Topic: Mill Island

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The island on the Avon River between Worcester and Hereford streets, was originally the site of a flour mill built in 1859.

Mill Island is a small island in the Avon River between Hereford and Worcester street.Water wheel, Mill Island, September 2009

The island was purchased in 1855 by Daniel Inwood, an English miller, who arrived in Christchurch in 1850. As part of his purchase, he obtained a 30 year lease from the council to use the island and river for milling. The original flour mill which he built in 1859 was known as Inwood's Mill or City Mill.

Following the purchase of the mill and island in 1862 by William Hannibal Lane it became known as Lane’s Mill. Following his purchase, Lane had the wooden exterior covered in corrugated iron.

Between 1878-1888 the mill was leased to various companies including the grain merchant, C.W. Turner (who leased it in 1878) and the biscuit company, Aulsebrook and Co. (1883-1885).

When the original lease for use of the river for milling expired in 1888 the mill machinery was removed.

In May 1894 the mill building became a homeless shelter run by Baptist pastor, William Birch. It continued in this role until September 1895.

In 1897 Lane sold the island and the mill building to the council. The mill building was demolished and there were suggestions to use the island as a location for a morgue. The proposal, however, was not carried through, and in March 1898 it was decided to call the island The Mill Island.

The Christchurch Beautifying Association (founded 1897) started a subscription to fund the planting of both native and exotic trees on the island. This project began in May 1898. Species that were originally planted included magnolias, kowhai, maple, roses and northern rata. In June 1898 a ceremony was held in honour of the work done by the Christchurch Beautifying Association in transforming the island. During subsequent years members have been involved in planting programmes of refurbishment and renewal.

A decorative water wheel (but not a replica of the original) was erected on the island in 1997 to celebrate the centennial of the Christchurch Beautifying Association.

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