The only visual reminder of a once flourishing business
This area east of the
The Cave Lime Works, as it was commonly known, yet officially recognised as the ‘Timaru Lime Works’, was built during the early 1900s.
It began in a small way by carting raw limestone across the river by horse and dray from the base of the towering limestone cliffs to a small crushing plant.
The operation remained on a small scale until around 1935 when the then management was taken over by Mr Lahaney. Improvements began to take shape in the form of bucket conveyor system whereby continuously transporting raw material from the cliff face into the crushing plant.
Because of these improvements, the Works increased its volumes and the need for more labour was required. Management built men’s quarters and a small cookhouse to accommodate those single employees at the plant.
Even though this piece of history was rather dilapidated at the time of my visit I could still see most of what would have been considered comfortable during those years of operation.
This block appeared designed to accommodate six workers; each small room measured about two by two and a half metres and at one time had a pot-belly solid fuel heater in one corner of the small room.
Located at the northern end of the building the small kitchen was accessible to each room by a narrow veranda. The remains of a rusted coal range were still visible and the rusting remains of a solid fuel boiler, probably used in its day to heat water for showers and so on.
I can recall as a youngster during the 1940’s helping my dad when he drove a transport truck picking up those bags of lime from the works. Those were the days of when the bulk spreader was only in its infancy.
Again in 1950 when I travelled the Fairlie Flyer to high school in Timaru each day the train would stop to pick up wagons loaded with lime waiting on the rail siding, specially constructed for that purpose.
Unfortunately for Cave, this lime works, a major contributor to the population of the township closed down during the latter part of the 1950’s.