From its beginnings as a one-man carrying business, a partnership of two brothers working as coal merchants and carriers began trading as W. and G. Winstone in 1869. In 1904 that firm's business and assets were transferred to a limited liability company registered as Winstone Ltd. The company was run by an appointed board whose majority of directors were members of the Winstone family.
In the early years of the twentieth century Winstone began expanding the building material supply area of its business in two directions. Firstly, the company increased its merchandising activities, expanding its retail outlets - including the 1914 development of a large Auckland waterfront supply yard in Nelson Street, which sold cement, sand and shingle, along with several suburban firewood and coal outlets and acquiring agencies for manufactured products. Secondly, it started investing in the manufacture of building products. Winstone Ltd acquired the agency for bricks produced at Gardner Brothers and Parker's works at New Lynn, Auckland.
In 1913 the company added the agency for Cafferata Plaster, which led to the importation and later still to the manufacturing of plaster wallboard. Winstone also purchased a half-interest in O'Reilly Brothers' tile factory at Taumarunui; once it had acquired full ownership of the business in 1920, it installed up-to-date equipment for the production of Marseilles tiles, at the time the most popular roofing material, and also manufactured bricks.
Continuing its interest in building materials, in 1928 Winstone Ltd had became a minority shareholder in the newly established N.Z. Winstone Ltd bought out other shareholders of N.Z. Wallboards Ltd, which had begun manufacturing the plaster wallboard known as Gibraltar board (or gib board) in Balmoral Road, Mount Eden in 1927.Winstone Ltd bought out over shareholders of N.Z. Wallboards Ltd, which had begun manufacturing the plaster wallboard known as Gibraltar board (or gib board) in Balmoral Road, Mount Eden in 1927.
Three Kings Quarry.
In the 1950s and 1960s the company began to build up its chain of branch offices and merchandising outlets in earnest, and to acquire a number of subsidiary and associate companies throughout the regions. Winstone Ltd had opened an office and store in Hamilton in 1938, and in the early 1960s it established a block-making plant on a 22-acre site at Te Rapa next door to a new 12,000 square foot store. The company also acquired as a subsidiary the long-established Tauwhare Metal Supplies Ltd's greywacke quarry just out of Hamilton, which was main source of Winstone's supply of aggregate to Hamilton customers, and of aggregate for the block-making and pre-mixed concrete facilities at Te Rapa.
In Tauranga, an office was opened in 1953, followed by a yard and store in 1960. Within a few years Winstone had also acquired interests in a nearby quarry and in a company manufacturing premixed concrete. There was expansion too into the Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay, and in 1962 Winstone acquired the Napier firm C.H. Cranby and Co Ltd, creating the subsidiary Winstone Cranby Ltd.
In 1964, Winstone Ltd listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. It continued to expand from its earlier activities of quarrying and the manufacture of tiles and Gibraltar (gib) board into a wider range of products. In addition to these products there were more than 20 subsidiary companies located throughout New Zealand producing, distributing and installing pre-mixed concrete, concrete masonry, pipes, refractory bricks, glass, plastic pipes and fittings, roll-formed metal, and wall cladding materials. As well, the company was a major player in the laying of roads. A London office had been opened in 1949 and company operations were later established in Australia and Hong Kong.
In the 1970s Winstone Ltd made an ill-judged foray into the forestry industry, entering a joint venture with a Korean company to build and operate a pulp mill at Karioi. Although its non-pulp activities continued to make good profits (particularly its gib board monopoly), the dismal performance of this capital-intensive investment left Winstone Ltd vulnerable to corporate raiders.
In 1984 Brierley Investments Ltd took control of the company, which, in 1988, was on-sold to Fletcher Challenge, its major competitor. The 124-year-old company of Winstone Ltd, which included a number of subsidiary companies, was subsequently assimilated into the Fletcher Challenge business.
Winstone Sandliner in the 1960s.