The first paper faced wallboard machine was constructed and started operation at Balmoral Road, Mt Eden. This company in the early stages ran into many difficulties and was taken over by Winstone Ltd about 1928-29 and named the New Zealand Wallboards Ltd and there product named Gibraltar Board.
About this time our Fibrous Plaster industry underwent a complete change of activities. The change in design of houses from the Villa type of high studs and heavily enriched ceilings. The wall linings generally being rough timber lining with scrim and wallpaper. This Villa type gave way to the new Bungalow style with lowered stud heights, lower pitched roof and exposed beams.
These so called beams were no less than joists which could be 4”x3” dressed and because of their being exposed could be called beams which were spaced up to 4’ 0” centres each way. On top of these beams Fibrous Plaster sheets of plain or patterned surfaced were placed and left in many cases unpainted and without any support in the centres. The old scrim and paper and rough lining gave way to imported wallboard, and Fibrous Plaster.
The manufacture of these Fibrous Plaster products was fairly simple and brought a rapid increase in the number of firms operating in the industry with subsequent problems. Some of the firms to start in this period would be:
• Holmes Bros (Epsom)
• A Weggington (Onehunga)
• Penrose Plaster Co (Penrose)
• T Hunter (Harp of Erin)
• Blairney (Balmoral Road)
• Leman Bros (Balmoral Road)
• C Leman (Edendale Road)
• Berry & Son (Eden Crescent)
• Hall & Stanborough (Mt Eden
• Carlton (Pt Chevalier)
Also firms commenced in many of the provincial areas.
Plaster of Paris was imported right up until 1939-40. In the earlier period most of the plaster was imported from America, the best known being Hammer Brand and was packed in wooden barrels weighing approx. 3cwt. Large quantities were imported from England and Australia in later years. About 1936 Victor Plasters and Winstone Ltd built a plaster mill at Brigham Place on the Auckland waterfront. The manager of this mill was Mt T Speed who had been with Victor Plasters and Mr W Innes senior for many years.
In later years the capacity of this mill was increased considerably to serve the North Island. The reinforcement used in the earlier period of manufacture was New Zealand flax or tow. This fibre was an excellent material, its greatest drawback was the reddish stain which came through to finished faces of the products being dried out.
This staining was often a problem with the sheets which were used in the exposed beam type of ceilings. Eventually sisal fibre was imported from Indonesia, costing twice as much as the local flax.