Topic: Alpha Flour Mill Site - 1844

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Huatoki Stream, Redcoat Lane, New Plymouth

Alpha Flourmill Stones 

The Alpha Flour Mill

The Alpha was the first flour mill to operate in Taranaki. It was originally built and owned by Richard Rundle and Samuel Oliver and began milling in February 1844.

 The building was three storeys high, with vertical board-and-batten cladding and a breast-shot waterwheel. During the 1860s it was converted to a timber mill and, in 1873, began producing bone meal. It was probably demolished in the early 1880s.

The stone foundations of the mill may be seen across the Huatoki Stream from the Walkway adjacent to the millstones. The dam to provide water for the wheel was made using the large rocks nearby. Several notches for the dam’s braces may be seen in them.

Two millstones, made of local volcanic andesite, may be seen on the site.The third stone with the circular trough is thought to be for crushing fruit for making cider.

In 1986 part of the mill site was excavated by Robyn Oliver (then living in New Plymouth) as part of a dissertation on Taranaki flour mills for a MA degree with the University of Sydney. During the excavation a 3.1-metre section of the waterwheel was uncovered in the bottom of the wheel-pit. The mill's stone foundations were also excavated. Oliver's thesis, The Flour Mills of Taranaki, 1844-1935, 1988, may be studied in the Taranaki Research Centre, Puke Ariki.

 Flour Milling in Taranaki

 In the1840s Taranaki was considered a prime area for producing the soft-grained wheat varieties needed for stone-grinding. Modern hard-grained cultivars were developed in the late 19th century when steel roller mills made their appearance. The mills established in New Plymouth during this early period were the Alpha (1844), Victoria (1845) Union (1849), Blagdon (1853) and Egmont (1867).

 Flour from some of these early establishments was of questionable quality. The product of one mill was rumoured to require ‘regrinding with a garden roller’ before it was fit to use!

 In addition to these five mills, at least seven small mills were established by Māori communities in coastal and south Taranaki during the 1840s and 50s.

 Later in the century, flour mills were established at Tataraimaka (1875), Kakaramea (1876), Sentry Hill (1876), Tawhiti (1881) and Manaia (1883).

 

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Alpha Flour Mill Site - 1844


City:New Plymouth
Alpha Flour Mill Site - 1844 by Ron is Copyright Act 1994