Edward Jollie - Reminisces 1841-1865

6. Christchurch: 1849-1851

On the 9th August at one o'clock in the morning we set sail again and without further adventure arrived safely at Port Cooper on the 12th.  On landing I was warmly welcomed by Thomas and slept the first night on the floor of his half finished house, which was the only house or fraction of a house then on the site of Lyttelton. (1)

 (1) After initially living in tents, by the 21st of July the erection of the prefabricated buildings had been completed. That day Walter Mantell sketched the results from the vicinity of where the 1876 Time Ball Station now stands. Captain Thomas’ first home is possibly the rear wing of the extant Grubb cottage in London Street.

At that time Lyttelton was in its native wildness with a tent or grass hut (or what was called a "V" hut) here and there. The population was composed of Thomas as chief, with Torlesse as assistant surveyor, and Cridland (1) as architect and about twenty or thirty labourers; old Crier (2) being store keeper.

Above: The last surviving V hut photographed shortly before demolition in 1912.

(1)  Henry John Cridland (1821-1867), a  Civil Engineer,  Surveyor and Land Agent in Wellington, was commissioned to prepare estimates for roads, buildings and other public works in the new settlement. For this purpose he shipped to Akaroa aboard HMS Acheron in February 1849.  Cridland was subsequently appointed Superintendent of Public Works.

(2)  Moses Cryer (1805-1895), The Canterbury Association's Store Keeper at Lyttelton from January 1850. Cryer was subsequently a Butcher of London Street in that township. In 1854 he took up the 5,000 acre Waterford Run, two thousand acres of which he sold to Edward Jollie and Edward Lee in 1861.

I got my things on shore on the 13th and took up my quarters with Torlesse and Cridland in a V hut near the beach. (1)  On the 16th I commenced the survey of the town of Lyttelton and on the 28th of September I finished it, or rather that part of it which Thomas required to be done.  It was afterwards extended at Mr. Godley's (2) request by including the more level land in Dampier's Bay and that along the shore towards the Officer's Point.

(1) Reflecting the prevailing social values of the time, the settlement was spread over three separate locations. The Blacksmith's shop and tradesmen's accommodation were situated to the near northeast of where the first wharf was built.  The three houses for the middle management staff, where Jollie lived, were erected 256 metres to the West on what would become Norwich Quay, next to what is now the Mitre Hotel site.

(2) John Robert Godley (1814-1861). The Canterbury Association's second Agent in New Zealand. A middle class snob, Godley privately referred to the lower orders at Lyttelton as “the cattle,” preferring the social life at Wellington.

"Several of the streets have been leveled, culverts made, many of the sections fenced, and altogether it has in six months been transformed from a desert to a very lively busy place, and begins to look like a colonial town."

Edward Jollie writing of Lyttelton on the 21st of January, 1850 to H. A. Aglionby.

On the 2nd of October I commenced the survey of a township at Sumner. This work occupied me until nearly the end of November.  It was afterwards abandoned as a township of the Association and thrown open for selection as rural land.  I then again went to Lyttelton and was employed making plans and doing what engineering work was required in joining the principal streets in Lyttelton.  I had also to lay off the gradient of the Sumner Road over the Port Hills by Evan's Pass ready for the work to be commenced by two or three hundred Māoris who were brought from Wellington to make this road.

At the end of the year I was sent by Thomas to the Plains to confer with Scroggs (1) upon the survey of the proposed capital of the settlement to be called the City of Christchurch. Scroggs and I had been fellow cadets at Wellington.  He had joined Thomas when surveyors were wanted and had been sent to survey the country where it was proposed that Christchurch should be laid out.  I found he had not commenced the actual survey of the town and after talking over the matter with him he expressed his intention of resigning his appointment and going to England and this he at once did. He eventually went into the Church of England and had a curacy in Devonshire under a brother of Sir Thomas Acland (2) and then another near Windsor. Thomas requested me to take his place.

(1) Sydney (or Sidney) Malet Scroggs, Canterbury Association Assistant Surveyor who had arrived with Jollie aboard the Brougham in 1842.

(2)  Sir Thomas Dyke Acland (1787-1871) 10th Baronet.  Father of John Barton Arundel Acland, 1856 Canterbury settler and Francis Jollie's neighbour at Peel Forest.

"I am at present surveying the town of Christchurch, which I hope to finish in about three months. It is situated in a beautiful agricultural district, with a fine stream, called the Avon, running through it, and navigable for boats as far as the lower end of the town... The water is very clear and cool... the banks vary in height from five to twenty feet, and this will be the height of the town above the river...
I have now been nearly eight years in New Zealand, and the longer I remain the less inclination I have to leave; there seems to be a spell which binds people to this country, for even when a person leaves, he is nearly sure to return again in a year or two...

I, certainly, have never yet been sorry that my lot was cast in New Zealand, but shall ever be grateful to you for the assistance you afforded me in obtaining my first appointment under the Company, and I trust that I shall always deserve your good opinion."
Edward Jollie writing at The Bricks on the 21st of January, 1850 to H. A. Aglionby.
Henry Aglionby Aglionby, M.P. (1790-1854) was a Director of the New Zealand Company

The survey of Christchurch was pleasant easy work. I lived in Scroggs' grass house at the Bricks (1) and the six men who were with me occupied a weather boarded house of one room about forty yards off. I worked hard all day and in the evening went eel fishing or pig hunting or quail or duck shooting in the neighbourhood. Quail were very plentiful at that time and I shot large numbers on the site of Christchurch. My nearest neighbours were Thomas Cass who had a house at Riccarton Bush, and the two Deans, William and John (2), who had sheep and cattle and a good house and garden at Riccarton.

(1) The fifteen by twelve feet survey hut (above centre) was situated on the north bank of the Avon River, the site of the Bricks is now the location of Christchurch’s Cambridge Terrace to the near west of the Barbados Street Bridge.

(2) In 1843 the Scottish Deans brothers had acquired an abandoned 1840 farm in what is now the suburb of Riccarton.

I soon had my proposed plan of the town ready for Thomas's inspection. He approved of it except one or two parts in which I had indulged in a little ornamentation such as Crescents etc., which Thomas pronounced "gingerbread" and I was not sorry to change this to something more practical, but he made one change which I have always regretted. I proposed that some of the streets should be wider than a chain for two reasons, one being that they might be planted with trees and the other that in case of fire breaking out the broad street might be the means of saving the whole town from being burnt by confining the fire to one block.

However he would not agree to it at that time, but afterward when the survey was nearly completed he gave me leave to widen one or two of the principal streets, if it could be done without much delaying the completion of the survey,  but this was then impossible. I had however managed to have two good wide streets on each side of the Avon which would act as lungs to the city and also prevent private drainage from being run into the river.

On the 18th of March, 1850 I finished the map of Christchurch and it was sent home to the Association, and on the 26th March I completed the survey.

The names of the streets of the three towns I surveyed were taken from Bishoprics and the way it was done was this; as soon as I  completed the map I took it to Thomas who putting on his gold spectacles and opening his would read out a Bishop's name to hear if it sounded well.  If I agreed with him that it did, I put the name to one of the streets requiring baptism.

Lyttelton being the first  born town got the best names for its streets, Sumner being next had the next best and Christchurch being the youngest had to be content with chiefly Irish and Colonial bishoprics as names for its streets.  This accounts for, what to anyone not knowing the circumstances, appears strange, viz: that many of the best English Bishoprics are not represented while Irish and Colonial ones are. Sumner in fact died too late for the names there used to be again employed in Christchurch.

Mr. Godley [Right] arrived in Lyttelton on the 12th April, 1850 and after a hurried visit to Riccarton he returned to Lyttelton, without visiting Christchurch.  Within a day or two he left for Wellington having expressed himself to Thomas in terms of dissatisfaction at what he considered too great an expenditure on some of the works, which Thomas had thought necessary to undertake prior to the arrival of the Settlers.

Godley was the originator of the scheme for the settlement and came out to take upon himself the agency of the Association in New Zealand, leaving Thomas his work to do as Chief Surveyor.  But being men of totally different feelings and temperament they very soon pulled different ways.  Soon after the arrival of the Canterbury Settlers or Pilgrims, as they were called, their differences ended in Thomas leaving Canterbury and Cass being appointed the Chief Surveyor.

My opinion is that Thomas was not altogether in his right mind, he had had so many losses from putting trust in other people's honesty that he had become suspicious of everyone. He was however a very honest and hard working administrator of affairs for the Association. He knew better than any other man I ever met, how to get work out of those under him.  I am sure that everything done in Canterbury under his orders and supervision was well and cheaply done.

Soon after Mr. Godley's arrival orders were given for the suspension of all expenditure in both surveys and public works, so that I along with others had to stop work. Hopes were however held out to us that in the Spring we should be again employed, so I remained in Lyttelton. Doctor Donald (1) and I keeping house together most of the Winter.  I occasionally took riding trips with Thomas to different parts of the Plains and as far as Motunau where Caverhill (2) was managing a sheep station for a Mr. Greenwood. (3)   I was also busy for a few weeks in making a connected plan of the several surveys, first of all having to reduce the large sheets to a small scale.

(1)  Dr William Donald (1815-1884), the Association's resident Medical Officer from November 1849.  The first Medical Practitioner in the Canterbury Settlement, the severely pockmarked Dr Donald, of Winchester Street, Lyttelton, was subsequently appointed Coroner, Hospital Medical Officer and Health Officer for the Port.  He was also Orphanage Superintendent, Politician, Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge, Resident Magistrate and a Justice of the Peace, etc.

(2)  John Scott Caverhill (b. 1821), one of the great characters of the early days and had a fine reputation as an over-lander in Australia before relocating to Canterbury. Having made several trips as Robert Waitt's agent in the Return, he joined Greenwood at Motunau and took over the station from him.

(3) James Greenwood, the three Greenwood brothers originally settled in 1843 at Purau on Lyttelton Harbour.  They sold to William and George Rhodes in May 1847, establishing a sheep and cattle station at Motunau near Cheviot  in the same year.

The suspension of work came to an end about the beginning of November 1850.  News arrived that the first colonists were very soon to leave England and that the Association had raised money for renewing their operations.  My work therefore began again in laying out roads and more sections in the town of Lyttelton, and Mr. Godley came back from Wellington to superintend matters.

I was in Lyttelton when the first two ships came into the harbour on the evening of 16th of December 1850, bringing the first batch of Pilgrims, and two more arrived a day or two afterwards. Everything now became bustle and excitement.  Tents and huts were being quickly put up and as the weather was fine the new people seemed to enjoy themselves as if they were at a picnic.

A week after the settlers arrived I went over the hills to Lyttelton to see Mr. Phillips who brought me a letter of introduction.  I asked him to accompany me back to the Bricks, which he did, but at the same time about a dozen other Pilgrims followed after us and when I got home I found them close behind us. Included among them were the Reverend Mr. Willock, (1) Dr. Barker, (2) Mr. Harman, (3) etc. I did my best for their accommodation and the next day they went back to Lyttelton not much the worse.

(1) William Wellington Willock, M.A. (1815-1882), was the first settler to erect a tent on Christchurch Common, later Market Place and Victoria Square from 1904. His subsequent appointments included Vicar of Kaiapoi, Archdeacon of Akaroa and a Canon of Christchurch Cathedral.

(2) Alfred Charles Barker (1819-1873) Medical Practitioner, Coroner and amateur photographer of Worcester Street West.  Described by Torlesse as a gossiping man.

(3) Richard James Strachan Harman (1826-1902) Civil Engineer.

At the beginning of 1851 the first selection of land was made in Christchurch and for a few months I was busy surveying the sections and putting the owners in possession.  About the beginning of August that year I left the service of the Association, my reason for doing so being that I, along with the other surveyors, received notice that our salaries would be considerably lowered.  This I could not stand especially as I considered myself independent as it was and thought that I might do better by sheep farming. I had bought a hundred and fifty sheep that year when Mr. Hunter Brown (1) bought a flock, with which to commence a run at Double Corner and he took mine for three years on thirds.

(1) Charles Hunter Brown, (died 1898) Politician and Farmer.  Brown established Springs Station at Double Corner in the Lower Waipara district.

On the 10th of October, 1851 I left Lyttelton in the barque Lady Nugent, arriving at Nelson on the 16th and again took up my quarters at Thackwood.