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Report - - Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd., Milton (NZ) - May 2017 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd., Milton (NZ) - May 2017



WildBoyz

Is this the future?
Regular User
#1
History

Believe it or not, bacon has been an important part of human history since at least the twelfth century, when it was offered as a reward to married men who could go a year and a day without arguing with their wives. The term originally derived from the Middle English word ‘bacoun’, which was used to refer to all forms of pork. Across the United Kingdom, any man that brought home the bacon became well respected in his community. It is no surprise, therefore, that bacon remained a popular food among colonialist settlers in New Zealand. They brought the tradition with them and this resulted in the establishment of the Kiwi Bacon Factory in Milton.

Milton very quickly became an important farming and industrial town in New Zealand. It was originally a small settlement in the 1850s, but it grew rapidly due to its geographic location that placed it on the route to several thriving goldfields. However, following the First World War the town struggled to survive. First, the significant loss of manpower had a detrimental impact on the productivity capabilities of the townspeople, and, second, the goldrush years came to an abrupt end. Eventually, only a large woollen mill (Bruce Woollen Mills) and the bacon factory (Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd.) kept the town going through the 1900s. Both factories were the town’s main employers.

Throughout the 1900s Kiwi Bacon went on to become one of New Zealand’s most prominent industries, with factories based in Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Milton. On its website, Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd. suggests that the brand has been serving New Zealanders since 1932 but that the Milton factory existed long before this. It was William Henry Hitchon (1872-1957) who started the bacon factory in Milton, which later became known as Hitchon Brothers Bacon Ltd. It is reported that at least two generations of their family worked there before it was purchased by Kiwi Bacon Ltd. However, although Kiwi Bacon is now a nationwide brand, the Milton site was closed in the early 1980s due to its isolated location and the diminishing scale of the town.

Despite the closure of the factory, the bacon tradition in Milton was, in a way, temporarily revived in 2008 when a local collector named Rex Spence decided to open the Milton Butchery Museum. While it lasted, the museum was New Zealand’s largest collection of antique cleavers, chopping blocks, photos and many other meat-related things. Apparently, it also featured the country’s most famous sausage maker. For a while, the museum was a popular tourist destination, especially among elderly ladies who had been the ones who used to visit the local butcher, and it became a place of nostalgic reminiscence. Some of the women recalled many of the classic jokes the butchers would have for them, and one women in her 80s retold her story of one butcher asking her if she wanted to hop inside the chiller. She said, “I thought he wanted to have sex with me, but as soon as I got in there he shut me in and stayed in the shop!” Nonetheless, despite its initial success it seems that interest in Milton’s Butchery Museum dwindled, to the extent that it was no long viable to keep open. As things stand today, then, Milton’s famous bacon and butchery past has been cleaved.

Our Version of Events

With the turn of a new month, we decided it was time for a new exploring trip. This time, though, we wanted to hit New Zealand’s South Island and see what treats it had in store for us. So, after a very late departure from Dunedin, we set off in the direction of Milton. There’s nothing much in Milton these days, as the history above hinted, but two things on the internet did capture our attention: an old bacon factory. Having never been inside a dedicated bacon factory before, it seemed like a potentially interesting explore. Besides, aside from Vegans, Veggies, Pesco-vegetarians, Pollo-Vegetarians, Flexitarians, Cannibal-vegetarians, Lacto-ovo vegetarians, Fruitarians, Raw/Living Foodists, Muslims, some Hindus and Jewish folk, who doesn’t like a bit of bacon?

We rolled into Milton in the dead of night, in a very large and conspicuous minibus. We had requested something smaller, like a pigup truck, but they didn’t have any left apparently. The bus was a bit excessive for the three of us, but the upside was that it was roomy and ours for free for a few days. Fortunately, given the size of the vehicle, Milton was exactly like a ghost town, with no cars on the roads or pedestrians on the footpaths, so our bus didn’t attract too much attention. The only life in the small town seemed to be two guys outside the wool mill having a smoke, and a barking dog somewhere in a garden behind us. We spent a good fifteen minutes or so sneaking around in the bushes around the back, trying to find a way inside the factory, but our efforts were in vain… Until, we eventually found an unlikely way of getting inside.

Several minutes later, after a bit of breathing in and dodging an old bees nest filled with decaying bee corpses, we were in! Our first glances inside the building revealed that it clearly hadn’t been visited in quite a while. There was a lot of mould covering the floors and furniture, and water had managed to get in through the roof as there were many photogenic green stains on the walls. From the first damp room, we proceeded to tiptoe our way around the building, trying hard to not alert the smokers outside to our presence. This is where torches with high lumen outputs aren’t such an advantage anymore. Of course, as with anyone trying to be stealthy without an adequate light source (we chose not to turn the torches on for a while), we managed to walk over everything that made a significant amount of sound: glass, metal, plastic bags. How the guys outside didn’t hear us we’ll never know. Or maybe they did and just didn’t give a shit?

In terms of the explore itself, then, we found that even though it was filled with a large amount of utter shite, it still resembled how we imagined a bacon factory would look. There were large storage areas, chillers and strange tiled rooms. In particular, one room that caught our interest had a large tiled L-shaped bath inside it. It reminded us of something you’d find in a horror film styled abattoir. Even now, since all of us are a bit rusty when it comes to knowledge about butchery equipment, we can’t tell you what it was used for. Aside from the bath, the other interesting things we stumbled across were the old records books, a sizable ‘bacon cauldron’ (our interpretation) and a chat up line: ‘Do you like bacon? Wanna strip?’… Classic.

After the bacon banter, it was time to leave. We’d run out of things to look at. The largest room in the building was crammed full of old equipment and most of it wasn’t even butchery-related. Getting out was a lot easier than getting in, and by the time we were back on the street the guys who had been smoking and the sound of the barking dog were long gone. Milton was back to being a ghost town. With that in mind, we decided to take advantage of the silent night and have a quick wander over to the old wool mill nearby to do a bit of investigating and find out whether or not part of it was abandoned. The answer to that question, however, will have to wait. In the meantime, we leave you with some more bacon banter: What do aerobics instructors and people who process bacon have in common? They both tear hams into shreds.

Explored with Nillskill and Bane.

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