The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series
Longbeach — (Run 45 N.Z.R., afterwards re-numbered Run 247 under the Canterbury Regulations; and 51 N.Z.R.)
(Run 45 N.Z.R., afterwards re-numbered Run 247 under the Canterbury Regulations; and 51 N.Z.R.)
The country south of the Ashburton was outside the Canterbury Block and for a few years the General Government administered it under a Commissioner of Crown Lands of their own in Christchurch. The Government let and sold land under different conditions and at different prices from the Canterbury Association, and, of course, had their own sequence of run numbers. When writing of runs held under the Government regulations I have put N.Z.R. against the run numbers.
Longbeach, which at one time took in all the country between the Ashburton and Hinds rivers, ran from the sea up to within a couple of miles or so of the present railway line, where it joined Lagmhor.
Run 51 N.Z.R. lay along the sea and up the Ashburton river, skirting the great swamp formed by the Hinds delta. James Field first applied for it on 1st November, 1854, and Charles Seal applied for 'an island near the coast in the fork of the Hinds,' on the same day. Field was allotted Run 51 N.Z.R., and Seal, Run 45 N.Z.R., which was re-numbered 247 under the Canterbury Regulations in February, 1858.
Field sold his run to C. E. Fooks after a year or two, and in 1857 Fooks sold it to FitzGerald and Cox, the owners of the Springs Station, near Lincoln. FitzGerald, the chief partner, named the run Longbeach, and they used it to carry young cattle from the Springs. Cox came down and started the station. The firm was called Brown, Cox and Co. after Hunter Brown joined it in 1859.
Seal sold the other run (247), which took in the page 116Hinds delta, to Moore and Kermode about 1856. In the maze of swamps and creeks which were there in those days, the boundary between these runs was illdefined, and Moore and Kermode claimed most of Brown, Cox and Co.'s run. In 1862 they went to law, and Brown, Cox and Co. won the case, whereupon Moore and Kermode bought a great part of Brown, Cox and Co.'s run freehold. Brown, Cox were left with only three or four thousand acres and decided that such a small run was not worth bothering with, so they sold it to Ford and Newton in 1862. Joseph Haydon, who years afterwards made such a fortune out of the Virginia country, was manager for Ford and Newton.
In 1862 Moore and Kermode sold their station (Run 247) to Michael Campbell and Edward Merson Templer. The homestead of it was where James Stoddart lives now.
In 1864 John Grigg came down from the North Island and bought the whole of both runs freehold, and bought the lessees' interests as well, which was considered very liberal of him, as by holding off he could have had everything except the stock for next to nothing. The story of the conversion of this howling wilderness of toe toe and raupo, nigger head and flax, into what Canterbury people proudly called ' the best farm in the world ' is too well known to be repeated. When Grigg went there the greater part of the country was shown on a map in the Land Office as a ' valueless bog.'
Both the stations which Grigg bought had been worked entirely as cattle stations, and for some time he continued to run cattle only. In those days more fat cattle went to the diggings on the Coast from Longbeach than from any other two stations in Canterbury. When the country was stocked with sheep the sheep were brought from the North. Grigg in those days was more of a general farmer and cattle man than a sheep man, but was open to advice. Someone told him that sheep should never be put across a river after three o'clock in the afternoon, so he gave orders to his shep-page 117herds to that effect. When they crossed the Rakaia it was in several streams and at three o'clock the sheep were on an island. The shepherds carried out their orders literally and left them where they were. They took a risk as it was blowing nor'-west up country, and the river rose a good deal in the night. However, they got them over the last stream in the morning and everything was well. At first Grigg only ran sheep on a belt of dry land along the coast, north of the homestead, and this part of the station is still called the ' sheep paddocks.'
When the drains were working, Longbech was a wonderful place. In the 'seventies they shore 30,000 sheep, fed 3000 pigs, 1000 or more head of cattle, and worked 150 draught horses. There were nearly 200 permanent hands on the station and in one year Grigg had five thousand acres in wheat and three thousand in oats.
For some years Grigg had a partner, Thomas Russell, and until they dissolved partnership the station consisted of thirty-two thousand acres of freehold. On the dissolution, however, fifteen thousand acres of land were sold, and the surplus stock realised £35,000.
John Grigg died in November, 1901, and was succeeded by his son J. C. N. Grigg, who after buying out the other beneficiaries had some ten thousand acres left with the station. J. C. N. Grigg died in 1926 and was succeeded by the present owner, a third John Grigg. Since 1907 a good deal of the land has been sold, but it remains one of the finest agricultural and pastoral properties in New Zealand.
Grigg's first manager was his brother, Joseph Grigg, and Edgar Jones, afterwards of Mt. Nessing and several other stations, came with the sheep and was a cadet for a year or so afterwards. William Massey, the Prime Minister, was a station hand at Longbeach for a time. Thomas Black was foreman and head shepherd under Joseph Grigg, who was succeeded as manager by a man named Hocking. Standish, who was stock manager, had charge of John Grigg's dealings in fat cattle, and page 118with about eight stockmen under him used to deliver them to the West Coast butchers. Thomas Dove was on the station for over forty years, first as head stockman and afterwards as book-keeper. Tout was agricultural manager under the first and second John Grigg for many years. He died while manager of Bangor since the 1914-18 War. R. Biddock was manager while J. C. N. Grigg was in England during the War. John Smith was head shepherd at Longbeach for thirty years. Of the early owners, Field was one of the brothers who took part of the Springs Station. I know nothing about Seal, except that in 1853 and 1854 he was a cadet with Phillips at Rockwood, and that in 1878 he was still living somewhere near Ashburton. Fooks had a run at Papanui and an interest in Lochinvar, under which I have given an account of him. The other early owners come into the stories of their other stations.