A certain period early in the 20th century was remarkable for the construction of handsome hotels in Timaru, but this activity was preceded by the buildings that got Timaru working, so to speak. Brickworks at Makikihi, Timaru and Ashburton would have been inundated by the pressing demand for mills, warehouses, granaries and stores.
These buildings have set a unique tone and flavour to the Timaru waterfront, and some stand out as local landmarks, much loved by the wider community. Perhaps there are several threads to this love affair: the sheer strength of endeavour in constructing these big beauties; the association with grain growing as a key element of the local economy; the visual richness of handsome brickwork quite cleverly detailed; and the sense of security provided by these sentinels facing the ocean.
The Timaru Mill is one of those rarities, protected by Category I status under Heritage New Zealand's ranking system and Category A status under the Timaru District Plan. The mill was built for James Bruce and partner, later to be managed by the Timaru Milling Company. When opened in 1882 the mill was the first in New Zealand to use steel rollers rather than grindstones, setting a trend soon emulated by others.
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