Monumental Masons were specialised stonemasons who not only shaped and built cemetery monuments from granite, marble and concrete but also chiselled inscriptions into the stonework. Some masons undertook to organise the burial site as well by arranging kerbings and wrought iron railings. Their work was very skilled.
Below are some examples of who they were as well as some early advertising.
Sculptors/Masons Listed by Wises (Dunedin) 1871
Crawford & Dick, Octagon
Munro, George, George Street
Palmer, Henry, Princes St South
Mr Henry Palmer
Monumental mason and sculptor of Princes St, Dunedin. This business was established in 1864 at premises near the Southern Cemetery. The yard was stocked with assorted monuments and gravestones from marble monuments to simple crosses and headstones. Material was imported from the marble quarries at Carrara and granite from Aberdeen.
Mr Palmer was born in Somersetshire, England and accompanied his parents to Australia in 1858. He came to New Zealand in 1862 and after two unprofitable years on the southern goldfields he started in business in Dunedin on the Princes Street site.
- Cyclopaedia of NZ, vol 4, Otago & Southland, 190
Thompson & Co.
Mr Thomas Thompson, the founder of the business was born in Perthshire, Scotland in 1839 and came to Dunedin in 1862 by the ship "Sevilla". Initially he was employed in the erection of the Exchange Building in Princes Street and afterwards in the building of First Church.
In 1874 Mr Thompson founded his own business and this enterprise was later managed by his two sons.
Mr Thompson was involved with the Mornington Road Board and was a member of the Caledonian Society. He died in 1887 leaving a widow and two sons.
The eldest son, Mr Robert Thompson, was born in Dunedin and educated at Mornington and High Street schools. He took over his father's business in 1887 and was joined by his brother James in 1901.
Robert Thompson looked after the manufacturing portion of the business, supervising the erection of numerous headstones and monuments which the firm supplied throughout the South Island. By 1905 Robert was married with two children.
- Cyclopaedia of NZ, vol 4, Otago & Southland, 1905
- Images courtesy of Trade Directories at the Hocken Library, Dunedin