Ted Bellingham and his two sons, Eric and Allan, earned a living in the 1920s and `30s by digging gum in the Mangawhai area and exporting it to Scotland for the manufacture of linoleum. In an effort to make the enterprise more efficient, the Bellingham's purchased a Ruston rope shovel excavator which had a dragline rig as an extra attachment.
The depression struck and the market for gum collapsed, so the Bellingham's took on roading contracts in Northland in order to keep their new excavator in work. One of the contracts that they were awarded was for the widening of a section of the main road south of Warkworth, known as Schedewayes. In the widening process they struck rock and in order to complete the contract they had to drill and blast the rock using a very arduous and soul-destroying method of hand drilling. This was their first introduction into quarrying.
At that time contract law was such that it was just hard luck if a roading contractor struck rock and they would not be compensated for the additional cost and work.The additional cost of drilling, blasting and excavating the rock caused this contract to run at a serious loss and it was only the thoughtfulness of the then Minister of Public Works who considered it to be grossly unfair for the Bellinghams to be disadvantaged in such a way that he wrote them out a cheque to offset their losses. They went on to do other roading contracts north of Waiwera and the rock excavation of Waiwera hill. Having become fairly experienced in the drilling and blasting of rock and familiar with the processing equipment needed for kauri gum extraction, it was a logical step for them to move into the production of agricultural lime and Eric established a lime quarry and crushing plant at Matakohe, near to where the family had settled at Maungaturoto. It was in 1937 the family company had entered into negotiations with the Kaitaia Dairy Company and they decided to go into the production of agricultural lime a few kilometres south of Kaitaia. Eric was chosen to manage the Northern operation, so Eric, his wife Jean, and their two children were bundled into a car and driven to Kaltala to establish a new life in the Far North, Matakohe to Kaitaia by road in those days was quite a trek.
The pulverising plant was set up with the assistance of Mr Don. Buckle, 3 well known engineer of Kaitata, and was powered by a large single cylinder diesel engine which ran on a very heavy fuel oil. This engine ran the primary crusher, pulveriser, elevators and screen. Provision was also made to drive. a large air compressor for rock drilling, but this had to be done out of pulverising hours during evenings and weekends because the large diesel didn't have enough power to drive all of the plant and the compressor at the same time. Rock was loaded by hand using quarry forks and shovels and spawls were lifted into steel buckets holding about a ton and winched up to the primary crushing platIonn for hand feeding into the primary crusber. All lime was supplied in bags and it was a good man that could bag five or six tons an hour. Disaster struck when the big diesel engine caught fire and spread to the whole limeworks. Nearly all of the plant had to be rebuilt and it was at this stage that Eric and Jean decided to pull away from the parent company and go it alone. The plant was rebuilt with electricity and production increased. in the mid 1980's at the request of farmers in that area, Bellinghams built a second agricultural crushing plant at Otangaroa, and have been servicing farmers in the surrounding areas since then.
From this Bellingham Quarries has grown through 3 generations. With its base quarry located in Larmer Road just south of Kaitaia, Bellingham Quarries Ltd operates and manages many quarries within the Far North District. We have well established and strong relationships with quarry site landowners, neighbours and customers. With a reputation for producing high quality aggregate Bellingham Quarries Ltd supplies all types of product used in the building, construction, roading and ready mix concrete industries.
Bellingham Quarries Ltd operate 10 quarries throughout the upper Far North District, including three limestone quarries at Fairburn, Otangaroa and Paranui, providing agricultural lime and crushed limestone. Seven bluestone quarries, supplying crushed products to NZTA, Far North District Council maintenance contractors, forestry, farmers and the general public. Brian and David Bellingham have continued to run the business since Don Bellingham retired, although Don still has a passion for anything and everything to do with quarries. Plant and machinery includes four fixed crushing plants at the three limeworks, and the main plant at Larmer Road just south of Kaitaia producing sealing chip, concrete metal and other specialised products. Three portable crushing plants help with some of the outlying sites with the addition of the Metso LT105 jaw, LT200HP cone locotracks, a Metso LT106 jaw, a 1011 Keestrack impact crusher and Sandvick 331 screen.