Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former)

48 Conon Street And Tyne Street, Invercargill

  • Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former). Image courtesy of www.flickr.com .
    Copyright: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 1/01/2014.
  • Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former). Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 1/01/2014.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2463 Date Entered 26th August 2011

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 8590 (CT SL4A/1086), Southland Land District, and part Legal Road, and the buildings and structures known as Flemings and Company Flourmill (Former) thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Invercargill City

Region

Southland Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 8590 (CT SL4A/1086), Part Legal Road, Southland Land District

Location description

When travelling east from the intersection of Dee and Tay Streets/State Highway One in central Invercargill, Conon Street is the second intersection, running southwards. The corner of Conon and Tyne Streets is reached by continuing a short distance, crossing the Otepuni Stream, and passing its associated gardens, and the railway line.

Summaryopen/close

Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) is a collection of mostly brick buildings which accumulated from the 1880s as this company evolved into a New Zealand icon. The Invercargill flourmill was the first owned by Thomas Fleming and his partners, and its prominent street presence and longevity mean it is a landmark within the city.

Wheat and oat growing and production industries were established early on in Southland’s history. This was reflective of both the importance of this staple food and also the region’s horticultural suitability. The area continued to be one of the most important flour producing regions within New Zealand for over a century, and indelibly linked to this success was Thomas Fleming (1848-1930) and the various companies which carried the Fleming name. After having several positions as flourmill manager, Fleming and partners brought their first mill in Invercargill in 1879. From this time, Fleming not only expanded the capacity at his base of operations, but also acquired other mills around Southland. After several decades as Fleming and Gilkison, in 1902 Fleming and Company was formed and remained in the family until 1953. Because the Flemings brand was a household name in New Zealand, subsequent owners retained this and production associated with it continued out of the Invercargill flourmill until the late twentieth century. Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) was an operational flourmill until 2006.

A fire in 1889 destroyed the original 1877 timber flourmill, but the 1881 brick additions were unaffected. The timber section on the corner of Tyne and Conon Streets was rebuilt in brick and these 1880s portions form the core of the current building. Adjoining the flourmill are its associated brick warehouses which probably date from the early twentieth century, as well as a mid twentieth century steel framed warehouse. Other remnants of the flourmill’s operative period include two large 1960s exterior corrugated iron clad silos, and a small circa 1930s stuccoed brick administrative building.

In 2011 the some of the buildings associated with the former Flourmill are used for storage and studio space.

Fleming and Company was one of New Zealand’s most iconic companies and brands, and one which had its start in Invercargill at Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former). This place also has significance because of its connection with Thomas Fleming, who was the driving force behind Southland becoming a prominent flour producing area, and one of Invercargill’s leading citizens. Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) also has historical and social significance within Invercargill because for over a century it was socially and economically vital as the main outlet for a staple food, as well as a place whose continuance supported many other local industries and businesses.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Directly associated with important Invercargill business and community leader, Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) is an important legacy of Thomas Fleming. Fleming and his family were early settlers in Southland and were heavily involved in developing the potential of the region as a key contributor of a staple foodstuff nationally. Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) is of significance as the first flourmill, and the main one, in the firm’s portfolio. Under its second incarnation as Fleming and Gilkison, which Fleming formed in 1882 with his brother-in-law, Peter Lindsay Gilkison, the company expanded its Invercargill base of operations, as well as buying other flourmills throughout Southland, which consolidated the firm’s importance. Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) continued to be owned by that company until 1953.

From its origins in 1879, Fleming and Company developed into a significant company, not only in Southland, but nationally, and the story of the company and Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) is historically important because it is representative of broader historical and economic trends throughout the twentieth century. Economic rationalisation has seen the decline of many local primary processing industries, a fate that Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) escaped longer than most of its counterparts through its position as a central processing factory. However, with the absorption of the company into larger New Zealand and international firms, as well as the deregulation of the flour industry in the 1980s, even this important flourmill became viewed as economically unviable.

Aesthetic Significance or Value:

The robust appearance and stature of Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) commands a strong streetscape presence, making the building a prominent Invercargill landmark. In particular, the crisp utilitarian form of the main building provides a striking contrast with the neighbouring gardens and nearby Catholic Basilica, creating a point of interest and immediately establishing both the industrial nature and importance of the building.

Architectural Significance or Value:

Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) has architectural significance as an good representative example of a flourmill complex, predominantly dating to the 1880s, but construction continued through to the mid twentieth century, reflecting the growth of the company’s operations. Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) has architectural importance as a characteristic multi-storey Victorian flourmill; a type of building whose form was dictated by the milling process and the building technologies commonly available in New Zealand. The preference for brick construction is reflective of the inherent fire risk associated with this processing, which the owner’s encountered firsthand with the destruction of timber portions in 1889.

Social Significance or Value:

Not only was it economically successful, but Fleming and Company was a popular company within Invercargill and the wider Southland community, and a brand which fed into regional identity and pride. Indeed, Fleming and Company’s development into an iconic New Zealand brand began at its Invercargill flourmill, initially operated by Fleming Gray and Company in 1879, which contributes to the importance of Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former). The flourmill was in full production for a century and therefore was a significant local employer for generations. However, the social importance of Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) also derives from the fact that it produced a staple food which the community and related businesses, ranging from grocers and bakers to poultry farmers, depended upon.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

The New Zealand economy was built on horticultural and agricultural industries and because they were essential staple foods, wheat and oats were of particular importance. As a key processor of these crops, the various incarnations of Fleming and Company helped to establish Southland as a significant flour producing area and nurtured this industry vital to the local economy for almost 75 years. The sale of the company in the mid-twentieth century was reflective of a broader trend nationally of centralising primary produce industries.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) is important because it is directly associated with Thomas Fleming, being the site of a flourmill that he had managed since 1877, and then went onto purchase a few years later. This was the beginnings of the company headed by Fleming which went onto become significant nationally. Fleming was not only a prominent business person nationally, but was heavily involved in local politics, being a long term Borough Councillor and one time mayor of Invercargill. As such, Fleming was one of Southland’s leading citizens for 50 years until his death in 1930.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for theplace:

Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) is a landmark building within Invercargill and the industry associated with it was essential to the city’s economy for over a century. The community association with the building was clearly demonstrated in the late 1970s when the flourmill’s proposed closure inspired vocal public dismay and pressure for its retention as an operational flourmill.

Summary of Significance or Values

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, and e.

Conclusion

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Ramsay, John

Scottish-born Ramsay (c.1835-1919) arrived in Auckland in 1859. Hearing about the gold rushes in the South, he journeyed to Dunedin before joining the hopefuls at the Tuapeka goldfields. After his marriage to Elizabeth Allen he took up residence at Longbush where he set up as a sawmiller in conjunction with John Laidlaw and James Strang. After that partnership was dissolved he moved to Invercargill and worked as a builder, active from the mid 1870s. He was the builder for F.W. Burwell’s St Paul’s Church (Presbyterian) and the Bank of New Zealand building in Invercargill, as well as building additions to the Fleming and Company Flourmill in 1881. He worked on many significant buildings including the AMP buildings, the first government buildings, the first part of St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, the race and turbine of the Mataura freezing works, as well as his own Ramsay’s Hall on Tay Street, later incorporated into the Thomson and Beattie’s drapery concern. However, bankruptcy in 1887 seems to have ended his contracting career.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Ancient stories tell the origins of southern Maori, with the waka of Aoraki becoming Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island), and its sternpost, Te Taurapa a Te Waka o Aoraki becoming Bluff Hill (also known as Motupohue).The early generations learnt about the land and its resources: stone sources were found, and stone (especially pounamu) became an important trading item. Kaika were established close to resources. Rights and resources and places were established, and traditions established which protected the manawhenua.

According to the statutory acknowledgments in the Ngai Tahu Settlement, important villages along the south coast included: Te Wae Wae (Waiau), Taunoa (Orepuki), Kawakaputaputa (Wakapatu), Oraka (Colac bay), Aparima, Turangiteuaru, Awarua (Bluff), Te Whera, Toe Toe (mouth of the Mataura River) and Waikawa. Mokamoka (also known as Mokemoke or Mokomoko) was a settlement at the Invercargill estuary sustained by the rich resources found there. Tauranga waka occur up and down the coast linking land and sea trails with mahinga kai resources. Whaling boats plied the waters from the 1820s leading to changes in settlement patterns and resource use.

1853 saw the Murihiku purchase which left Maori south of the Waitaki (excluding the Otakou Block) with only 4,630 acres, the start of a long quest by southern Maori for justice questioning the legality of the purchase as well as the inadequacy of the land reserved.

Early Pakeha Settlement

Invercargill Township was laid out by chief surveyor John Turnbull Thomson in 1856, Thomson choosing the location for its centrality for both sea-based and land-based traffic, though the surrounding low lying swampy ground made the new settlement practically inaccessible. As with Dunedin further north, the development of the town was given an enormous boost with the gold rushes of the early 1860s. The fledgling settlement put down more substantial roots. With the bursting of the gold bubble in the mid 1860s it was realised that the wealth of the province was to rest more on the land itself rather than the precious metal extracted from it.

Flour milling

Wheat was an unknown crop in New Zealand until Europeans introduced it to the country and to Maori. Wheat came to be grown throughout New Zealand but by the 1870s was concentrated in the areas most conducive to it: South Canterbury, North Otago and eastern Southland. By the end of 1866, 11,000 acres were cropped in North Otago, and by 1878 the figure was 142,000 acres, of which 33,000 acres represented wheat cultivation.

The earliest flour milling in New Zealand was done by hand, using a hand-operated mill such as the one Samuel Marsden had with him in 1814. In 1834 the first mill was built at the Te Waimate Mission Station’s farm, overseen by Rev. Richard Davis. The first Otago flour mill was built by the Somerville family in 1849 at Andersons Bay, Dunedin.

By the 1860s Invercargill’s population numbered around 1000 and continued to flourish, reaching 2400 over the next 15 year period, by which time Invercargill had overtaken Riverton as the main town in Southland. Invercargill was not highly industrialised, but its early economy did rely on the processing of primary produce, and even in the mid twentieth century it was mainly known for its brick and pottering making, iron foundries, sawmilling and joinery enterprises, food processing, and flour-making.

It has been said that because oats and wheat were the base for staple foods, such as porridge and bread, life without these crops would have ‘been unthinkable for Southland’s early European settlers.’ Indeed, in the late nineteenth century Southland was the main oat-producing region in New Zealand, which was a highly lucrative market while the dependence on horses for transport lasted. For instance, by 1871 9,720 hectares of oats and wheat were in production in Southland, which lead to a growth in the construction of flourmills.

Broadly speaking, there are two defining aspects to the technology of flour mills: power and grinding. The nineteenth-century mills were generally powered by water, steam or wind. Traditionally, water-powered mills used mill wheels, whose power was determined by the flow of the water, and the size of the wheel. These are described as ‘overshot’, ‘undershot’ or ‘breastshot’ depending on whether the water strikes the wheel at the top, bottom, or near the centre. Greater power could be achieved by water turbines, and through the 1880s and 1890s traditional water wheels were phased out in favour of turbines. In the mid-twentieth century electricity rendered these obsolete too.

The process of grinding the grain to separate the husk from the flour traditionally involved using pairs of millstones aligned on a central shaft. The top (‘runner’) stone rotated, while the bottom (‘bedstone’) remained still. Grooves in the stones left sharp edges that ground the grain, sending the flour outwards centrifugally through the grooves. It was important to ‘dress’ or clean out the grooves to ensure the edges ground the grain cleanly, or the flour would be brown. From the 1880s roller technology began to replace the traditional method of grinding. Under this system wheat was picked over for chaff, then passed through steel break rollers. The bran was collected for animal feed, and the grain went through sieves, purifiers and reduction rollers, after which wheatgerm was collected. The flour was then further refined through more rollers. The specific sequence of processes that a mill’s machinery produces is known as its ‘flow diagram’. The flour produced by roller milling is ‘sharper’ or less soft than that produced by grinding, so that stoneground flour continues to have a specialist market today, despite the efficiencies of the roller method. Through the 1880s and 1890s mills were increasingly converted to roller technology, including Clark’s Mill at Kakanui, in 1890.

Roller mills tumbled the grains of wheat in rollers which separated the different particles of the grains. The moistened grain is first passed through the series of break rollers which shear off (rather than crush) the outer casing. The grains are then sieved to separate out the fine particles that make up white flour. The products left are farina and coarse particles of bran and germ. The farina or middling product then makes multiple passes through the reduction rolls, and is again sieved after each pass to maximize extraction of white flour from the endosperm, while removing coarser bran and germ particles.

Thomas Fleming’s Flourmills

While the flour industry developed naturally as a result of demand and suitable growing conditions, Thomas Fleming (1848-1930) has been identified as the driving force behind it becoming predominant within Southland’s economy from the late nineteenth century. Fleming immigrated to New Zealand with his parents and nine siblings in 1862. Several years after their arrival the family had acquired large farms but, while most of the Flemings continued to farm in Southland, Thomas Fleming seems to have moved around and worked in a variety of different jobs. However, in his early twenties Fleming stumbled into his career path, firstly harvesting wheat before moving onto work in, and then manage, the Maheno Valley flourmill (now the NZ Historic Places Trust property known as Clarks Flourmill; Category I historic place, Record no. 356) near Oamaru.

Fleming moved back to Invercargill to take up a position as manager of John Murdoch’s new flourmill. This flourmill was ideally located slightly south of the main business district and directly opposite the railway line, which meant raw and processed product could be transported directly to and from the mill by way of a railway siding. The nearby Otepuni Stream also supplied the factory’s water. After a few years as an employee, Fleming then formed a partnership called Fleming Gray and Company in 1879 which purchased Murdoch’s mill.

This was the beginnings of the company which went on to become a household name in New Zealand, and create such cultural icons as Sergeant Dan the Creamoata Man. Then in 1882 Peter Lindsay Gilkison (1846-1924), Fleming’s brother-in-law, joined Fleming in creating the company of Fleming and Gilkison. Within Invercargill this company, operating Murdoch’s mill as its Southland Roller Flourmill, was described as a ‘popular firm of flour millers and grain merchants’. This partnership consolidated the company’s and the flourmill’s importance locally and both seem to have flourished. In 1887 the coal-fired engines driving the processing plant were described as ‘probably the most heavily taxed in Southland, the building being, like a modern Atlantic steamer, a complete box of machinery.’

Fleming and Gilkison began extending their Southland-based flour-milling empire early on, buying and extending mills in places such as Gore, Mataura and Winton. The company’s expansion was fortunate because the timber portion, comprising the original 1877 mill, of their base of operations in Invercargill was destroyed by fire in 1889. With their group of company flourmills Fleming and Gilkison were able to increase production at each to compensate for the loss of use of their Invercargill mill, and all of the company’s contracts were still able to be filled.

It was the timber construction, combined with the flammable product the flourmill processed, and factory machinery including an oat kiln, which made the Invercargill mill particularly susceptible to fire. Indeed, fire seems to have been a common hazard in timber constructed mills, and their Gore flourmill was similarly partially destroyed in 1912. This high fire risk is no doubt the reason why Fleming Gray and Company, followed by Fleming and Gilkison, had built extensions to the 1877 Invercargill building in brick, and they then also rebuilt the mill section of the same material.

The late 1880s seem to have been a busy time for Fleming. During this period he was not only Vice-President of the Caledonian Society of Southland, but after serving for many years on the Borough Council, in November 1888 Fleming was elected Mayor. Among Fleming’s first duties as Mayor-elect was the laying of one of the foundation stones of Invercargill’s landmark watertower. This improved water supply was instrumental in the fire-fighting efforts that kept the damage to the Flemings and Gilkison flourmill to a minimum, however, the damage was still substantial. Therefore, for the better part of 1889 Fleming was also occupied with the rebuilding of the flourmill.

The basic form of the previous building seems to have been adhered to, primarily because the 1877 timber section had been hemmed in by later brick sections, including a large addition to the wooden mill section along Conon Street (1881), and a grain store (1882-83) that went unscathed by the fire. The rebuilding appears to have gotten underway reasonably quickly after the fire, but was setback at one stage because a large portion of the remaining fire damaged fabric collapsed causing damage to the new work. Further delays occurred when the plant from England was held up due to overseas dockworkers strikes.

Fleming is said to have been an enthusiast of innovation, and the fire seems to have become an opportunity to introduce more state-of-the-art technologies into the replacement flourmill, which he had investigated while on one of his trips to England. When this new imported machinery eventually arrived it gave Fleming and Gilkison an advantage over competitors because it enabled them to produce an increased amount of flour that was also finer and of better quality. Another innovation at the mill was the introduction of electricity. Having invested in a substantial gasworks, the Invercargill Borough Council was loathe to then expend in order to set up electric power supplies. Therefore, the Southland Roller Flourmill building was one of the first in Invercargill to be lit electrically, the electricity being privately generated on site. Later, in 1895 Fleming even applied to the Council to be able to erect poles to carry electricity wires from the mill to his house, which was nearby on Forth Street.

The partnership of Fleming and Gilkison was dissolved in early 1902. Gilkison’s retirement was apparently prompted by disagreements between himself and Fleming. While Gilkison went on to establish Southland Frozen Meat Company, Fleming continued to run their various mills and entered into a partnership, under the name of Fleming and Company, with his second son, William Herbert Pollock Fleming (1881-1927), and John Rennie (b.1866), who had been accountant for Fleming and Gilkison and also became Flemings son-in-law in 1895. In 1905 the Invercargill flourmill employed 12 men and was capable of producing six sacks of flour per hour, compared with the Winton flourmill which could only average three. Fleming must have felt that the firm was progressing nicely under this new arrangement because he had embarked on another of his lengthy trips abroad, spending several years visiting England and the United States of America before returning to New Zealand 1906.

In 1912 Fleming retired, selling his shares in the company to his sons William and Andrew Scoular Fleming (1888-1935), as well as to Rennie. Despite the retention of the Fleming brand name, after the deaths of William and Andrew subsequent generations of Flemings seem to have moved away from careers in the family business. Eventually the company was sold to the Auckland-based Northern Rolling Mills (NRM) in 1953. This new parent company had been established in 1899 as the result of the merger of several smaller mill companies, and in late twentieth century it was a subsidiary of Watties Industries, although it has now evolved into Champion Flour Mills.

Like the Creamoata Mill Complex in Gore (Category I, Record No. 7470), another of Fleming’s concerns, the history of the Fleming’s Flour Mill in Invercargill illustrates the changing fortunes of New Zealand's agricultural and primary processing industries. Flour milling was one of Southland’s most enduring industries and it played a major role in the development of both the Invercargill and the economy of Southland. Subsequent forces of economic rationalisation and globalisation have had a largely negative impact on these industries.

Clark’s Mill in Maheno (Category I, Record No. 346) is another outstanding example of milling technology, being the only surviving water-powered flour mill with some machinery still intact. Clark’s Mill represents the rural flour mills that were built in the 1860s when wheat production was at its peak. Fleming was trained in his trade at Clark’s Mill, an important link with the establishment of Fleming’s Invercargill Mill.

Fleming’s Flour Mill in Invercargill is an important urban survivor of the flour milling industry. Like Wakelin's Flourmill in Carterton (Category I, Record No.7634), and the Crown Milling Company Building in Dunedin (Category I, Record Number 366), Fleming’s Flour Mill is a landmark in its community. Such mill buildings are special survivors as many were destroyed by fire, a fate that the combustion of wheat made them prone.

While still important to the Southland economy, by the mid twentieth century oat and wheat production had been surpassed by agricultural industries such as lamb and dairy production. Despite being supplanted by other industries locally, in the late 1970s Southland was still producing the highest yields of wheat and oats nationally. However, after a peak 80 years earlier when there were 12 flourmills operating in Southland, by the 1960s the former Fleming and Company Flourmill was the only flourmill left operating due to its owners acquiring competing mills and gradually centralising.

In the late 1970s the future of the Fleming and Company Flourmill was also under threat because the building was thought to be at the end of its economic life. This proposed 1977 closure and relocation of activities to Auckland, drew strong community reaction, with numerous articles appearing in the Southland Times and a ‘flour mill action committee’ being established. Affected parties also staged meetings that included people such as N. P. H. Jones, Member of Parliament for Invercargill, as well as representatives from ‘mercantile firms, grain merchants, poultry producers, grocery wholesalers, the Railways Department, the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries, the Southland Trade Council, and bakers.’ These actions seem to have bought the mill a slight reprieve because its directors promised to continue operations until at least the end of 1980.

In the mid 1980s the wheat industry was deregulated and as such New Zealand flour production began to drop in the face of cheaper imported product from Australia. Statistics demonstrate the effect of this clearly: in 1981 Southland alone accounted for 23 per cent of national wheat production, but within 20 years the combined total production in Southland, Otago and Marlborough was 15 per cent. It was around this time that NRM sold the flourmill in Invercargill to local company, South Flour Limited. The new owners of the former Fleming and Company Flourmill, continued to produce flour for the local market, but by 2006 this had become uneconomic and as such the company discontinued production. This was part of a nationwide trend, for example, in the early 2000s Goodman Fielder closed all of its flourmills except those in Mt Maunganui and Christchurch. Earlier in 1992 NRM also stopped flour production, and the former Flemings Creamoata factory in Gore eventually closed in 2008.

In 2011 the Flemings brand has largely been subsumed into Uncle Tobys. A range of snack bars, distributed by Bluebird, are still available under the Flemings name. The former Fleming and Company Mill, used largely for storage, stands on its landmark site, a reminder of this important New Zealand industry.

Physical Description

Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) consists of a flourmill building, incrementally constructed in the 1880s using brick and concrete with timber internal supports, and connected stores and warehouses. The complex also features two large corrugated iron 1960s silos, as well as a small separate early twentieth century administration building.

Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) is located just south of Invercargill’s central business district. The immediate area to the east and south is characterised by single storey light industrial and commercial buildings. However, to the west is a Catholic precinct which includes St Joseph’s Primary School, with its large recreational area directly opposite the flourmill, and also St Mary’s Basilica. On the opposite side of Tyne Street are the Otepuni Gardens through which runs the associated stream. These relatively low-lying surroundings mean that the four-storey main flourmill section has considerable visual impact within its streetscape. Like the Basilica, the height of the flourmill means that it can be seen from some distance and is a landmark within Invercargill. Views of the factory from the gardens soften the impact of the flourmill’s stark utilitarian form, while the contrast between its sharp simplicity and the relative ornateness and the curves of the Basilica creates an interesting skyline.

Flourmill

The main four storey building is the flourmill which is in four parts: the southern section along Conon Street was built in 1881 after Fleming, Gray and Company formed, with the northern section on the corner of Conon and Tyne Streets being constructed in 1889 as a replacement for the original timber mill which was destroyed by fire, and a further contemporary wing along Tyne Street which is backed by a twentieth century concrete addition.

All of the pre-twentieth century portions of the flourmill are constructed in brick. Because of the hazard of fire, timber was not ideal for this form of building, but the necessity for multi-level buildings meant that timber was a popular material for late nineteenth century flourmills because it was cheaper than the only alternative, which was brick. The reinforced concrete necessary for multi-level buildings was still several decades away from introduction when Fleming and Company Flourmill (Former) was being developed in the 1880s and 1890s. For example, when timber portions of the company’s Gore flourmill burnt down in 1918, they were able to be replaced with a reinforced concrete building, but like in Invercargill, pre-twentieth century additions had been completed in brick.

Features of the flourmill include its distinctive ventilator caps which line the ridge of the gable parallel with Conon Street. The three upper storeys along Tyne Street overhang a crude colonnade which shelters the mill’s former railway siding from the elements and provided direct loading access by way of doors and shoots. At the rear/southern end of the flourmill, elevated to second floor level by posts, is a corrugated iron 1963 addition which housed the former milling equipment. Previously the flourmill’s tall boiler chimney was also located at the rear of the building. However this was demolished circa 1982.

The façade of the four storey flourmill is elongated, stretching east along Tyne and Conon Streets and defining that corner. Along Tyne Street the gable end of the northwest sections interrupting the simple parapet which spans the majority of this front façade. The numerous fenestrations in the 1889 corner section of the building have slightly arched architraves to match the earliest remaining part of the flourmill. The flat architraves of the adjoining Tyne Street portion suggest that it may have been constructed slightly later. However it is extant by the late 1890s and would have meant that the flourmill became ‘L’ shaped. The rear part of this east section, currently housing two internal silos, is constructed in concrete. A later date for this southeast corner of the flourmill, possibly early twentieth century, would explain the, now, internal window fittings within the building.

The main entry to the flourmill is in the northwest corner of the building. Once past several small office and utility spaces the flourmill is generally a succession of open plan spaces on the ground floor, as well as on each subsequent level. At the rear of the ground floor are several smaller spaces which housed the boiler and engine rooms and corresponded to the former chimney.

The various floors are accessed by a stair on the west side of the building, and each space is interrupted by substantial structural posts and beams. Several of the joists have crevices in them which are the result of decades of wear as grain past down between the various floors of the building during the milling process. These eroded joists are found in the upper northwest corner of the flourmill. It was on this corner of the building that in 1946 a renewal of the brick work was undertaken, as well as the creation of new concrete lintel bands.

With the flourmill no longer operating, the present owners are focussed on cleaning the building of grain remnants in order to forestall rodent problems, as well as the general maintenance of the building. Much of the milling machinery has been removed. However it is planned that some will remain as a reminder of the building’s former use.

Warehouses

Directly adjoining the east side of the flourmill, and internally accessible towards the rear of that building, is a large grain store/warehouse. While the present building conforms to a description of an 1883 grain store constructed by Invercargill builder, A. Little, who worked to plans ‘designed by the proprietors,’ photographic evidence suggests that the current building was constructed at some point following the turn of the twentieth century. This large two gable span building has timber flooring and ceiling linings, brick walls, and a loading door in each gable section facing Tyne Street. This street frontage features a heavy parapet whose plastered finish bares the name of ‘Fleming & Company Limited Millers.’

The eastern most gable section has a line of tall central timber king posts which intersect its timber gable trusses. At the division between the two gable sections are further timber support posts, however, the west gable has a smaller span and as such only requires truss support. Before the installation of the large metal internal silos, this area housed heart rimu silos. This is perhaps why the western section is also slightly higher than its counterpart. The building technologies used, and the decorative features of the main façade gable ends, point to an early twentieth century, possibly pre-1920s, construction date for both sections.

In contrast the adjoining warehouse is steel framed and corrugated iron clad. The steel frame allows this building to have a span almost as great as the brick warehouse. The floor of this vast space is concreted and the building, previously called the ANDAC Grain Store, dates from the mid twentieth century, having been constructed by 1967 when the two large silos to the rear of the warehouses were installed.

Administration building

On the south side of the factory’s driveway is a small stuccoed brick office building with tile roof. It is unclear when the administration building was originally constructed. However, decorative features such as the ceiling roses in the two northern rooms, as well as a remnant of leadlighting in the southern set of front façade windows, and the fireplace and associated tiling in the former rest room, point to a 1920 or 1930 construction date, as does the bungalow design of the building.

Originally the main entrance was at the centre of the front façade. However, this and some of the internal layout was altered in 1974 when a concrete block extension was also added to the east side of the building. This addition then became the public entrance and the former front door was enclosed with a small window in its place.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1881 -
Brick addition to original 1877 mill

Original Construction
-
East warehouse constructed

Original Construction
1967 -
External silos constructed

Addition
1974 -
Concrete block additions to administration building

Partial Demolition
1982 -
Chimney demolished

Partial Demolition
-
1889 Fire destroys original timbers section. Rebuilt in brick

Original Construction
-
Brick warehouses constructed

Original Construction
1935 -
Administration building constructed

Modification
1946 -
Brick and concrete renewal on northwest corner of flourmill

Construction Details

Brick, concrete, corrugated iron, glass, steel, timber

Completion Date

16th May 2011

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

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

McLintock, 1966

An Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Government Printer, Wellington, 1966

Sorrell, 2006

P. Sorrell, (ed) Murihiku: The Southland Story, Southland to 2006 Book Project Committee, Invercargill, 2006

Thomson, 1998

Jane Thomson, (ed)., Southern People: A Dictionary of Otago Southland Biography, Dunedin: Longacre Press/Dunedin City Council, 1998.

Thornton, 1982

Geoffrey G. Thornton, New Zealand's Industrial Heritage, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1982

Thornton, 1996

Geoffrey Thornton, Cast in Concrete: Concrete Construction in New Zealand 1850-1939, Auckland, 1996

Watt, 1971

J O P Watt. Centenary Invercargill 1871 - 1971. 1971

Hall-Jones, 1949

F.G, Hall-Jones, Souvenir of Invercargill and Southland, Invercargill, 1949

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area Office

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.