William Derisley Wood (25) trained as a miller at his father’s mill at Great Blakenham, and joined the Canterbury Association. William worked at first as secretary to John Robert Godley. He had a town acre in Peterborough Street, and took up the Sand Hills station with William Chisnall (Chisnalwood), on the coast between the Styx and the Estuary.They sold in 1854 and took up sheep farming in the Rakaia Gorge, on leasehold land. He returned to England, bringing back the machinery for a windmill, and a bride − Anna Maria Wilson, sister-in-law of William Chisnall. They set up a mill and built a cottage called the Mill House in Riccarton. He had 13 acres where Mona Vale now is.
He and his brother diverted a branch of the Waihi River near Winchester and set up a mill there, which was later sold to Daniel Inwood. For a time he had a merchant’s business exporting grain and flour. In 1882 he bought Swyncombe, a large property south of Kaikoura.
He had eight children.
William Deerisley Wood was born on 17 December 1824 in Great Blakenham, Suffolk where his father was a miller, and he learnt the milling trade there.
On arrival in New Zealand he purchased his allotted land in Peterborough Street but lived in Manchester Street, Christchurch and became Secretary to John Robert Godley of the Colonists' Association. After two years he and William Chisnall took up the lease of the Sandhills Run which stretched along the coast from the Styx River to the Estuary where they had a dairy farm and provided Christchurch with milk. The Shirley Golf Course was later established on this land and many members of the family were prominent golfers. The Chisnallwood Intermediate School was also established on the land many years later, honouring the early settlers of the land. They sold the Sandhills Run after two years and farmed for a short time at Mt Snowdon in the Rakaia Gorge, but found it too far from town, there being no transport at that time except a horse.
Hearing that his brother (a surgeon in the Navy) was in Sydney he set off to meet thim, but Charles had already sailed, so WDW continued on to England. While visiting his father he realised that there could be a future in flour milling in Canterbury and purchased a prefabricated Mill building from Whitmore & Binyon. The parts came in two ships and he assembled it himself on land in Antigua Street on the site now occupied by the brewery, and the first flour was produced on 18 August 1856. Once assembled it was widely used as a guide to travellers as the sails could be seen many miles away. The business was successful and outgrew the windmill's capacity. He then leased land from the Deans on land now part of Mona Vale and Christchurch Girls' High School, and built the new water driven mill and a home he called the Mill House to accommodate his growing family. A loop in the river at that point allowed him to build the diversion channel and weir which exist today, to provide the water power for the Mill from 1862 until 1891 when again success led him to build an electrically drived Mill in Addington. The building is still standing as a landmark today but is no longer functional as a Mill.
Suffolk he had visited the family of his friend William Chisnall's wife in Hadleigh and met and married their y oungest daughter Anna Maria Wilson after a very short courtship. They had seven sons and a daughter, of whom six of the sons were involved with the Mills and with the farming of Swyncombe, a large property south of Kaikoura which WDW purchased in 1882.
WDW had other interests too, one brother Henry, and he diverted a branch of the Waihi River near Temuka, and a Mill was operated there by their eldest brother Robert who had emigrated in 1867 with his wife and eleven children, he was later instrumental in raising money for the building of the Church of England Church in Temuka, and for a short time he was editor of the Evening Telegraph.
WDW was a keen chess player and was Chairman of the Christchurch Chess Club founded in 1866, he also served as a Christchurch City Councillor from 1875, was a member of the Mechanics Institute and served on the North Canterbury Hospital Board, at one time being Chairman. He was for many years a member of the Chamber of Commerce and was interested at all times in the welfare of Canterbury. He served as a member of the Kaikoura County Council for several years and represented the Kaikoura and Amuri Districts on the North Canterbury Hospital Board and Charitable Aid Board. He owned or leased several properties in Christchurch.
For a time he had a merchant's business with Peter Cunningham, realising there were prospects for exporting grain and flour. They were merchants and shippers for a time and had a big warehouse in Lyttelton. His son Henry later took over that business. On 10 December 1901, in his capacity as president of the Chamber of Commerce, he atended a dinner at Warner's Hotel for Captain Robert Falcon Scott and the crew of the Discovery before they left for the South Pole.
He died on 30 September 1904 aged eighty, a week after a fall from his horse, and is buries in the Linwood Cemetery.
Newspaper item relating to deceased persons estate of 1000 pounds and over from February 1905 mentions William's amounting to 87,185 pounds
Star Newspaper; 25 March 1905; page 5; column one
I took a photo of his grave last weekend. Accessible below.