Feb 9, 2008

The Mystery of the Timaru Bottle Dump

The mystery of the bottle dump on the site of the original Timaru court building may have been solved, possibly proving it wasn't a case of court staff being fond of a drink or two.

Archaeologist Kiri Petersen has been checking out the Heaton Street site prior to work on a new courthouse beginning and located a pit containing hundreds of bottles dating back to the 1870s.

The site was probably that used by a bottling factory for five or six years in the 1870s-1880s, according to South Canterbury amateur historian Jeremy Sutherland who has researched the history of South Canterbury breweries and bottling companies.

He suspects Mrs Petersen had located an area where the bottling company dumped its broken or unusable bottles.

The Alton Brewery began production in 1873 on the site now occupied by the Countdown supermarket. It later became the New Zealand Breweries and operated through to the mid 1970s.

Mr Sutherland said it was possible the bottling company had bottled both beer from the neighbouring brewery as well as bottling aerated drinks.

He noted virtually all the torpedo shaped bottles recovered were damaged, which supported his view it was the dump of a commercial operation. The bottles could either have been broken by youngsters attempting to get the marble out, or the glass might have gone cloudy making it unsuitable to be reused.

Mr Sutherland said it was common for brewing and bottling companies to dump bottles on site. When the nearby brewery site was cleared 12 years ago, three old wells were located. Each had been filled in using bottles and other rubbish.

The Timaru Herald, Thursday, 07 February 2008

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