Posts Tagged ‘William Balfour WATSON’

Brothers David George WATSON and William Balfour WATSON worked at the Picton Freezing Works. They are the two young men in the centre, back row in this photo of Picton Freezing Works Employees taken on 11/03/1913.  William (Bill) is on the left as you look at the photo (he’s wearing a white shirt), David is the one holding a stick. The sheep at the front of the photo is most likely a Judas sheep. Judas sheep were trained to lead the sheep awaiting slaughter from the pens into the slaughtering house. They often wore a  collar or were marked in some way so they weren’t mistakenly killed.

Picton’s freezing works commenced operations in the 1900-01 season and was a major employer in the town.  The Picton works were situated in Shakespeare Bay. The harbour-front location was common for such works, facilitating the shipping of the frozen carcasses.

Image from Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ. Reference Number: Eph-A-MEAT-1914-01

The following extract is from  The Cyclopedia of New Zealand – Canterbury Provincial District – 1903

…The Christchurch Meat Company was started in 1889; and the chief efforts of the company have always been devoted to the utilisation of “by products,” and to the accommodation of the small sheep farmers. Starting with a capital of £33,000, it has grown till its subscribed stock is valued at £140,000, and the combined works handle over one million carcases per annum. The Christchurch Company’s Works, at Islington, can put through 9000 sheep a day, and have a storage of 140,000; the works at Smithfield (Timaru) can put through 6000 daily, and store 120,000; the works at Picton can put through 2000 daily, and store 35,000. The daily freezing capacity of all the twentyfive refrigerating works for both islands of New Zealand, amounts to 52,700; and of these, the Christchurch Company’s works can account for 17,000, or about one-third of the whole. The company’s business is stated to consist in “the killing and freezing of cattle, sheep, lambs, and pork, the killing and preserving of beef and mutton, the manufacture of tallow and olio, patent fertilisers, glue, and gelatine, the fellmongering of skins, and the curing of pelts, all of these being prepared for export.” On such a subject independent testimony from outsiders is always valuable; and the following extract from the “Australasian” of the 10th of June, 1899, on the subject of the Christchurch Meat Company, may serve to give some idea of the importance of this industry to Canterbury, and, indeed, to the whole colony: “The thing that most of all arrested attention was the manner in which all refuse, even to the last shred, is utilised in the manufacture of byproducts. The words ‘waste’ and ‘refuse’ are absolutely unknown. Everything is the raw material for some useful commodity, and it is said that it is largely out of these by-products that the profit is made. Several qualities of tallow are turned out, fertilisers of a high quality are made from the blood, bones, and other materials; the very cuttings from the pelts are made into a first-class glue which is rapidly displacing the best Russian in the local market. The casks are all made by machinery on the works from local timber, as are the thousands of packing cases used annually for the sheeps’ tongues and other preserved meats. There is even a department with cutting and sewing machines and a printing press, where bags for the frozen sheep are made, and brands printed on them. The company’s direct wages bill is £53,000 a year. Its output last year (1898) was just under one million sheep and lambs, 9000 bales of wool, 7000 casks of tallow, and 4000 tons of fertilisers. The railway bill for last season’s operations amounted to £22,000. Workmen are provided with comfortable homes, which they may rent or purchase from the company. There is a recreation hall for the use of themselves and their families, and a lending library, with a good stock of standard works. If all this were done by the Government, it would be blazoned from one end of the world to the other, but as a mere matter of ordinary business it passes unnoticed. It is an object lesson which gives us at a glance, the whole secret of New Zealand’s prosperity.”

The Christchurch Meat Company devoted special attention to by-products, with the result that the company now annually turns out about four thousand tons of manures and fertilisers, manufactured from the offal, viscera and blood. Another most important branch of the business is in the manufacture of table delicacies and tinned meats, such as sheeps’ tongues, corned, boiled, roasted, spiced and curried mutton, with the same varieties of beef, lambs’ feet, liver and bacon, brawn, potted head, meat extract and stock for soups.

Bill and David worked at the Picton Freezing Works until the end of 1915 when the Watson family left the Marlborough district and headed to the North Island. Here are two references for David from his employers. It’s nice to know that he was leaving the district on his own accord and wasn’t being run out of town!


To whom it may concern
I have much pleasure in stating that the bearer Mr D.G. Watson as been working for me for three years, as a general hand in the fellmongery, chiefly in the press room, the last two seasons I placed him pulling, and he as done other work when required, he as always given me every satisfaction, and very attentive to his work, I have always found him to be a sober honest reliable man.

I have much pleasure in recommending him to anyone who may want a man for the above work.

John Toon
Foreman Felling Dept
Freezing Works

Finally here’s a photo of High Street, Picton circa 1910. The building behind the men at the right of the photo is the Terminus Hotel. Photo courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library. Link to image http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=109147

High Street, Picton - circa 1910


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William Balfour WATSON was the second son and sixth child of William and Ann (nee BALFOUR) WATSON. He was my grandfather’s (David George WATSON) older brother so I guess that makes him my great uncle. I believe he was known to family as Bill.

William (Bill) was born at 5.10am on 24 March 1891. His parents were living in Main Street, Kinross at the time and William Watson (snr) was a coal merchant. Bill was aged 14 when the Watson family emigrated to New Zealand.

On 22 May 1912 Bill married Josephine Maud PINKHAM (known as Maud) at the Terminus Hotel, Picton. [Click on the image to enlarge.]

This photo is of the wedding party and family members. The photo was taken, I presume, inside the Terminus Hotel. Don’t you just love that lino on the floor? I don’t know the names of all the people in this photo but will name the ones I know.

Front row from left to right: John WATSON, Hester LEWIS (Maud’s cousin and bridesmaid), Maud PINKHAM, William Balfour WATSON, David George WATSON and Ernest PINKHAM (Maud’s brother). John, William Balfour and David George are brothers.

Back row from left to right: William WATSON, his daughter Julie WATSON, Ann Mitchell WATSON. The two little boys are probably John and Effie WATSON’s children William and James and the two little girls most likely Annie and Barbara SMITH, daughters of Donald Moir and Nellie (Helen) Mitchell (nee WATSON) SMITH. The woman with the hat is, I believe, Effie (nee EWAN) WATSON and the woman in black next to the youngest girl is Nellie (Helen) Mitchell (nee WATSON) SMITH. The minister, John DICKSON, is standing between Effie and Nellie.

I don’t know who the remaining five people are – possibly members of Maud’s family. ‘Family legend’ says that Maud’s mother refused to go to the wedding because it was being held in a hotel.  Perhaps the couple in the back row are the bridesmaid Hester’s parents. Hester was born in 1897 so was 15 at the time of the wedding in 1912 – it’s quite feasible that her parents would have attended the wedding. Hester’s mother, Susannah’s maiden name was HILTON.

We can be fairly sure that Maud’s father was not at the wedding. I found these newspaper reports on the Papers Past website.

The Evening Post, Thursday 14 February 1901 page 6

The Marlborough Express, 24 June 1901 page 2

Gosh, poor Clara. What a tough life that must have been for her and her children. I wonder if Ed had been a heavy drinker and that influenced her decision not to attend the wedding in the Terminus. Interestingly, I couldn’t find a marriage on the NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages website of a Clara HILTON to Edward PINKHAM in 1887. There was, however, a marriage of a Clara ALLPORT to Edwin Drummond PINKHAM in 1887 (Registration No. 1887/3295).  Now I’m confused – was she a HILTON or an ALLPORT? More searching on the BDM site gave me the answer. Turns out her maiden name was ALLPORT, she then married Ed PINKHAM in 1887 and in 1901 (presumably not long after her divorce was granted) married Henry HILTON (Reg. No. 1901/4520). So the details on the marriage certificate are not quite correct.

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