryopen/close

J and T Meek’s Grain Store designed by prominent Oamaru partnership Forrester and Lemon, is an ornately detailed building standing alongside the other stone stores on Harbour Street. Built in 1876-77, just ten years after the Meeks established their flour mill this store, with its capacity to store 30,000 sacks of grain, represents the wealth and prosperity that grew from the grain industry in the 1870s, and that is expressed in Oamaru’s outstanding Victorian architecture.

J and T Meek began their involvement in the grain business with the construction of a steam flour mill on Oamaru’s Severn Street in 1869. In 1879 they expanded their business with the purchase of J.T. Evans & Co’s Crown mill, and again in 1883 when they built the huge grain elevator building alongside the railway land to the north of Harbour Street.

Scottish-born Thomas Meek (1842-1905), a joiner by trade, arrived in Oamaru in 1863. After buying a threshing machine, which he worked for six years, he then began to develop a flour milling business. He was prominent in local politics, being a member of Oamaru Borough Council for many years, and held a seat on the Oamaru Harbour Board.

In later years the grain store was occupied by Messrs Darling & McDowell Ltd (who installed grass seed cleaning machines) by the Northern Farmers’ Co-op, Wrightson and Dalgety, and by Cattos Wool Store. By the 1920s milling had declined as grain was sourced from Australia and many grain stores lost their original use.

Architectural historian Conal McCarthy describes the features of the grain store: like other grain stores on Harbour Street, modeled on exchange buildings that were common in Britain, J and T Meek’s Grain Store has a large arched central doorway, with symmetrically placed arched windows on either side. The store has an ornate entablature and fine detailing on the main façade. It has a single gable running the length of the building with a clerestory providing natural light to the interior.

In 2013 J and T Meek’s Grain Store (Former), houses a wool store, and is an historic attraction alongside the other remarkable Oamaru stone buildings in the Harbour/Tyne precinct, a registered Historic Area (Register No. 7064).

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Forrester & Lemon

The architectural partnership of Forrester and Lemon was established in Oamaru in 1872.

Thomas Forrester (1838-1907) was born in Glasgow and educated at the Glasgow School of Art. Emigrating to New Zealand in 1861 he settled in Dunedin and worked under William Mason (1810-97) and William Henry Clayton (1823-77) and later Robert Arthur Lawson (1833-1902). In 1865 he superintended the Dunedin Exhibition and from 1870 he became involved with the supervision of harbour works. Some time after 1885 he became Engineer to the Oamaru Harbour Board and in this capacity designed the repairs to the breakwater following storm damage in 1886 and later the Holmes Wharf. On his death in 1907 he was still in the employ of the Harbour Board.

John Lemon (1828-1890) was born in Jamaica and travelled to England before emigrating to New Zealand in 1849. He settled in Oamaru in 1860 and with his brother Charles established a timber merchant's business. By 1869 he was in partnership with his father-in-law, George Sumpter calling themselves "Timber and General Merchants, Land and Commission Agents". This partnership was dissolved in 1872 and Lemon entered into partnership with Forrester. Lemon had no architectural experience at all, but had a wide circle of business contacts and was an efficient administrator.

Buildings designed by the partnership of Forrester and Lemon include St Paul's Church (1875-76), the Harbour Board Offices (1876), Queen's (later Brydone) Hotel (1881), Waitaki Boys' High School (1883), The Courthouse (1883) and the Post Office (1883-84), all in Oamaru. Forrester and Lemon contributed greatly to Oamaru's nineteenth century character. On Lemon's death in 1890 the practice was taken over by Forrester's son, John Megget Forrester (1865-1965).

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1876 - 1877

Completion Date

1st May 2013

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1905

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 4 Otago and Southland, Cyclopedia Company, Christchurch, 1905

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc04Cycl-t1-body1-d4-d25-d19.html accessed 9 April 2013

McCarthy, 2002

Conal McCarthy, Forrester and Lemon of Oamaru, architects, Oamaru, 2002

North Otago Times

North Otago Times

27 Jan 1877, p.2.

Timaru Herald

Timaru Herald

6 Aug 1878, p.3.

Taranaki Herald

'New Chapel at Mangorei', Taranaki Herald, 16 Oct 1869, p. 2.

7 Oct 1905, p.7.

Other Information

A fully referenced Upgrade Report is available from the Otago/Southland Area office of NZHPT.

This registration is also included in the Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area (Record no. 7064).

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.