When English born miller, Daniel Inwood, first heard about New Zealand, he couldn’t have heard it from a closer source than Felix Wakefield. The Wakefield’s had turned the purchasing of land in New Zealand into a grand family business in the form of the New Zealand Company; funding colonisation projects such as Wellington, New Plymouth, Nelson and eventually Christchurch. Felix’s older brother, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, is known today as the ‘Father of New Zealand’ and was the co-founder of our very own Canterbury Association.
What Daniel heard from Felix must have been good – as he decided to pack up his huge family, business and purchase passages on the Canterbury Association’s 3rd ship – the ‘Sir George Seymour’. With milling machinery stowed in the cargo hold, the Inwoods – a party of 10 individuals – settled down in the ship’s steerage deck for an unbelievable 3 months at sea.
Upon their arrival on 17th December 1850, the family were placed in Barrack A, Room 3 at the Lyttelton Barracks. Although they lived at Port for the next fortnight, it would have been very unlikely that all this time was spent at the barracks. Families were strongly encouraged (after a couple of days) to move on – especially with further immigrant ships expected at any time. The next place the Inwoods settled was at ‘The Bricks’ (corner of Barbadoes Street and Oxford Terrace) beside the Avon and it maybe a safe bet that the family had used the river to transport their possessions into the city. As the Inwood’s made their new start in life, many other families had also settled down in camps around Hagley Park and other sites while land orders were being sorted.
Daniel saw an opportunity in this situation.
Where the Avon is closest to Riccarton Ave, he constructed Christchurch’s first commercial bakery – building an oven right into the river bank. From this site, he sold bread to the nearby settler camps.
As these camps began to break up, the family too moved into land of their own in Fendall Town (Fendalton) where Daniel set up his milling equipment. With the wheat fields of Riccarton and Ilam close by (amongst many others) Daniel found himself quite busy. His business remained in Fendalton for 7 years before making a bold move into the city, occupying an island on the Avon at Oxford Terrace (near to Hereford Street). This iconic business soon became known as ‘Mill Island’ or ‘City Hall’ in some cases. He also became a member of the Riccarton Road Board.
Daniel died in his Fendalton home on 26th October 1878 and this left his sons running the business. ‘Mill Island’ was sold out of the family in 1888 and they moved to Southbridge where another mill was constructed in nearby Winchester. The family also branched out into farming. The old mill on Oxford Terrace was demolished in 1897 and the Christchurch Beautifying Association was quick to plant the small island with magnolias, camellias and maples. 100 years later, the same association would erect a replica waterwheel on the island as a centennial gift and a commemoration of our great pioneering spirit (pictured).
This family’s great pioneering spirit is also remembered in a couple of ways: A stained glass window at St Michael and All Angels and the naming of Inwood Road in Southbridge.
*Photo taken by Annette Bulovic*