Topic: P & D Duncan Ltd.

Topic type:

Foundry and engineering firm founded by Peter and David Duncan, known for agricultural implements

Peter and David Duncan were Scottish immigrants who had been trained in smithery and fitting, and after immigrating to New Zealand, founded the business, P & D Duncan Ltd in Christchurch.

David (1832-1897) and Peter (1838-1907) were born at Forfarshire, Scotland, the sons of Ronald Duncan, a farm servant and later overseer, and his wife, Betty Low.

Peter emigrated in 1863, arriving aboard the Lancashire Witch. His first business venture was a partnership with Benjamin Cordery, a Lyttelton blacksmith. Two years after this, he started a business with Alex Scrimgeour, and in 1866 they set up a small establishment in Cashel Street, in the former Albion Brewery site, repairing farm implements. This partnership dissolved in 1868, but Scrimgeour would later become a fitting shop foreman for Duncan’s business. In 1869 a fire destroyed the uninsured premises.

David, Peter’s older brother, arrived in New Zealand in 1867 and by 1870 the pair were working together in partnership, becoming known as P & D Duncan in 1874. They moved to larger premises in Tuam Street, and in 1876 they built a new wheelwrights and blacksmith shop with eight forges for 40 employees. They bought the old Wellington Hotel and turned this premises into a foundry and fitting shop. By 1891 the business would expand to 19 forges and 108 employees.

Premises of P & D Duncan's agricultural implement manufacturing plant, Christchurch. Webb, Steffano, 1880-1967 : Collection of negatives. Ref: 1/1-019290-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23008254P & D Duncan Limited was incorporated in 1894, with shares being held by the Duncans, their families and Peter Duncan's brother-in-law, James Keir.  David was chairman, Peter managing director, and both had sons on the salaried staff. Charles Edkins was the company's accountant and secretary.

In 1897 the company manufactured its most well-known product, the spring-tooth cultivator. James Keir, brother of Jessie Duncan, valued for his designing skill in modern machinery, moved from the Ashburton branch to participate in its development. In July of that year David Duncan died. It would be the start of the end of the brother's involevment in the firm with Peter then retiring through ill health in 1901. John, son of David, became managing director and chairman of the Board. James Keir would become a director in 1902, and L.L. Cordery was appointed accountant and secretary to replace Charles Edkins in 1905. After the death of Peter in 1907, and the retirement of John Duncan, James Keir and L.L. Cordery would become co-managing directors.

Former P & D Duncan Ltd Building, 204 St Asaph StreetIn 1903, as part of a wider site redevelopment, the firm had a three storey brick building constructed in St Asaph Street which included a foundry and pattern store. The building was designed by the Architects Clarkson and Ballatyne, and built by the firm Rennie and Pearce.

In 1986 the business of P. & D. Duncan closed, after a century of contribution to the development of New Zealand agriculture.

Personal Life

Peter Duncan married Jessie Keir on 26 October 1866 in Christchurch; and they were to have seven sons and a daughter (John Ronald 1867-1909, Charles Peter 1869-1897, David Alexander 1870-1892, Henry Thomas 1872-1902, William Keir 1875-1910, James 1878- , Norman McPherson 1880-1920, and Jessie Pow 1885-  ). Peter Duncan and his family lived in number of properties in Christchurch including houses in Madras / Barbadoes Streets, and on Lincoln Road. In 1902 Peter had 'Airdmhor' on Lincoln Road, Halswell, built for his family's residence.

Before he emigrated David Duncan had married Ann Bookless Robertson, a domestic servant, at Montrose, Forfarshire, in1858, and they had two daughters and a son, John. Ann died in 1864, and David remarried Mary Ann Skene (née Duncan), a widow, in 1865, and they also had  a son. It is unclear if Mary and the other children accompanied David when he emigrated to join his brother, but his eldest son John did.  They arrived at Lyttelton on the Blue Jacket in August 1867.

 

References

  • Thornton, Geoffrey G. New Zealand's Industrial Heritage. Wellington : Reed, 1982.
  • John Pollard. 'Duncan, David and Duncan, Peter', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  • Record for Peter Duncan from Macdonald Dictionary of Canterbury Biography project, 1952-1964. Macdonald, G. R, Canterbury Museum.
  • Record for David Duncan from Macdonald Dictionary of Canterbury Biography project, 1952-1964. Macdonald, G. R, Canterbury Museum.
  • Entry 1911 - P. & D. Duncan Building. Heritage New Zealand List.
  • Obituary. MR PETER DUNCAN, Press, Volume LXIII, Issue 12720, 5 February 1907
  • Obituary. MR. DAVID DUNCAN., Star, Issue 5912, 2 July 1897
  • MR JOHN DUNCAN, Press, Volume LXV, Issue 13537, 25 September 1909
  • OBITUARY., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXI, Issue 7910, 25 September 1909
  • CITY IMPROVEMENTS., Press, Volume LXI, Issue 11853, 28 March 1904
  • Premises of P & D Duncan's agricultural implement manufacturing plant, Christchurch. Webb, Steffano, 1880-1967 : Collection of negatives. Ref: 1/1-019290-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23008254
  • MARRIAGE., Sun, Volume III, Issue 659, 21 March 1916
  • Cultivator Trial., Waimate Daily Advertiser, Volume III, Issue 128, 26 March 1901

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion