The Story of
William Winstone

Brave and adventurous, William Winstone chose not to become a farmer like his father, instead, in 1859 he set sail from London for a distant land on the 900-tonne heavily masted ship called the ‘Spray of the Ocean.’ 

The ship set a record on this voyage for the fastest passage from Great Britain to Auckland - only 86 days at sea. It bore the 16 year old William away from all that was familiar, carrying him towards Aotearoa, New Zealand, where he would make history, and help to build the new city he arrived in. 

Disembarking in Auckland in September with only 30 shillings in his pocket - and this shared with a shipmate - William Winstone fell back on the farming of his childhood, labouring at any job he could find. It would be 5 years before he had saved enough to buy a horse and cart of his own.


Building a dream and shaping a city.

William Winstone, a coal merchant and carrier,started selling coal along the waterfront from that horse and cart in 1864. Like William, migrants arrived, shaping the city and increasing the demand for his wares. Employees and more horses were needed as his business grew alongside the city that was now his home.

When gold was discovered in Coromandel, transport demands lead to opportunities for William. In 1867 he temporarily transferred his cartage plant and some horses to Thames. Two years later he would be joined by his younger brother George.

George had left home at 13 to work in his cousin’s store in Queensland. By 21, his experience in retail combined with William’s in transport,  formed W. and G. Winstone. 

Together they worked from 5am to 9 at night, to ensure prompt service. By the 1870s, selling firewood, coal and operating cartage, William secured the contract to demolish Point Britomart, adding quarrying and excavation to business operations. 

Brick and stone stables had to be built in 1882 to shelter all 200 horses. The days when a shared 30 shillings was all he had to his name was long behind William Winstone.

The Expansion of a Business and the Building of a Legacy

The business experienced rapid growth as the brothers’ company became one of the first to offer water-borne cartage, allowing them to transport coal for gasworks and dairy factories to ports outside Auckland. 

In the 20th century the company expanded retail outlets, and invested in the manufacture and importation of building products including plaster wallboard, bricks and tiles, updating equipment from agencies purchased and in 1914 developed a large supply yard in Nelson Street, selling cement, sand and shingle. Expansion included a metal quarry and scoria pit in Mount Eden which supplied the base for filling streets.

Aggregate and cement were supplied to build Auckland’s Grafton Bridge among other important New Zealand building projects shaping the country and creating a legacy. After a series of mergers and acquisitions the Winstone’s story was not without challenges. One of these was the worldwide stock market crash of  October 1987. Brierley, which had increased its shareholding in Winstones throughout the early 1980s was now overstretched, cash-strapped and vulnerable, it sold Winstone in 1988 to Winstone’s then rival, Fletcher Challenge for $444 million. Fletcher Challenge boss Hugh Fletcher said “combining operations will bring synergistic benefits, enabling the companies concerned to offer more efficient services to customers”.

Winstone Aggregates have shaped the New Zealand landscape, and its skyline. The Auckland Harbour Bridge and Sky Tower and Wellington’s Westpac Stadium and Railway Station are projects we have been involved in. We had a part in building the Newmarket Viaduct Bridge, Grafton bridge and the upgrade of Auckland Airport. 

Winstone Transport played a major role in removing the spoil from the Waterview tunnel as the boring machine, affectionately named Alice, made her way through the tunnel. We’ve supplied and shipped materials for roads both rural and for city motorways like state highway 20, the Waikato Expressway, Transmission Gully and the second stage of the Christchurch Southern Motorway, just to name a few.. 

After the tragedy of the Christchurch earthquake, aggregate from our Yaldhurst quarry helped to rebuild the city. 

Our Dry Creek quarry was used in the iconic Peter Jackson adaptation of Lord of the Rings. In The Two Towers it was both Helm’s Deep and Deepening Well, and was Minas Tirith in Return of the King. 

We are kiwi through and through and Aotearoa is built on Winstone Aggregates, we can’t wait to create the future.

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