The Early Days Of Canterbury: 8. Place Names and Early Settlers

CHRISTCHURCH,  2009

88

CHAPTER 8

 

Place Names and Early Settlers 

In place names, it is rather interesting to learn that "Gladstone" was the name given to Kaiapoi by the Canterbury Association in London. Halswell was so named after Edmund Halswell, Commissioner of Native Reserves in very early days. Whately Road, afterwards; changed to Victoria Street, in connection with the jubilee of our Queen in 1887, was named after Archbishop Whately, of Dublin. 

Spreydon was the name of the farm owned by Dr. Moore in that part of the new settlement. Weedons was called after Charles James Weedon, an auctioneer from Tasmania. Heathcote was named after Sir William Heathcote, and Mandeville after the son of the Duke of Manchester, Harewood after the Earl of Harewood and Lincoln after the Earl of Lincoln. 

Mount Herbert was so named in token of respect of the Rt. Hon. Sidney Herbert, and Sefton after William Sefton Moorhouse. Ashley was named after the great Lord Shaftesbury, Ashley being his family name. 

In old plans of Christchurch, the right bank of the Avon from Victoria Street bridge round to Colombo Street bridge was called Waterloo Terrace.

Papanui Bush in the fifties, provided a large proportion of the timber used by our local carpenters, and this village was for years a busy

89

and flourishing neighbourhood. Many of the shingle roofs of those days came from timber felled at Papanui.

 

Frederick Haskins, who for many years was Town Clerk to Christchurch City Council, kept the store and post office (the premises are still in evidence at the corner of Sawyers Arms Road) and Harry Roil was "mine host" of the Sawyers Arms hotel. William Meddings was village blacksmith, and later succeeded in obtaining a license for a primitive hostelry which he called The Papanui Hotel. Jack Highsted used to come in through the mud with firewood drawn by a team of bullocks. Jennings was a well known personality in the village who caused periodical excitement by announcing himself as heir to some millions in chancery. Tom Winter, Tankard, Hashbourne and Bradshaw were ail prominent villagers in Papanui in the fifties.

 

Among the early chemists it is interesting to learn that Dr. Chapman in 1852 had a dis­pensary in Cathedral Square at the back of where Warner's hotel now stands. Although a medico, he was not in large practice, confining his principal attention to the druggist's side of his profession.

 

Dr. Turnbull, who was ship's surgeon, arrived in 1858 and was in partnership with Dr. Nilson in 1859 in the premises built by Thomas Tombs on the present site of Cook and Ross.

 

C. M. Brooke was also an. early dispenser of drugs, his shop being in High Street near Hereford Street corner. His volubility earned him

90

the sobriquet of the "Babbling Brooke," and it is recorded that his loquacity precipitated a bout of fisticuffs with Captain Anderson, of Lee, Cole and Co., in which Brooke was badly worsted.

 

Old timers will probably recall Sherbrook and Walker and little Captain Brunker.

 

Four brothers of the Earl of Egmont lived on Whately Road in the fifties. They owned Easdale Nook station, according to the chronicler whom I quote, and their names were Percival, Augustus, Spencer and Charles John. These youths were generally regarded as somewhat eccentric. Their attempt at colonial life was unsuccessful and they all returned to England.

 

John Marshman will be remembered as provincial auditor, and his calligraphy as shown by the preparation of the statement of accounts when we severed our connection with the Canter­bury Association in London was of the very highest order. He was the general manager of the one and only railway line which Canterbury boasted of - Christchurch to Heathcote Valley. He has been described as "an unassuming man who wore a cabbage tree hat and loose fitting clothes." He once declared in the local court that he did not consider any railway guard to be drunk if he could coherently call out the name "Hills­borough"!

 

Many readers will remember Harold Henry de Bourbel, who was the son of a French Count. He was in partnership with Josiah Birch as millers, at Rangiora. In the sixties he opened an office in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, as a

91

Sharebroker, Land Agent and Mining company legal manager, his office door bearing the names of many wild - cat mining bubbles. Watts Russell, of Ilam, was for a time in partnership with him, but they soon separated. de Bourbel personally gave one the impression of the early Victorian - faultlessly attired, with high stand - up collar and large bow tie, waxed moustache, and wearing a grey, very shallow soft felt hat.

 

George Allen was a well known market gardener in St Asaph Street in the fifties, and was also a carrier. He owned the block of land on which the New Zealander hotel now stands, and he was the first licensee of the original hotel which occupied that section in 1861. Allen's land extended to the site of Coker's hotel, and he bequeathed this land to his wife, who after his death became the wife of John Coker, the popular landlord of the hotel which still retains his name.

 

James Drummond Macpherson was the first Christchurch representative of Mathieson's Agency, a London company which shipped merchandise to the colony on consignment. His premises were opened in the early sixties in the block known as Inglis' Buildings in Cashel Street, John Inglis succeeding Macpherson in the agency representation.

 

Thatcher will be remembered by many for his genius as a comic singer. It should be placed on record that the term "Old Identity" was coined by Thatcher - a designation which speedily became a household phrase.

 

Ted Goodacre the clothier, in his large store

92 

next to Papprill the tailor, near the present Chancery Lane, in Gloucester Street, was a well known personality. In the sixties this building was converted into a public house, being opened by William Styche, under the name of "The Union Jack."

 

Many people in the sixties became obsessed with the gold fever, and it was reported that the precious metal had been found on Banks Peninsula, and also at Pudding Hill, and Windwhistle.

 

Fred. Warner (known colloquially as "General" Warner), of the Golden Age hotel, shone as a mining expert, although his qualifica­tion appears to have been somewhat obscure, and Montgomery and Ollivier and others formed companies on most unreliable information, some of their enterprises rejoicing in such titles as "The Lamplight Gold Mining Company," "The Moonlight Coy.," "The Candlelight Coy.," etc.

 

The Government of the day offered a reward of £200 for the discovery of payable gold, but it was never called upon to pay. A Gold Prospecting Association was formed by John Ollivier, with W. R. Mitchell as chairman of its sub-committee, a working department being set up with a mining manager and four parties of three men to each party. They were supplied with full equipment for prospecting and the manager's salary was £4 per week and a horse, he having to pay for food for himself and his animal. The men were fed, and received twenty-five shillings per week, the Association stipulating that if gold were found,

93

the party finding it should receive a fourth share of the claim, the Government reward to be divided between the manager and the party responsible for the discovery. It proved, however, the same old story, and ended with the loss of all the subscribed capital.

 

Lime was practically unprocurable in the early days, and in the fifties many boats laden with cockle shells were brought up from the estuary to the Bricks Wharf in Barbadoes Street for use by the local contractors. Some of my readers may remember Worth, the plasterer - a staunch teetotaller, who was in demand as a plat­form orator at temperance meetings. He opened the "Hope Coffee Shop" in the Market Square, but modified his ethics, obtained a license, and became the proprietor of the original Market hotel.

 

The cutting on this side of Redcliffs was made by McGrath and his gang of Labourers, and the writer of the odds and ends from which this information is gleaned, records the fact that the tide when full, affected the Avon River as far up as the Market Place, and flounders could be speared in the vicinity of Colombo Street bridge.

 

The gold rush to the West Coast provided plenty of thrills to those valiant spirits who essayed to try their luck there, and the report which reached Christchurch that two hundred ounces of gold had been brought into Nelson, resulted in a rush across the ranges.

 

Matthew Lee Joyce, butcher, who at one time owned Turner's run on the Waimakariri, sailed

94

 

with others in the Emerald Isle from Lyttelton, with Johnny Oakes as skipper, but their quest proved futile. Thousands of men travelled by Lee Cole's coaches to Leithfield, Cole having ex­tended his route from Kaiapoi to meet the demand for passenger accommodation, and from Leithfield it was a case of swagging all the rest of the journey with pack horses, etc. Many men lost their lives by drowning in the treacherous rivers en route. The Provincial Government sent Inspector Revell, of Kaiapoi, to the Coast, and he was followed by Mr Sale with a staff of officials and police and Gaolers. When gold became plenti­ful it was decided to bring it overland to Canterbury for shipment, and an armoured con­veyance was built for the perilous journey, and placed in charge of Robert Shearman, head of the police. This, however, was abandoned, and the iron-clad derelict lay in dock in Christchurch for many years.

 

Ultimately a negotiable road was decided upon and Arthur's Pass and Otira Gorge road was formed by E. G. Wright, the contractor (afterwards owner of Windermere station) under the supervision of Edward Dobson as engineer.

 

Before the Waimakariri was bridged Felton was Punt man at the ferry and had a busy time. Among his regular customers were the resident magistrate, John Hall (afterwards Sir John) with George Hewlings, his clerk, and the attendant Maori assessors whose duties necessitated their frequent attendance at the court at Kaiapoi.

 

Leithfield got its name from John Leith,

95

a very intelligent man who had been employed on one of the runs, and afterwards opened an accommodation house in what became the village. It was to this district that the old windmill (erected by W. D. Wood on Windmill Road, Christchurch) was moved. The Woodend hotel was kept by Ned Parkhurst, a phenomenally strong man, well fitted by nature for keeping the recalcitrant element in some of his customers within reasonable bounds.

 

The accommodation house at Saltwater Creek was kept by Donald and Duncan Cameron, and was noted as a model of cleanliness and comfort.

 

Among old identities of the fifties at Kaiapoi was Alfred Durell, an Anglican clergyman's son, who later returned. to England. J. S. White also opened a store at Woodend in the fifties.

 

J. C. Porter the solicitor had his office in Raven Street, Kaiapoi, and Porter's Pass ill the great divide was named by him after his brother Alfred and himself.

 

Probably few people are aware whence Killinchy received its name. It was so called by the County Down "boys," who were located in that district, after the parish of Crosbie Ward's father, the Hon. and Rev. Ward.

 

All the lands between St Asaph Street and South Belt, and also between Barbadoes Street and East Belt and between Salisbury Street and North Belt, were originally town reserves, and were never intended to be sold but were looked upon as a future source of public revenue for the use of the province. When, however, they were

96

transferred to the corporate body of the new settlement, the Canterbury Association parted with all its responsibilities regarding them, and in February, 1854, W. Guise Brittan, Lands Commissioner, gave notice of his intention to sell these reserves, Mr Sewell offering strong opposition to any such procedure as being, quite illegal. A year later wiser counsels were ignored and the Provincial Council decided to dispose of them, and advertised them for sale on seven years' terms, ten per cent deposit, and 107 acres of this most valuable land was actually sold at the Royal hotel for about £60 per acre.

 

The immigration barracks which stood in the Market Place, were built by George Cliff in 1859, Benjamin Ward being the contractor for the Market House about the same date. Immigrants from the Cashmere, Clontarf, Regina, Maori, and Indiana were all housed in these immigration barracks. The type of settler depicted was robed in the old-fashioned smock frock with leggings and soft, round hat with wide, saucer-shaped rim.

 

Among horse dealers in the fifties Bill Edds, was reputed to have been the finest rider in the province. He worked for McClymont, who im­ported boat loads of horses from Hobart, and auctioned them through J. T. Parkinson at the old yards alongside the original White Hart hotel. There was no Tattersall's in those days, and the horses were tied up in High Street, then known as the Ferry Road, all the horsey fraternity being in evidence among the crowd.

 

Many readers will remember Charlie Morgan -

97 

the "Professor" - who made and sold Morgan's oils and other preparations. Morgan was a stockily-built very handsome Englishman with fine features and rich Dundreary whiskers.

 

Another well known townsman was Captain Westenra, a retired military man and a very early settler, his home being on the Hereford Street frontage of the present site of Tattersall's. Old timers will remember him taking his walks abroad with his bull terrier "Tippoo" - one of the real British type of bulldogs.

 

Charlie Wigzell was one of the town criers in the fifties. The contemporary description of him was as being neither ornamental nor pre­tentious, but plodding steadily through the streets - a typical sandwich board suspended from his shoulders with the notices always upside down, his county twang as he cried the news being very marked. He was succeeded by Redmond, who in London had been an "Elephant and Castle" bus driver, full of ready street wit. Redmond sported a vehicle in which he did his rounds which had been a glorified roster's barrow with tapered sides, but which he had transformed into what he ironically described as a "Tilbury," in the shafts of which was harnessed "Bob," a young steer which the erstwhile bus driver had broken in! Mounted in this contraption, Redmond was a picturesque personality, six feet high, with humorous face and rich sonorous voice - a bell in his hand as he roared his sales notices and current news.

 

"The Christchurch Vauxhall" was the name

98

given by Dick Kohler to the gardens used for public entertainment of which he was the proprietor. They were on Lincoln Road close to the present site of West Christchurch School and were very popular with young and old, but the town was not old enough to ensure the success of Kohler's venture and they were soon closed.

 

The infant town was not without the ubiquitous agitator as far back as the fifties, and judging by the records kept, they had very good reasons, in many cases at least, for discontent. Among the most prominent was Kent, who called himself a Chartist - a short swarthy English­man. Kent claimed he could put things right for the working man, as so many since his day have essayed to do. Billy Barnes was another well known lamp-post orator.

 

In the late fifties the Market Place barracks was full of people waiting for work. Land sales had been stopped, and the Government had no money. In desperation, men were given work at 3/6 per day, just to keep things going, and at that munificent rate of pay, the gardens round the Provincial Buildings were laid out, and Cathedral Square was levelled and planted. agitators, however, did not receive much support, and both Kent and Barnes faded out in due course.

 

The Lyttelton Choral Society was formed in 1853, with McCardell as its first conductor and Smeaton as violinist. McCardell was a draughts­man in the lands department, quick and active and full of innocent mirth, well-fitted for the

99

leadership of the Choral Society. Smeaton in private life was a machinist and a fiddler of some calibre. James Garwood (afterwards a store­keeper at Akaroa) was an enthusiastic member, and Joe Carder was the "Sims Reeves" of the Society, his lyric tenor voice being in great demand for all public concerts. Following the Choral Society the Canterbury Music Hall Company came into existence in 1862, Grosvenor Miles being its treasurer. Harston the solicitor was secretary to the company.

 

Two simple memorials in North Hagley Park stand as links with our town's infant days - the slab of stone on which is recorded the fact that some of the first settlers erected their homes on this spot, and the spring of water which they drank from, and which the Pilgrims' Association has memorialised by a rough hewn encasement of stonework which will keep it intact for many long years, the inscription fully describing the import of the monument.

 

The Bowen and Williams families were the two first dwellers at this spot, the former being Sir Charles Bowen's father, and the latter the father of C. Hood Williams, a well-remembered secretary for many years to the Lyttelton Harbour Board. Other pilgrim settlers in this neighbourhood were the Philpotts, the Treleavens, the Quaifes, Charles Turner and Messrs Brough­ton and Willis and Denton.