Canterbury’s First Wind Mill – 1853

For a inventive fella who had spent most of his working life on the Thames, with London as the backdrop, his new life on Banks Peninsula couldn’t have been more foreign – but what a muse!

Arthur Waghorn was born on 16th October 1814 at Dartford, Kent.  At the time he first heard about the Canterbury Association, he was working as a lighterman – a lighter being a flat-bottomed barge – for the Flemming family.  He must have been a great asset to them as they offered him and his family a sponsored passage on the Canterbury Association’s 2nd ship, the ‘Randolph’ if the Waghorns were brave enough for a new start with them in New Zealand.  They were!

For the first year, Arthur worked for the Flemmings in Port Levy at ‘Fernlea’; possibly agreed before the voyage was to help with felling the property’s trees and prepare the land for the planting of Cocksfoot – Richard Flemming was the pioneer for the first commercial cultivation of this plant in Canterbury.  ‘Fernlea’ was also the first Canterbury home to have a piano.

Arthur, before the arrival of his two of his brothers, purchased land in Little Akaloa, eventually owning around 5000 acres known as ‘Greendale’.  He was also the first settler to bring a cow to the bay which led to the bay’s first dairy.  He planted his land with wheat and ran a timber delivery service to Lyttelton via his boat.  Amazingly, Arthur had come across that boat which was sunken in the shallows and successfully raised and repaired it.  It was known for its speed and was a common sight around the bays of Banks Peninsula.   

In 1853, Arthur built Canterbury’s first windmill – a simple, small, steel stone powered by wind to grind his wheat. He would proudly tell everyone that he was the first to have such equipment.  

Three years later, fellow miller and ‘Randolph’ passenger, William Derisley Wood, built Christchurch’s first windmill (pictured).  This iconic site dominated the skyline and was located on Windmill Road (now the southern part of Antigua Street) – it produced the first flour on 25th August 1856. By 1862, the local demand had grown so much that Wood leased land from the Deans for a larger water-powered mill – the foundation mill stones are still visible at what is now Christchurch Girls High School.  In 1891, Wood had moved to a site on Wise Street, Addington where he embraced steam and electric powered milling.  Today, the Woods Mill is a burnt out and quake damaged structure (2016) which still waits on an uncertain future.

*Image courtesy of  the Alexander Turnbull Library –*

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