Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

06 May 2010

Meldrum Baker, Usk Street, Oamaru

Oamaru, halfway down the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is famous for its limestone buildings. They are built, often in classical style, of Oamaru stone, a shortbread confection that comes out of its quarry soft and workable and then hardens after continuing exposure to the air.

Most Oamaru stone buildings are on the grand scale but in a side street, Usk Street, off the main highway is this precious little item: Mr Meldrum’s bakery.

Andrew Meldrum’s Oamaru business career started in 1879 and his bakery, shop, house, stables and other outhouses were clustered on a quarter acre plot. He was born in 1842 in Aberdeenshire and came to Oamaru via Port Chalmers (near Dunedin) in 1874.

He was a worthy citizen, involving himself in school management and church affairs and, having married Miss Davidson, also of Aberdeen, he fathered ten children by her some of whose descendents may still thrive in Oamaru today

But whatever else he left behind, his bakery, quite unlike any neighbouring buildings in Usk Street is a lasting gem.


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By Don Donovan