Milton is located on the Tokomairiro River, near the centre of the Tokomairiro Plain. The Dunedin-Invercargill highway and railway pass through the borough. By road Milton is 36 miles south-west of Dunedin and 17 miles north-east of Balclutha.
Milton is a trade and servicing centre for a fertile farming area where sheep raising, dairying, and mixed cropping are practised. There is a large woollen mill in the town and the manufacture of woollen goods is the main industry. Other industrial activities include bacon curing, cheese making, and the production of sawn and dressed timber. Limestone is quarried at Milburn, 3 miles north of Milton, and lignite pits are worked in the vicinity.
In 1856 James Elder Brown and his father settled on 105 acres in the vicinity of the present town. Adjoining land had been taken by Peter McGill for a flourmill, this being built in 1857 with the assistance of the Browns. In 1860 W. H. Mansford purchased half an acre of land from the Browns as a site for a general store, and McGill cut up 25 acres of his property for town lots. Milltown, so named because of the flourmill, thus came into being. The name was afterwards shortened to Milton and, in keeping, many of the streets were named after poets. Borough status was accorded in 1866.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 1,672; 1956 census, 1,904; 1961 census, 1,922.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.