This is a brush made by the New Zealand Brush Co Ltd: the story of their 200 year heritage is told here


15th June 1791 saw the baptism of John Broad in Salisbury, Wiltshire, the son of Edward and Lucy Broad, and grandson of John after whom he seems to have been named. John was still alive in 1861 and was recorded as a brushmaker; whether he started the family tradition of making brushes is not known - it may be that he drew on family skills.. He did not stay at home, but married Charlotte Carter of Kettering, Northamptonshire in about 1806 or 7, and went to live in her town His actual birth date does not seem to have been recorded, but the census suggests it was about 1781.

Kettering in Northamptonshire was known for weaving, shoe making and brushmaking. John Broad and Charlotte had two sons at the time who followed John in the trade and provided the foundation for a business which has lasted until the present day, most of it in the Broad family and in Dunedin, New Zealand.

George John Broad (born 1807) was the elder and he moved to the small town of Diss on the borders of Suffolk and Norfolk along with at least one of his brothers, Charles. [Another brother, Henry also moved to East Anglia, ending up in Ipswich as a maker of baking and egg powders] There was only one other brushmaker, a Mr Aldridge, and all three of them lived in Half Moon Lane, Diss. Perhaps business prospered, but all that is certain is that George remained in Diss for the rest of his life although in later years he lived at 28 Crown Street. George had a son Allan, who on 4th May 1860 went to Sydney, Australia on the barque "Wansfell", but continued on a ship called "Thane of Fife" to Dunedin. He set up as a draper, largely in Timaru, a nearby town, finally moving to Dunedin but clearly provided the stimulus for Alfred and his brother Arthur to emigrate to Dunedin in 1879 and probably provided or arranged accommodation and support for them

The younger brother, Charles was born in 1820. He was apprenticed to a brushmaker (which one is not clear) in Diss and married twice, first to Rebecca Cobb, the daughter of a wheelwright in 1844 and in 1850 to Ann Butcher from Brome, a village not far from Diss. His first child, Charles was born in Braintree in Essex in 1846;. at some time after this he moved back to Diss, in Norfolk, probably following the death of Rebecca, where Charles and Ann's son, Alfred Carter Broad was born on 28th June 1851, followed by three more children in Diss. Another move to Eye (only about four miles away) again working as a brushmaker, he and Ann had six more children. The family seems to have had a rather unsettled life for the times.

Meanwhile his son John Broad, born 1855 in Eye had become a general dealer and set up shop in Bury St Edmunds, and before 1881 the family moved there, living a few yards apart from the shop, and using part of the premises at the rear for brushmaking. Alfred Carter, always known as AC, married Martha Osborne in Thetford on 12th December 1876 and in 1879, having had two children emigrated to New Zealand on board the "Coromandel" together with Martha's sister, Elizabeth Ellen who is thought to have shared their cabin.

On the same vessel was Moses Brown, travelling steerage, and he and Elizabeth Ellen met and subsequently married, leading to another interesting story of successful gold digging in Otago. Some time prior to this AC's younger brother Arthur, also a brushmaker, had emigrated to Dunedin and he joined the firm when it was set up. (There is doubt as to exactly when he emigrated: the family thinks after 1880, but his death record suggests 1877)

Broad's Brush Works

(This section based on an account by the late Leonard Frank Broad)

AC however, having married Martha Osborne and started a family, decided to do what he knew best - brushmaking, working at first under his own name in a small two room shed-cum-stable in Cumberland Street, Dunedin. Before he left, he had arranged for a shipment of tools, brush fibres etc to be sent from Britain, and this shipment was lost, but because he had anticipated the possibility and had made the necessary arrangements, was replaced immediately. As soon as the materials arrived production started with a staff of two.

Within three years the firm had grown to the point where new premises were essential, and in 1885 a new factory was built in St Andrew Street, Dunedin. The family (it grew to eight children by 1908) lived above the works - the top three windows were their home until 1894 when AC had the family home, "Willard" built in "Cosy Dell" Dunedin.

This enabled expansion of the factory into the upper floor and into additional areas of the yard, and work proceeded apace, with brushes being supplied not only to the Dunedin area but all over New Zealand..

AC then visited England and the USA, purchased and returned with some of the latest automatic brushmaking machinery, these being erected in the freed-up yard areas. The machines were complicated and advanced for the time, so AC decided to send his son Lawson to the Ox Fibre Brush Co in Frederick, Maryland, USA where the machines had been made, for an intensive study of their maintenance and repair. This proved to be a most successful trip, and as the result of a more effective use of the machinery and the greater productivity, more factory space became essential. A local newspaper reported:

"Going Back to New Zealand.
Mr. Lawson Broad, of Dunedin, New Zealand, who has been in this city for a little over a year, has returned to his home in New Zealand. During his stay here, he has been at the Ox-Fibre Brush Works, where be has familiarized himself with the operation and various aspects of brush-making in order that he may be of assistance in the operation of the brush works run by his father in New Zealand. Mr. Broad will purchase some, machinery. He will then go to England, where he will spend some time with relatives, and then will return to New Zealand alone. During his stay here Mr. Broad made many friends or acquaintances who hope that his visit here has been a profitable and pleasant one."

Around 1908 the old "Albion Soap" factory in King Street [later Great King Street] and Cumberland Street was purchased, providing half an acre for expansion, which proved adequate until 1941 when a further half acre area was purchased. This land contained 18 cottages, possibly a record in New Zealand for population density!

In 1880 the output consisted of three types each of floor and yard brooms, banister brushes and scrubbing brushes, but over the years many hundreds of different types of brooms, brushes and mops for both home and industry were produced, as well as many special types of brushware required by other firms, for processing their various products whether foodstuffs, clothing or other output. The photo taken in 1889 below shows, left to right, J Brodie, H G Williams (later to be the manager of the firm), Arthur Broad and C Crolly, all workers at the factory

In 1897 AC retired and the firm became the Otago Brush Company, Ltd.

The Otago Brush Co. Ltd

Mr Harry Williams followed in AC's footsteps in 1917, succeeded by Joe Fowell, whose background was the building of steam traction engines in England and had been working a gold dredge in Otago, as well as being involved in the building of the TSS Earnslaw, a steam vessel still operating out of Queenstown. He was descended from the Osborn(e) family of Martha, AC's wife, as indeed is the author. He departed to farm in North Island aftertweve years at the helm and was succeeded by Mr Harold Palmer for a year and then by Leonard Frank Broad who had worked for 25 years in the factory before spending 21 years as manager. He was followed by Mr S Taylor who managed the firm from 1957 to 1973.

Lawson and Leonardxxxxxxxx

The Otago Brush Co Ltd began an association with a Christchurch firm, Bunting and Company in 1927, (they had factories in Fiji as well as Christchurch and Auckland) but continued to trade separately until 1961 when it was decided to sell all brushes under the Bunting name, and after a few years the directors decided to rationalise by relocating both the Dunedin and the Christchurch factories in Auckland, resulting in the closure of the Dunedin factory in December 1973.

The move was clearly inadvised, and the anticipated benefts of moving to North Island did not materialise, leaving the firm exposed to a corporate trader: the business was asset - stripped and ceased to exist... or did it? The pheonix arose from the ashes!

The New Zealand Brush Co., Ltd.

Four of the senior members of the Dunedin staff who became redundant in 1973 formed a new company in 1974 known as the New Zealand Brush Company Ltd. With considerable business acumen, being aware of the competitive nature of general brushware, they decided to specialise in the niche market of industrial and commercial brushes.

1996 saw the retirement of the last two remaining partners, William Dore and Cliff McAuley, who sold out to a group of Dunedin businessmen, thus retaining Dunedin ownership of the New Zealand Brush Company limited, now a highly successful firm based at 4 Otaki Street; nearly two hundred years after the birth of Charles Broad in Kettering, his inherited skills have remained, providing employment for the people of Dunedin and brushes for industry and commerce throughout New Zealand.

Ross Hammond, the manager of the New Zealand Brush Co Ltd. writes to me
"Myself and three others ( Ian McPherson, Charlie Leith and Bruce McPherson) purchased the Company from Mr Bill Dore and Mr Cliff McAuley on the 1st of May 1996.

Mr Dore stayed on for eight months to help us with the business and also there were four permanent staff, three of which had fifteen to twenty years experience each.

Mr Leith managed the company from 1996 to March 2003 when he moved to Nelson. Mrs Jenny McPherson was the new office manager and Ross Hammond the new Production manager. In 2004 Mr Brett Turner (a long serving employee) purchased a small amount of shares also.The company has continued to make most kinds of general brushware and also a lot for the roading industry. Due to the growth of the business and also the purchase of a new machine it was decided to move to larger premises in November 2005."

Today they have added household brushes to their repertoire and have thus returned to AC's original concept.

And what would Charles Broad have thought of the New Zealand Brush Company"s website at ?

Many thanks to Michael Broad who supplied almost all the material for this page, as well as to Ross Hammond.

Return to the Broad family history branch here

Richard Green 2006