Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Southdown Freezing Works

Who remembers this monstrous, smelly and economically important plant belonging to AFFCO in Penrose Auckland?

I worked there in the 1970's in the laboratory and the plant closed down in the early 1980's. It stood defunct until it was burnt down a few weeks ago. A ghostly rabbit warren of dangerous rooms, I'm sure the site is of more value now its buildings are gone.

A Selwyn College 7th form project group filmed a small documentary on the plant in 2008 but I don't know what happened to it, I was asked to participate.

But its history, its records, were of concern to me and I'm happy to report that the staff of Southdown the head office kept these safe. The records are, according to Bill Ralph, Company Secretary, who contracted John McCrystal to write the 2004 book  'A long season : the centennial history of AFFCO New Zealand', housed at the Hamilton Library. They include minute books, personal memoirs and photographs back to the early 1900's.

Bill says finding an archives that would take the records was a problem. Thanks Hamilton Library for your agreement to look after them.

I hope other industries big and small have had the same good sense!


  1. From Bill: Just to be accurate, it was not the staff at Southdown who kept records, it was various head office staff over the years.
    The Company of course had a number of meat plants and cool stores (still does) and accordingly the records are company wide.

    The more modern parts of Southdown, part of the coolstores, operated as Industrial Park Coolstores for a number of years after the 1980s, as well as various small industrial rentals. I went past there last week in a train,
    looks a mess now and will require a major clean up before the site would be of value to a developer.

    The history has a chapter on Southdown, originally called Glasgow .It was AFFCO's first meat plant.
    Thanks for the corrections.

  2. My late father George Ashburner was at Southdown from 1958 until he retired in 1976.
    George worked in the casing department he had a couple of mates there Ken,Laurie & Dave to name a few.I attended a training course at Southdown in 1986 which funnily enough was at the stockmans whare there.
    I do remember dad taking me over to Southdown after he retired when he used to visit his mates I was about 5 or six years old.

  3. Hi, My father worked at Southdown for many years as a Plumber/Sheetmetal worker and I would interested in some history to keep as a major part of his life and for him to look at now he is 83. I keep our family records/geneology and this would be invaluable. My father's name was Jim Moffat. Photos would be great if there are any.

  4. There's bound to be a photo of Jim down at Hamilton library. You'd better go and see.

  5. Hi,'

    My dad, Colin Puru worked at Southdown works right up to his death in 1975. I was 12 years old at the time and it appears he tragically died in a car accident on his way home from work, The driver of the other vehicle was also a Southdown employee.
    Would you have any of my father employee records, photo's that i could access?


  6. Does anybody know Tom Smith? He worked at Southdown Freezing Works until early January/February 1971. I am his daughter Ngawiki Cooper and would like any information on him.
    My mother is Margaret Ngaro Cooper.
    My mum's brothers in Auckland were Charlie & Rongo and mum's sister was Wiki Cooper
    Please contact me on

  7. I want to use Southdown as a location in my next short film, do you know who I can contact about this please?

  8. Does anyone know John Southgate in the 1950s? Contact me at

  9. oops should be

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