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AULSEBROOK & CO.'S BISCUIT FACTORY, N.Z. & CAMPERDOWN, SYDNEY

Two Australian advertising covers introduced this company in the early 1900s, but the company was started up in Christchurch in the 1860s (1863 in one reference, and 1868 in another), with later expansion to Auckland. However its origin was in Leicester, England where John Auslebrook was born ca. 1834. His parents were Henry George Aulsebrook and Jane Gillam who were bakers in High Cross Street in Leicester. Henry died in 1838, but his widow seemed to carry on the business, for her name was found in later trade directories still at the same address. John Aulsebrook migrated to New Zealand in 1859 where he started a biscuit factory at Christchurch.

The first cover was from Tasmania with the 1d ‘Pictorial’ canceled HOBART/ 3-PM 24 FE 06/ TASMANIA and it was addressed to Button Bros., Oatlands (Tasmania) and the reverse was not seen. The young coloured boy asks ‘Why am I Happy’ and answer ‘I Eat Aulsebrook’s Camille Cream Biscuits (Figure 1).

 

 

The second cover has a green ½d QV Stamp of N.S.W. has a private perfin canceled with CAMPERDOWN/ 22 SP 17 (--)P/ N.S.W and is addressed to a store in Cowra (N.S.W.). The cover has an official crest, over ‘By special Appointment to the First Governor-General of Australia’, followed by ‘Dear Sir, Kindly note that our representative Mr. J.L. Aulsebrook will have the pleasure of calling upon you on or about 27 th Inst. with Samples of our various Biscuits, including Three New Lines– SHREDDED WHEAT, RAWSON CREAMS, and MALTED MILK. Your orders shall receive our very best attention. Yours faithfully, AULSEBROOK & SONS LTD., Biscuit Manufacturers, Camperdown, Sydney.’ (Figure 2).

The reverse shows an example of eight different Aulsebrook’s biscuits, but the three lines mentioned on the front were not included (Figure 3).

It should be mentioned here that Figure 2 gives information of some import, for Lord Hopetoun, Australia’s first Governor General was only in this position from January 1, 1901 until July 1902 when he resigned and left for England. The second point is that the company at Camperdown, N.S.W. is shown as AULSEBROOK & SONS LTD, and the J.L. Aulsebrook who was going to call on the addressee was a son, John junior.

One reference states that Aulsebrook’s bakery was established by John senior, on Colombo Street, Christchurch in 1863 and in 1879 the father of Robert McDougall bought in as partner. A new factory was built at the corner of Montreal and St Asaph Streets. After 2 years the partnership was terminated but in 1883 Aulsebrook approached McDougall again. The father, W.W. McDougall declined further involvement, but bought an interest for his son. Until 1889, when John Aulsebrook senior moved to Sydney and sold out to Robert, Robert had managed Lane’s Flour Mill, a good preparation for his association with Aulsebrooks. I was surprised that my research of the Camperdown firm was remarkably unrewarding, in spite of the fact that the firm advertised and sold their biscuits Australia-wide. I have uncertain information that the firm was sold to the better known, Arnott’s biscuits, in Australia.

I lost contact with John senior, until his short death notice showed that he returned to New Zealand, for the notice read: John Aulsebrook died at "Ashgrove’ Ponsonby, Auckland on 11 December 1906. He was late of Christchurch in his 72nd year.

The original factory, which was established in Colombo-street in 1868 at Christchurch, New Zealand, is now situated at the corner of St. Asaph and Montreal streets, and covers an acre of ground. The building is a plain, substantial two-storey one, of red brick with stone facings. Passing through the offices the visitor enters a large, lofty room, where the principal part of the work of making biscuits and cakes is progressing. Commencing at the first process we notice a huge "mixer," in which half a ton of flour for biscuits is thoroughly mixed in a quarter of an hour. The dough is then run through steel rollers, cut into strips, and passed on to a self-feeding and delivering biscuit cutter, where it is cut into biscuits., and they are then ready for the oven. The trays, with the biscuits on them, are passed into a travelling oven, 30 feet long. By the time they have passed through the oven—the heat of which is regulated to a nicety by twelve dampers—the biscuits are baked and ready for sale. The process from first to last is so rapid that half a ton of flour can be converted into biscuits, ready to be packed up for sale, in about two hours and a half.

Besides the machinery and ovens for the manufacture of biscuits, there is all the necessary plant for making cakes, fancy biscuits, gingerbread, &c. There is a cake mixing machine for mixing materials for 100 lbs. of cake at a time, and two ovens for baking cakes, each of them 7 feet by 7 feet; a machine for making gingerbread nuts;. a sugar mill, in which the white sugar used in the manufactory is ground as fine and soft as flour; a machine for making cracknells, and another for making "African Shoots," or Queens. The goods are sent all over the colonyof N.Z., and to Australia. The tins in which the biscuits are packed up are made in Christchurch.. At the commencement of the season the firm requires 10,000 dozen eggs (which are preserved in lime) and 800 kegs of butter.

In 1906, Aulsebrook & Co, had an advertising stand for Biscuits, Chocolates and Sweets at the New Zealand Exhibition in Christchurch, and I have no date for their expansion into confectionaries. The stand, and a more modern brand of chocolate (in decimal currency) are shown in Figures 4 & 5.

The Christchurch Star advertised in 7 August 1963 a book entitled ‘The Aulsebrook Story 1863-1963' so that 1963 might have been ‘The Last Hurrah’ for the New Zealand company.

Addendum (August 2009):  The probable move back to New Zealand ocurred ca. 1900 for John senior had a home built for him in Auckland in 1900.  There is doubt as to the date of his death for another reference stated  John Aulsebrook died in Auckland on 11 December 1905, aged 71 years and was buried in Waikaraka cemetery, Auckland.  He may have married a Mary Ann Goodman in 1876.

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