History of CAC Bar & Eatery

Our building was part of an extensive industrial complex in suburban Mt Eden established by the Colonial Ammunition Company (C.A.C.) in the mid 1880s as the earliest munitions factory in Australasia.

The C.A.C. had been partly founded in response to a feared Russian invasion of New Zealand. Producing mainly military ammunition, its early manufacture of shotgun cartridges at Mt Eden was small-scale using shot made in the South Island.

The site boasts the only twentieth-century shot tower in Australasia, a rare example internationally to have been built using steel-framed construction. Erected about 1916, the tower was designed to manufacture lead shot for shotgun cartridges for sport and hunting. The company set out to compete with British-made imports that supplied most of the 9 million shotgun cartridges used annually in New Zealand.

Approximately 35 m high, the tower consists of a polygonal room clad in corrugated iron, supported on a steel frame. The structure was built by local blacksmiths, W. Wilson and Company and initially operated by a Mr Lylie and his two daughters. Shot was made by passing molten lead through a sieve at the top of the tower, which solidified as it fell into a water-filled pit in a room at its base.

The shot was then polished, graded and stored in buildings tower, altered as aspects of shot production progressed, until the C.A.C/ vacated the site in the 1980s.

The buildings at its base were demolished in 2001, although the tower remains after a popular outcry to save it.