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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Mr. Samuel Charles Farr

Mr. Samuel Charles Farr was born in Baldock, Hertfordshire, England, in 1827, and left London on the 19th of November, 1849, in the barque “The Monarch,” for Aucklond. On he 5th of March, 1860, while “The Monarch” was crossing the Tasman Sea in a heavy gale, her rudder was carried away. The vessel drifted with the wind to the south of Stewart's Island, and it took a fortnight to get a temporary rudder into adjustment. A start was then made up the east coast, but a week later the new rudder was carried away and was lost. On the 2nd of April, 1850, “The Monarch” managed to reach Akaroa, and there forty-one passengers, including Mr. Farr, decided to remain. Then began the hardships and difficulties [gap — reason: illegible] to a pioneer life. Prior to leaving England Mr. Farr had become engaged to Miss Pavitt, one of his fellow passengers, with the intention of being married as soon as possible after landing. However, divers obstacles presented themselves, as there was no official to perform the ceremony, and a ring was wanted. Mr. Farr, like a true lover and a true colonist, surmounted the latter difficulty by fashioning a ring out of a half-sovereign, and shortly afterwards the local magistrate, Mr John Watson, was appointed Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. So on the 15th of June, 1850, the ceremony was performed, and this, the first marriage celebrated in Canterbury, was very appropriately associated with elements of romance. Nor did Mr. Farr's ingenuity end with the happy solution of his own difficulties, for he subsequently received commissions to make six similar rings. Fifty years later Mr. Farr celebrated his own golden wedding in Christchurch. About the time of his arrival the first English flourmill in Canterbury was erected in the Grehan Valley, Akaroa, by Mr. Haylock, who, with his sons, cut the timber for the building and machinery, and formed a water race and an 18-feet overshot wheel. The cog-wheels, which were made of wood, being incorrectly geared, were crushed to atoms at the first trial. Mr. Farr, having studied the theory of cog-wheels, volunteered his assistance, and re-constructed the wheels, with the result that within three weeks the mill was smoothly working. Mr. Farr next made a miniature working model of a saw mill, and subsequently, in partnership with Messrs Pavitt, erected sawmills at Robinson's Bay, Barry's Bay, Duvauchelle's, land the Head of the Bay. He also followed his profession as an architect, and designed the first
Standish and Preece, photo Mr. S. C. Farr.

Standish and Preece, photo
Mr. S. C. Farr.

page 362 English Church in Akaroa, and subsequently the Akaroa monument. The first Sunday School in Canterbury was held on the 30th of June, 1850, and was started by Mr. Farr with five scholars. In March, 1862, Mr. Farr came to Christchurch, where he has followed his profession up to the present time (1902). The stately Normal School is an evidence of his ability, and Mr Farr has also been the architect of St. Paul's Church, the Presbyterian churches at Papanui, Lyttelton, Kaiapoi, Leeston, and the old church on the North Belt. A very large number of business places also were designed by him. During the Twenty-two years he was secretary of the Acclimatisation Society Mr Farr stocked almost every lake and river is Canterbury with fish. He was also instrumental in introducing the humble bee into New Zealand. Mr. Farr established the first Sunday School Union in Christchurch in 1869, and was president for the first seven years. He was also chairman and an active officer in the Volunteer Fire Police, a salvage corps which did good service. The first side channels in the city were designed by and constructed under his supervision; and he also designed and erected the first iron verandahs in New Zealand, the first one being for Mr. Charles Kiver, in Cashel Street, on the site now occupied by Messrs Wardell Bros. At the Canterbury Jubilee Exhibition of 1900 Mr. Farr exhibited a basrelief plan of Banks' Peninsula, carved in wood, and for this clever piece of workmanship be received a gold medal. Linked as Mr. Farr has been with the history and progress of Canterbury for over fifty years, and associated with every movement inaugurated for the welfare of the colony, his interesting career and his active and useful life supply a bright object lesson for future generations. Mr. Farr has a family of two; a son, who is an architect in Wellington, and a daughter, the wife of Dr. F. MacBean Stewart, of Christchurch.