Topic: Chilman Street (TDN 28/03/2009)

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Chilman Street 

A keen interest in smelting Taranaki ironsand prompted businessman Richard Chilman, after whom Chilman St is named, to go to England in 1869 to raise capital for a smelting plant. 

The Pioneer Steel Company, which he chaired, had purchased a plant and a patent on a smelting process. Operations were suspended when the plant ran at a loss because the sand was so fine much of it gathered at the bottom of the furnace before the fire could smelt it. The company wound up voluntarily, and liquidators began negotiating in England for the formation of a new company. Having been advised a company might be formed, Chilman went to England to persuade English capitalists to work the ironsand, but sold the company's interests to metal brokers in Manchester for just ₤1000.

 He was born in London on 6 May 1816, where his father was in business. With an excellent commercial education, he travelled around America when he was only 16 before returning to London. He borrowed 200 pounds from a cousin, and he and his wife, Agnes, emigrated to New Zealand on the barque William Bryan (312 tons). During the passage Plymouth Company agent George Cutfield appointed him as clerk, a position he held under the successive agents of the Plymouth and New Zealand companies until the New Zealand Company ceased operating in 1861. 

 The Chilmans arrived in New Plymouth in November 1840, and farmed on the east bank of Te Henui River near the beach, raising chickens and pigs and growing vegetables and wheat. Later they owned 50 acres in an area near Rogan St and Ridge Lane and also developed a farm in the Mangorei area.

 In 1853 Chilman was appointed provincial treasurer, a position he held until 1861 when he became Collector of Customs. He was also Provincial Auditor, Receiver of Land Revenue and the Taranaki militia's Acting-Paymaster.

 He was a churchwarden and vestryman at St Mary's Church from 1846 to 1875, a member of the first New Plymouth Borough Council elected in 1876, a New Plymouth Savings Bank trustee, a Justice of the Peace and chaired the Taranaki Petroleum Company, the Opunake Flax Company, the Pioneer Steel Company and the New Plymouth Harbour Board.

 He died in 1877 in New Plymouth at the age of 60.

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Chilman Street (TDN 28/03/2009) by Christine Nana is Copyright Act 1994