NZHPT Information release
23 January 2013
One of North Otago’s historic gems is opening its doors to the public throughout all of February, giving visitors increased access to a significant part of New Zealand’s industrial and agricultural history.
Clarks Mill, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) property south of Oamaru is usually open only on Sundays, but for the whole of February it will be open daily from 10am to 4pm. In addition, the mill’s machinery will be operating at 2pm on Sundays and 11am on Thursdays.
Clarks Mill is New Zealand’s only surviving originally water-powered flour mill with early machinery still substantially intact. The mill was built around 1865 as part of the nearby Totara Estate and has been owned by NZHPT since 1977. It is the second oldest mill in the country and offers a significant link to one of New Zealand’s most important agricultural industries.
NZHPT Heritage Destinations Manager for the Southern Region Paul McGahan says the extended hours will help inform plans for the future development of the site.
“As well as a marvellous opportunity for heritage lovers, it’s a chance for us to get feedback from visitors about their experience as well as what else they would like to see, and improvements we could make.”
Mr McGahan says the mill and its machinery provide a great insight into early industrial processes in New Zealand, particularly as the machinery is still largely intact.
“Inside Clarks Mill has been likened to being inside the working parts of a giant clock with its large wheels and belts that once moved flour through four storeys,” he says.
The mill is also significant as a particularly fine Oamaru stone building, forming part of the large group of Oamaru stone buildings in the Waitaki District. Part of the mill was created with limestone cut from the hill behind the mill.
The mill’s heavy machinery was brought to New Zealand by boat from the United Kingdom, Australia and United States in the 1860s and 1870s. Originally, wheat was ground using horizontal mill stones, which were powered by an ‘undershot’ waterwheel. Roller machinery was introduced in the 1890s and electric power was added in the 1930s.
In 1901 the mill was sold to the Clark family, who operated it for the next 75 years, and it is now best known as Clarks Mill.
For more on the history of Clarks Mill visit http://www.historic.org.nz/TheRegister/RegisterSearch/RegisterResults.aspx?RID=346
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New Zealand Historic Places Trust
tel: (04) 470 8066 or 027 683 9065