Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Albert Crum’s New Zealand Brick, Tile & Pottery Company in New Lynn (1905-1929)

The New Lynn works. Image from a letterhead held in the J T Diamond collection, Waitakere Central Library, Henderson

I started researching this because of the interest shown in the New Lynn brickworks managed by Albert Crum by the members of the NZ Pottery Forum. I suspect that this post will be updated as time progresses and more information comes to light.

The first NZ Brick, Tile and Pottery Company

There were at least two companies which operated under the grand name of the New Zealand Brick, Tile & Pottery Company, separated by around two decades and the colony’s geography, and not connected with each other in any other way at all. It may have been that when the second company was being put together, the name probably sounded suitable to adopt.

The original NZBT&P company was an amalgamation of four Canterbury firms: Walter Austin & Henry Bland Kirk earthenware and brickmakers in Sydenham, William Neighbours brickmaker, John Brightling (a night-soil contractor and gravel-pit owner) and James Goss (Canterbury Timber & Coal Depot).

“It appears the members of the abovementioned firms have taken up 350 £5 shares in addition to the 1177 paid-up shares which they have received for the purchase of their premises and stock-in-trade. A large number of shares have also teen subscribed for by the public, and applications for others are still coming in freely. By the amalgamation of the business of the four factories, the saving effected on the former cost of working will, it is estimated, be very considerable. Judging from their former experience, the members of the firms concerned have every confidence in the success of the undertaking.”
Christchurch Star, 1 February 1886

Initially, the new firm worked well, and made quite a splash at exhibitions.

“Industrial Association
The New Zealand Brick, Tile and Pottery Company had sent a collection of specimens, in various designs, of terra cotta, window and door arches, finials, garden vases, air bricks, string courses, brackets, &c, made from fire-clay and stone from the Port Hills ; also, some samples of a rich red colour, from the clay of the Malvern Hills. This handsome exhibit had been intended for the Indian and Colonial Exhibition, but had not been in time for it.”

Christchurch Star 15 April 1886

But, as with so major commercial initiatives during the Long Depression, especially new brickworks, their dream run came to an end. They tried for liquidation in 1890.

“This afternoon Messrs H. Matson and Co., associated with the National Mortgage and Agency Company, submitted by public auction, by instruction of Messrs C. Kiver and Joseph Jebson, the liquidators, the various properties in the estate of the New Zealand Brick, Tile and Pottery Company. Mr J. T. Matson acted as auctioneer, but no sale was effected. It was announced that the properties would be open for sale privately.”
Christchurch Star 12 July 1890

The Friedlanders

The next element to our story is that of the German-born Friedlander brothers of Ashburton. Hugo Friedlander and two of his brothers set up a store and dwelling “near the upper ferry of the Rangitata” by July 1872, and their business boomed. One brother, Max, became the proprietor of the Ashburton Guardian by 1881, the same year the brothers moved their store and started entering into the quarrying business at Mt Somers. This quarry they dubbed “Kolmar”, after the family’s original home in East Prussia (today’s Poland), and produced “Kolmar Stone”.

In January 1882, the brothers, Hugo, Rudolph and Max purchased the premises and brickworks of Montgomery & Co Ltd in Ashburton. (Christchurch Star, 25 January 1882, Ashburton Guardian 17 February 1990)

[by our own reporter.]
In the young colonies of the Pacific, towns make progress so rapidly that affairs of even five years ago are matters of history. Specially so is this the case in a town like Ashburton, which, only twelve or thirteen years since, was little more than a patch of native tussock, surrounded by large tracts of land similarly covered. Thirteen years ago, Ashburton town and county seemed to have a bright future before them. The agricultural land, still unbroken and innocent of tillage, was rapidly going into the hands of men who either meant to make homes upon it for themselves and those dependent upon them, or to hold it until other men in want of land, on which to settle with the same object in view, should come along to buy at an enhanced figure.

It was in 1878 that a land ''boom" ensued in Canterbury which, although for a time it let loose much money in the district and enriched many people, brought ruin to some and disaster to many more. There are men in the county now who, although they have weathered the storm raised by the reaction that followed the "boom," are still suffering from the financial crippling they received during that time of reckless speculation, when men -- wild with an earth-hunger that could not be satisfied, and frenzied with a thirst for speculation that was only intensified and not assuaged by every fresh transaction—rushed to the crowded auction rooms, and bought land at prices far beyond the power of the soil to recoup. Men who had by hard toil earned the capital they invested, who knew land when they saw it, and could judge of its fertility—such men, in cases where they had sense not to be carried away by the prevailing panic, and paid only a reasonable figure for the land, in the market, had every chance to do well. Buying only enough to be worked by themselves, they started in true colonial pioneer style; building, often with their own hands, the rude whares in which they and their little families lived for a time, they practised economies of all sorts. An immense sum of money accrued to the Road Boards in the county from subsidies granted by Government out of the sale of Crown lands, and this money was devoted to the making of roads, and works of a like nature, throughout the country. Contracts for these works were taken by many of those who are now among our most stable farmers, and from the money so earned numbers were able to add a few more acres to their holdings, and to improve their farms by the erection of buildings and the execution of permanent works. But there were others who, with no practical knowledge of farming, no experience whatever of land or the capabilities of soil, rushed to the auction rooms, bought madly and badly, "improved," not wisely but too well and, when the time came for reckoning results, found that their ledgers did not tally to please their bankers. Then followed the usual trouble, and the land passed into the hands of other proprietors, sometimes without any " V.R. " announcement preliminary to an interview with Judge Ward; as often with 'an appeal to that officer to settle all-creditors' claims with a dash of his pen. How much in the pound that dash represented—lo, is it not written in the records of the Bankruptcy Court?

Roughly, the above is an outline of how the county was settled. The question was simply one of the man lasting: through who best knew his business, and who realised most clearly that wealth could not be reached with a hop, step and jump—that, to be successful as a farmer on the Canterbury Plains wanted both the will and the ability to work, and .that agricultural knowledge! must be in the brain of the possessor of a "Farmers' Dictionary," as well as within the boards of the manual. But for all this the county was settled with a great rush, and the town rose up with a most astonishing rapidity. The rush of farmers to the land necessarily drew on a rush of town business. Houses went up, almost in a night like Jonah's gourd, and many of them in the early time were let before the piles were laid.

Then was the builders' harvest: then was the demand for building material that has never since been equalled ; and then it was—in 1877 —that Mr Stephen Potter saw an opening for the establishment of a brick kiln. He was not the only one who ventured brick making; but he is the only one now engaged in the work in the county if we bar the private kiln on the Longbeach estate, managed by Mr Hillyer. The industry is one deserving notice, and we can hardly realise that one of such importance to townsman and, farmer alike has remained for so long unnoticed, at least to any extent, by either local or metropolitan press.

The Kolmar Brick and Pipe Works are situated on the North-east Town Belt, and are the property of Messrs Friedlander Bros. They were started in 1877 by Mr Stephen Potter, their present manager, on his own account. He was then working a kiln of the old Scotch fashion, but the then requirements of the district were such as to indicate to the managers of the now defunct Company of Montgomery and Co., that a brick kiln of greatly enlarged capacity would be necessary if the local demand was to be supplied from a local source. They bought out Mr Potter, who became their manager, and bought over his plant from his own section of land to that of the Company, which adjoined. When Montgomery and Co. wound up, Messrs Friedlander Bros, bought the whole of their Ashburton business, including the brick field, Mr Potter still remaining in charge. There are not many men in the Colony with the experience in his particular line that Mr Potter possesses. Trained in Staffordshire, that great pottery county, and working for the best part of his early manhood in Lancashire, he is acquainted with all the processes in brick, pipe, and tile work, whether in red ware, glazed, or fire clay.


The kiln is the second that has been built on the site it now occupies. The first was an oblong structure, adopted contrary to Mr Potter's advice and, proving unsatisfactory, was pulled down. The present one is circular in form, and in the new well known German principle —a vast improvement on the old. process. By the German kiln there is no waste of heat, and a very much increased output of bricks or other red ware is rendered possible, with the minimum consumption of fuel. This circular kiln was built by Mr Potter himself, with the aid of the lads employed, and is of twelve "chambers," with a total burning capacity of 60,000 or 70,000 bricks.

For years the attention of the proprietors was almost wholly devoted to the manufacture of bricks, but as the farmers of the county troubled with wet land, began to find themselves financially able to attempt draining, a demand sprang up for red-ware drain pipes, and this demand Kolmar pipe works set about supplying. At the present moment three or four of the chambers of the kiln are full of 3-inch drain pipes, ready for burning, while long lines of newly moulded pipes of similar calibre are laid out in the sheds undergoing the drying process by atmospheric influence fit for the kiln.


The yard is on a block of fourteen acres, covering a stratum of clay admirably suited for the purposes of the works. In fact, a considerable area of the land in the immediate vicinity has good brickmaking clay quite near the surface; but the actual working yard is only six acres in extent—that is, only six acres are utilised. The clay is "got" at present between the mill race and the kiln, and in the "clay hole" the depth of the stratum is at once seen, a face of six or seven feet presenting itself to the visitor. The situation of the yard is such that on all sides water is available for tempering the clay, and several natural gullies and small creeks running through the land provide a natural drainage system for the clay holes. The raw material, after tempering, is carried on plankways to the "pug" mills, and thence to the brick moulders, who have their benches in the extreme corners of the extensive


There are benches for four moulders, and the sheds are large enough to store for drying all the bricks and pipes- the moulders could possibly turn out between "firings." The sheds are on either side of the kiln, and are in two sets of three: In length they run to 170 feet per shed by 17 feet wide, so that it will be seen there is plenty of ground roofed in from the weather.


Of recent years the making of red ware drain pipes has become a specialty at the Kolmar, and perfect machinery for the purpose has been set up. "Dies" are there, capable of turning out pipes of almost any size, from a 2-inch to a 12-inch calibre, and in lengths from twelve inches up to two feet. Farmers who have been heard to growl about "sending money out of the place" have now no reason for complaint, when pipes equal in quality to any shown at the Christchurch show in November last—as the writer can bear testimony —are offered for sale at about the same price per thousand as bricks. At least £2 17s 6d was quoted by Mr Potter for 12-inch pipes of 12-inch lengths. Elbows, junctions, bends etc., for facilitating laying are also made so that a farmer can lay down his own system of drainage with the ordinary labor strength on his farm. Chimney pots of various kinds are also produced; and all sorts of rough red pottery. Even rustic firm vases for lawn and garden have been demanded and made at the works, along with paving tiles for dairy floors, baker's ovens, etc., and the sample of the latter shown by Mr Potter are a credit to him. The larger sized pipes, as indeed all the ware turned out, are of superior quality indeed, thanks to the excellent clay got from the land and the good workmanship of its manipulators. The demand for both bricks and pipes it would be a pleasure to see increased, so that the moulders should be always busy and the tall 70-feet chimney stalk of the kiln only cease smoking to admit of the chambers being emptied and refilled. The long stalk is a sort of landmark as it is to travellers, but it would be doubly so were its black throat always busy.

Ashburton Guardian 2 July 1890

The site of the Kolmar Brickworks was apparently originally owned by Henry John Tancred, in conjunction with a brother Sir Thomas Tancred and John Collins Allen in 1877 (Ashburton Guardian, 16 August 1978). H J Tancred limped and had blurred speech from wounds received as an officer in an Austrian Hussar regiment (Ashburton Guardian, 17 February 1990) although he was in fact born in 1816 on the Isle of Wight.

It should be again noted here that at no point was the Ashburton Kolmar yard involved with the Christchurch-based NZ Brick, Tile and Pottery syndicate.

The Crums

John Crum (1834-1918) was born in Monmouthshire, South Wales. It appears he arrived in New Zealand with his family in either 1878 (Ashburton Museum records) or 1875. One son, Albert (1863-1951, born in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire) was to feature prominently in the history of brickmaking in New Lynn – although, while his father was a mason by trade, Albert tried out other trades and skills, including chimney sweep in 1888. By October 1892, however, he was in business with his father as a mason and concrete contractor. In 1895, when the Friedlanders sold their Kolmar brickworks, John and Albert Crum were the purchasers.

Ashburton Guardian 31 May 1895

But still, Albert did some inventive dabbling on the side.

“An Ashburton Invention.
Mr Crum and another Ashburton resident are the inventors of an improved bicycle for which they are taking steps to obtain a patent. A machine on the lines of their invention has we see just been manufactured to their order by Messrs Curties and Co. of Christchurch, about which the Lyttelton Times furnishes the following particulars: The ordinary crank bracket, with cranks, chain wheel and chain are done away with, and two special quadrant pedal levers are arranged so as to rock up and down in arc of circle, instead of taking a complete revolution, as in the ordinary motion, thus obviating the dead centre. In operation, when one lever is pushed down, the cord pulls a clutch round, which grips and turns the driving wheel. By the connecting wire over the wheel the opposite clutch is wound backward, and, consequently, pulls up the other pedal lever ready for the next stroke. As the driving mechanism is independent of the wheel any length of stroke may be taken up to sixteen inches. By an ingenious contrivance, the taking of shorter strokes enable great leverage to be obtained for hill climbing and riding against head winds. For fast work full strokes are taken, which brings into play the longer axis of the quadrant. It is claimed that the machine is very suitable for ladies, as, apart from the advantages named, there is no danger of a lady cyclist tearing her dress owing to the pedalling being back and forth and not continuous.”
Ashburton Guardian 12 March 1896

The Kolmar Brickworks was renamed the Ashburton Brickworks, and the Crum family prospered. Albert Crum was even elected to the local Council in 1904.

In August 1905, however, Crum announced that he was leaving Ashburton to take up business in Auckland.

“Business Change.
Mr Albert Crum, who has been proprietor of the Ashburton Brickworks for many years, has sold the works, plant, stock, etc., as a Going concern to Messrs Crum Bros. and Dyhrberg, possession to be given on Monday. The purchase includes the concrete pipe making plant in Moore Street, and also the bricklaying business. Mr Albert Crum goes to Auckland in a few weeks' time to open a large brick tile and pipe making business on behalf of an influential company, of which he has been appointed manager, and in which he is largely financially interested. While we regret that Ashburton is losing a man of the proved business ability of Mr Crum, we trust he will be as successful in his business enterprise in Auckland as he has been here.”
Ashburton Guardian 12 August 1905

His business partner in the venture was Hugo Friedlander, whose family had survived the slight reversal of fortunes which caused the sale of the Kolmar works in 1895. Albert Crum and Hugo Friedlander may have had close business ties since that period, if not before. Now, with a golden opportunity arising in distant New Lynn, the partners took up a defunct business name, called their firm the New Zealand Brick, Tile and Pottery Company, and set off for northern climes.

New Lynn

1908 trademark. From NZ Gazette, 28 May 1908, p. 1580

According to Charles Gardner, in an address given in 1950 (JT Diamond collection, Waitakere Central Library, Henderson), recognising the value of the clay, especially with the establishment of the Gardners works across Rankin Avenue in 1901, a man named Charles Thomson, together with J Gardner and R O (Tonks) Gardner, started what was termed the No. 4 site in 1903 (according to a note from the Crum Collection, recorded by JTD in 1978) on what was a “decayed orchard”. This partnership didn’t work, however, and the site became part of that purchased in 1905 by Friedlander and Crum. Which part this was I’m unable to determine at this time (I might pay LINZ for a couple of application files to find out at some stage soon).

The New Lynn site for Crum and Friedlander’s NZ Brick, Tile and Pottery enterprise was in three sections, the other sections apparently purchased from Astley, Bethell and King (JT Diamond notes). 19 acres fronting onto Rankin Avenue (NA 132/249) was originally part of a farm owned in the 1880s by a chap named Foley.

Along with this, the partnership purchased 35 acres fronting Astley Avenue by 1906 (NA 131/207), and a 10 acre section fronting Clark Street, most likely from John N Bethell, at some point before the 1920s. (NA752/122)

Crum and Friedlander didn’t necessarily start from scratch. Both men had, of course, long experience with managing brickworks in Ashburton, and they certainly used their hometown resources. Ashburton suppliers like Reid and Gray were used (who tendered successfully for supply of the new brickworks’ boilers in September 1905). Ashburton brickmakers were recruited, such as Hugh Sargeant Barrett in 1908, who served as an engineer at the brickyard.

In December 1905, Crum wrote to the Brightside Foundry and Engineering Co Ltd in Sheffield, Yorkshire, ordering a brick press to imprint “Crum” on the bricks. It appears that he had dealt with the firm before, during his days with the Ashburton Brickworks.

“I may mention here that I am associated now with the NZ Brick Tile & Pottery Co Ltd, New Lynn, Auckland, and as regards this company’s bona fides I beg to refer you the National Bank of New Zealand here through their London office. The company named is just [illegible] erecting extensive works and hopes to have them in full swing in almost five months time.”
(Handwritten copy of letter, not original, on JT Diamond collection)

In February 1906, the following report was published in at least Wellington, and Christchurch.

According to Mr E Hartley, the retiring President of the Auckland Branch of the Architects' Institute, the Auckland-made bricks of to-day were not as good as they were 23 years ago, when the Victoria Arcade was built; they did not keep their colour as well, and were not as durable. This was a serious loss, both to the architects and the public, for it meant that they were constantly being driven back on the monstrous compo. It was lamentable and a disgrace to Auckland to think that if they wanted a good facing brick they had to send out of Auckland for it.
Evening Post 16 February 1906

To which Hugo Friedlander (it is believed) wrote the following response to the Auckland Institute of Architects, 16 February, on reading the report in the Christchurch Press:

“In justice to the brickworks I am connected with, I wish to say that the NZ Brick, Tile & Pottery Co at New Lynn will be in a position to supply when its works are completed as good a brick as ever was made in Auckland. It is, as a matter of fact, mainly due to the inferior quality of bricks which were being made in such an important centre as Auckland that the NZ Brick Co was floated. With an up-to-date plant that will run to something like £15,000 and a man in charge who has the undoubted reputation of being the “best brickmaker” in New Zealand there will be no difficulty to give every satisfaction to the members of your Association as regards the quality we shall supply."
(Handwritten copy of letter, not original, on JT Diamond collection)

The J T Diamond notes state:
“The New Zealand Brick, Tile and Pottery Co. Ltd under Crum’s 25 years’ management grew to its present great size and produced a wider range of glazed pipes, bricks, drain tiles and roof tiles than anything previously attempted in the North Island. Salt glazed bricks, now so well known in fireplaces were one of his innovations. The first big job to use these was the Auckland Boys Grammar School, Mt Eden. Glazed pipes were made here first about 1906 with George Holmes in charge.”

Progress, 1 March 1907 offers this description of the works:

“The works of the New Zealand Brick, Tile, and Pottery Company, New Lynn, Auckland, are being laid out with the intention of making them the most up-to-date plant of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Many New Zealanders will be surprised to hear of the extent of these works when completed. They stand upon 73 acres of land, and clay has been tested as far down as 150 ft. One machine is capable of turning out 100,000 bricks per day on the plastic system, of any colour that may be required; but though the machine has this large capacity, it is doubtful if the bricks can be removed in their plastic state as fast as the machine is capable of making them. The plastic system generally is not supposed to give such a perfectly formed brick as the various press machines, but this particular machine turns out bricks wonderfully true, square, and smooth.

"After leaving the machine they are dried by artificial heat in one day, and are then burnt and ready for market in about two weeks. The kiln is of the continuous kind, with a capacity of from 30 to 40 thousand daily; the draught is specially controlled and arranged in such a way as to be away from the workmen, making it much more pleasant to operate. Sanitary ware will be specialised, and very soon glazed bricks and tiles will be made. The larger kinds of pottery, as demi-johns, bread pans, sinks, etc., will be also made here. Fire-clay goods will constitute a fair percentage of the output, as a specially good clay is available. The abattoirs at Otahuhu are taking the first of the company's output.

"As artificial drying forms a feature in the process of manufacture, a large Hornsby steam boiler of 390 hp , working pressure 160 ft per sq in., is installed and supplies heat for artificial drying and steam for the engine, which is one of Tangyes' 105 hp.

"The managing director is Mr. Hugo Friedlander of Ashburton. Mr. A. Crum kindly showed our representative around, and we hope when these works are in regular running order to supply our readers with some views of them.”

The First World War may have been a challenge for Albert Crum. While he was a British citizen, his partner Hugo Friedlander, although probably naturalised, was viewed as an enemy alien. In Ashburton after the war, the Friedlander businesses shut down for good. 

 Ashburton Guardian 7 October 1919

It was difficult for businesses to operate in New Zealand during the war,if the proprietors were seen to be citizens of the German Empire – so, there is little wonder, then, that Friedlander’s part in establishing Crum’s brickyard has been downplayed over the years.

Added to that, business was also curtailed somewhat during the war years. During an appeal by Charles Gardner against being called up for war service in 1917, it was found:

“… there were no less than five firms carrying on the brick trade …Counsel had discovered that since the war, the firms engaged had found it necessary to curtail the output, and some had decided to close down certain of their works in common bricks with one exception – that of Gardner Bros. and Parker. The firms which had closed down were receiving a bonus as their share of the undertaking to close down.”

Poverty Bay Herald, 11 December 1917

Even so Jack T Diamond’s notes, taken from a note written in pencil in an exercise book from 1918, showing 1919 figures, has it that NZ Brick, Tile and Pottery produced 600,000 bricks, compared with 620,000 for Gardner's and 600,000 for J J Craig at Avondale (the other two were Lauries', 160,000, and Archibald's, 64,000).

In 1923, a quarter section, part of the original 19 acres fronting onto Rankin Avenue, was transferred from the company to Albert Crum himself (NA 291/293). Was this where he lived? There seems to have been small buildings on the site as late as 1940, but these were completely obliterated by 1959. Today, it’s all part of the Monier site.

The first moves towards the rise of the Amalgamated Brick & Pipe Company came in 1925, when Thomas Edwin Clark, from the Hobsonville works became a shareholder of NZ Brick Tile and Pottery. Before then, the company probably had just the partnership of Crum and Friedlander as major shareholders, and the name does not appear to have been registered back in 1905. When the old partnership liquidated to form the new company with shareholders they found that the registration was blocked, as the first NZBT&P company – yes, that one back in 1886 in Christchurch, with no connection to Crum or Friedlander – had not formally liquidated and therefore relinquished the name. This was just a slight hiccup, however. The Christchurch registration office did the paperwork, seeing as the first company had ceased operations around 35 years prior, and approval for the name NZ Brick, Tile & Potteries was finally and formally granted in July 1925. (File on the company, BADZ 5181 477, Archives New Zealand)

In 1928, just before the amalgamation, the scope of the employment at brickworks at New Lynn was as follows (from the JT Diamond notes):

Manager: James Sims Ockleston
Assistant Manager: Jack Albert Crum (Albert Crum’s son)
Burnt Pipe Dept: One foreman, seven workmen.
Unburnt Pipe Dept: One foreman, eight workmen.
Tile Dept.: One foreman, nine workmen
Claypit: One foreman, twelve workmen
Workshop: Four staff
Carpenters: Two.
Bricklayers: Two
Unburnt Brick Dept.: Fourteen staff
One engine driver
Two office staff
Burnt Brick Dept.: Eight staff
Two contract men in the brick dept.
Two crowders
Five draggers.

Evening Post 16 March 1929
After the amalgamation

With the amalgamation, of course, the name NZ Brick, Tile & Pottery faded away. Albert Crum set up his family, sons Gordon, Jack and Colin, with their own pottery business fronting onto Great North and Portage Roads in 1929, the Crum Brick, Tile & Pottery Co. This, however, was not without controversy. A deputation of ratepayers protested the granting of town planning approval by the New Lynn Borough Council in October that year.

“Mr. Putt … addressed the council. The petitions, he said, were not the outcome of any feeling of antagonism. Mr Crum was a most esteemed citizen of New Lynn and residents would never forget his generosity in the past, more particularly for his donation of land for road purposes in front of the school. ‘No one wants to see the pottery industry crushed in New Lynn, but we think such a heavy industry should be relegated to the correct quarters. It should be zoned, as far as possible, to the railway frontages.”

Mr Putt said it was proposed to erect the new works right at the gateway of New Lynn. Such a proposal should be opposed both from aesthetic and land value points of view. New Lynn would become a large residential district and they could look forward to the time when it would be a desirable place for middle-class people. If the only entrance to the borough was to be defiled by unsightly buildings, many residents would suffer, because properties would rapidly decrease in value …

Mr Crum, who was allowed to be present at the meeting, denied that land values would recede if the pottery works were erected. He had been offered an alternative side on the other side of the Whau Creek [this would have been in Avondale!], and if the council decided that the works would not be erected on the site intended, then they would be erected across the boundary in the city area.”
Auckland Star, 8 October 1929

The Borough Council, despite the opposition, granted Crum approval. (NZ Herald, 9 October 1929)

The works at Great North Road closed down in the late 1970s, around the same time as the Ashburton Brickworks, still run by members of the Crum family, put out the fires in their kilns for the last time.

My thanks to Ashburton Museum, Archives New Zealand, and the staff at the J T Diamond Reading Room, Waitakere Central Library at Henderson and the Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Central Library for their assistance with this research.


  1. Lisa, did you know that Jack and Dolly Crum raised their family in the house two sections down from you? They were a wonderful couple, their children were quite abit older than us so we didn't really know them, but Jack and Dolly always had time for the neighbouring children.

    Gail E.

  2. Yes I did, Gail. I used to visit Dolly Crum before she went into the rest home.

  3. i believe my back yard borders albert crums old house and "site"s...

    .............. was transferred from the company to Albert Crum himself (NA 291/293). Was this where he lived? There seems to have been small buildings on the site as late as 1940, but these were completely obliterated by 1959. Today, it’s all part of the Monier site.........

    infact there is a trail which is obvious it used to be a road a long time ago.. there is a bunch of "small" foundations... alll stone. there is also a small creek that runs through them all...

    can someone please find me some more history directed to my "backyard" where i grew up and always wondered what used to be back there.... please... im on to something here

    please read this article:

    the 50 acre crum's side hill farm is my backyard, and that "hennion"pond is infront of my house and i look at it through my front window every day

    please someone post a reply regarding more imformation and links to get a good understanding of what was back there 100 years ago

  4. Eric, you're talking about an American Crum family, aren't you?

  5. i am unsure, im just going by these 2 websites.. i believe american or not the land where i live was infact used to do the work crum did in new zealand.. the man who owns all the property and is the founder of the camp is last name "Friedman" kinda very simlar to "friedlander"

  6. but yes i am from new jersey in united states

  7. My Aunt, Dorothy Smith of 100 Rosebank Road, Avondale, Auckland was a friend of Dolly Crum. (My brother seems to think that she worked for the Crums) I moved to Hamilton New Zealand in Nov 2008 from S Africa. Would have loved to have been here when my aunt was still alive - she passed away in 1976'

  8. I lived in New Lynn Auckland NZ. The era of the Crum family we knew & went to school with, would be children of the 30s & 40s. Living in a St beside the New Lynn school I often walked through the school to a street opposite the main gates, down Rata Ave, to what we called the village. (The New Lynn shopping centre) There was a long building made of corrugated Iron that filled most of one side of this street. I always believed this was part of Crum Brick & Tile but their main office was on the corner of the Great Nth Rd & Portage Rd by the Whau Bridge. My brothers were friendly with Rodger. There was an older brother & two sisters that I recall. I am darned if I can bring more names off the tip of my tongue. One married a Dr who had a practice in Glen Eden. Moody was the name. The family was also involved with the Lynndale Athletic Club in Portage Rd. I was under the impression the family lived in Kelston, New Lynn. They were a lovely family.
    I was fascinated to read of their link to the Friedlanders. There was a father & son who were Dentists in New Lynn. They lived on the Great Nth Rd, in Henderson. I used to pray I would get my appointment with the son. We called the father `the butcher. Many years later I was told by one of his family members that he had been a butcher. lol
    Thanks for the memories.

    1. I remember going to school with Roger. Nice guy. At the same time my family were friends of the Friedlanders.

    2. My father worked for the crum brick and tile in new lynn cnr great north and Portage by Whau creek bridge late 60's early 70's till they closed their doors. They were also good friends of our family, my oldest brother was seriously injured at work and later died in hospital in 1969. We lived in a private street of Parker ave. We used to walk through the rainy's garden center which is still there and cross into the crums residents and walk with the 2 son's Bruce, Ian and the younger sister to school. Their house entrance was off Titirangi rd. And we all went to Fruitvale primary and Glen eden intermediate the Kelston boys. Their father was also Ian crum the owner of Crum brick and Tile and yes they wete very good athletes at Lynndale Athletics club and ee also played rugby at suburbs green bay. They were an awesome family who looked after their employers, who helped and donated to those in need.The boys were great friends. I hope that helped with any inquiries.

  9. Hi, so enjoy reading all your articles.
    I have a copy of a photo of a large group of workers outside the New Lynn Potteries, taken in mid 1940's. I am happy to share, if interested

    1. Which "New Lynn Potteries", Louisa? In the 1940s there was Crum at Portage Road, but also Amalgamated. I'd love to publish it here, thanks for the offer!

  10. Hi, sorry my memory is very vague as to what potteries the photo is. It been years since I researched this side of the family(Smiths of Herekino) 2 descendants from this family Arthur Cave and Joey Leach, cousins, worked at this potteries.
    I will dig deep into the family history cupboard, to find the photo.
    Then get back in touch as how to pass on for copying.(I live in Sth Auckland)
    I am still learning about this thing called a computer.
    Cheers Louisa

  11. FOUND, much easier than I thought. Must have had a more organised brain 25yrs ago
    It is named as the Crummer potteries, two elderly gentlemen, dressed in suits, without ties and collar, seating on a bench seat and a group of men of all ages standing around. Stack of pipes in background and a building.
    I will put my thinking head on and see if I can recall when it was taken.
    Alas it is only a laser copy and not a photograph as I thought not sure how lasers copy reprint. But you might be interested just to have a look.
    Now I really must put this aside and do some housework. lol. Know what I would prefer to do.
    Cheers Louisa.

  12. Still interested in seeing it. Email me at I don't have my own transport, but perhaps we could meet up somewhere. I have a fairly good digital camera. :)

  13. My name is kirk austin related to the austin side of austin kirk and co bricks

  14. Hello - I have an old brick made by W Neighbours Ch Ch - can you give any info re what to do with these historic bricks

    1. All I can suggest is -- find a museum that will take it in for you. We're lucky here in having a clayworks museum in New Lynn. Anything near you?

  15. Thank you for the interesting blog.
    I have "C Crum New Lyn" glazed inspection pipe with oval inspection hole and lid. Do you think it has any value? I live in Whangarei.
    Many thanks.

    1. Don't know, off hand. That sounds like something from the Portage Road works. Have a look around for some pottery and brickworks message boards, they may be able to give you an idea.

  16. my grandfather Edgar William Ward was a potter and brickmaker in Auckland and maybe Cambridge. Any records?

    1. Try the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the West Auckland Research Centre at Henderson Library.

  17. So why are there no bricks, field or roof tiles made in NZ? Now they are imported from all over the world and are rediculously expensive. We really seem to have lost the plot.

  18. Any information on Croome Park was this where the clay came from for the crumb bricks

    1. Do you mean Crum Park? That was used by the Crum works at Portage Road, so not for the early bricks.