Topic: Borthwick Street (TDN 08/04/2017)

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Borthwick Street

Borthwick Street is a side-street off Raleigh Street in Brixton, near Waitara in north Taranaki.  The street was named after Sir Thomas Borthwick, owner of the freezing works company, Thomas Borthwick & Sons, in Waitara.

Thomas Borthwick, named after his father, was born in Musselburgh, Scotland on 11 January 1835.  His father, Thomas the elder, and uncle, Alexander, owned a butcher shop outside Edinburgh, and the younger Thomas began working in the business at an early age.  In 1863 he started his own business as a livestock agent in Liverpool.  He married Letitia Banks in 1871, and over the next 17 years they had six children, three sons and three daughters.

Borthwick's business interests expanded into freezing works as rapid developments in freezing technology made it possible to ship frozen meat more cost-effectively than livestock. As part of his endeavours, which included operations in Australia, Borthwick established a base in New Zealand with the purchase of the Waitara Freezing and Cold Storage Company in 1902.  The freezing works suffered two major fires in 1904 and was subsequently rebuilt by the following year. The facility was greatly improved and expanded between 1937 - 1957 and was again rebuilt following yet another huge fire in 1979.  The Borthwicks freezing works was bought by Waitaki NZ Refrigerating Ltd in 1986, eventually closing its doors in 1997.

Sir Thomas Borthwick passed away on 27 July 1912.  His eldest son, Thomas Banks Borthwick, had already assumed control of the business. 

“Borthwicks", as the freezing works came to be known, was a primary driver of the local economy, employing thousands of people over the years.  Roading and railway improvements were also made to the area as well as construction of a wharf at the mouth of the Waitara River.  The street that bears the name Borthwick stands as a legacy to the man, his business and their contributions to the area.

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