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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]


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Sumner is one of the beauty spots of Canterbury. Nestling under the steep hills and cliffs, washed by the waves of the Pacific Ocean, and drawing its robust yet genial atmosphere straight from the sea, it is, firstly, a health resort, and secondly, a pleasure resort, for the toilers and moilers who dwell in the city, about eight miles away. Sumner can be reached in an hour on the tramcars, after a delightful ride past fields and pastures, cottages and mansions, gardens and beautiful vistas formed by the winding course of the Heathcote river. In the warm weather it is specially well patronised, as then sea-bathing is added to other quiet attractions. On Saturdays, and public holidays, the tramcars are generally crowded with visitors, who have taken “a day off” to spend it in recuperative recreation at Sumner. Settlement at Sumner was begun as early as the year 1851, and even earlier, for before that time Captain Thomas, the Canterbury Association's advance agent, had established a store, as he had also laid out and commenced the Lyttelton-Sumner Road before the arrival of the first four ships at Lyttelton in December, 1850. The colony's Institute for Deaf Mutes is close to the town. At present (1902) there is a proposal to construct a small harbour at Sumner, and to complete the Sumner-Lyttelton Road, with a tramway to Lyttelton, running through the hill at Evans's Pass. In this way Christ-church and Lyttelton would have direct communication by means of alternative routes.

The Sumner Borough Council has jurisdiction over an area estimated at 4,786 acres. Previous to June 1891, when the borough was incorporated, there was a town board, and before it was brought into operation, the area now included in the borough had been a portion of the rfeathcote road district. At the census taken in April, 1901, Sumner had a population of 844. It has 190 houses and 282 ratepayers. The value of the unimproved property within the borough is £64,236, and the value of improvements is £66,787. There is a general rate of 1s in the pound, a waterworks rate of 7d in the pound to provide annually recurring interest on an inscribed loan of £3,550, and a water rate of two and a half per cent. on land and buildings not connected with the main but within 100 yards of it. The charge for water is £1 a year for each house, and where meters are used the consumers are allowed 15,000 gallons for £1: for all water used in excess of that amount the charge is at the rate of 4s 3d per thousand gallons. Sumner's water supply is obtained by means of a reservoir, into which water is pumped from artesian wells sunk into the deep strata. The borough is lighted by acetylene gas.

His Worship The Mayor, Mr. William Rollitt, is a member of the well-known family of engineers and iron-founders of Thorne. Yorkshire, England. He was born in 1856, and educated at Brooke's Grammar School, of which his father was one of the governors. After passing through his father's works he came to Lyttelton by the s.s. “Norfolk” in 1874, and took up land at Hororata, where he had a mill and farm for some years. Mr. Rollitt is one of the founders of the well-known milling firm at Ashburton, which still bears his name and from which he retired in 1896. He was connected with the Sumner Borough Council for some time before being elected to the civic chair, and has always taken an interest in educational matters; he was chairman of the Hororata School Committee for some years, and is at present chairman of the Sumner School Committee. Mr. Rollitt has long been connected with racing matters and has been a breeder of horses, the well-known hurdle racer “Mammoe” having been bred by him. He was an active member of the Ashburton Racing Club, and now holds office as secretary of the New Zealand Trotting Association, of which he was at one time chairman. He is secretary of the Al and Hokitika River Gold Dredging Companies, and as a Freemason he was initiated in Lodge St. John, E.C., Ashburton. Mr. Rollitt was married in 1885 to a daughter of Mr. J. S. Woodhouse of Hursley, Amberley, and has one daughter and four sons.

Standish and Preece, photo Mr. W. Rollitt.

Standish and Preece, photo
Mr. W. Rollitt.

Councillor R. A. Bradbury was elected a Member of the Sumner Borough Council in 1900. He is a native of Christ-church, and was for many years a prominent member of the Union Rowing Club. Mr. Bradbury also took a leading part in the formation page 406 of the Christchurch Amateur Rowing Club.

Councillor Charles Clark was elected to the Stunner Borough Council in January, 1902, and has since served on the finance committee. Mr. Clark was born at Watford, England, and came to New Zealand with his parents in 1875, by the sailing ship “Blairgowrie.” He was educated in Christ-church, and has been engaged in the ironmongery business for nineteen years. He now holds the position of manager of a department in the hardware firm of Messrs Mason, Struthers, and Co., of Christchurch. Mr. Clark is well known in athletic circles, and for two years played with the senior champion team of the Christchurch Football Club.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo. Councillor C. Clark.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.
Councillor C. Clark.

Councillor George R. Drew was elected to the Sumner Borough Council in 1901. Mr. Drew arrived in Melbourne from England in June, 1840, and came to New Zealand in 1875. He carried on business, on the Ferry Road, as a baker and confectioner for sixteen years. Mr. Drew was afterwards in business in the same line at Sumner, but has recently retired.

Councillor J. C. Hughes was elected a Member of the Sumner Borough Council on the 24th of April, 1898. He had, at a previous period, been a member of the Council for seven years. Mr. Hughes has also been a member of the Sumner school committee. He is referred to in another article as a teacher of music.

Councillor Joseph Illingworth was elected to the Sumner Dorough Council in 1902. He was born in Canterbury, and was brought up to farming. Mr. Illingworth resides on his farm on the Sumner-Lyttelton Road. His fruit garden of twenty acres is recognised as one of the chief attractions of Sumner, and is much frequented and patronised by visitors from all parts of Canterbury. Mr. Illingworth has one of the finest vinerles in the colony, and the grapes he grows are second to none. Besides the orchard, Mr. Illingworth farms 120 acres of land. Tomatoes grown on his sunny slopes mature a month earlier than those grown on lower ground. A visit to Mr. Illingworth's farm daring the fruit season will well repay the visitor.

Standish and Preece, photo. Councillor J. Illingworth.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Councillor J. Illingworth.

Councillor John Maffey was elected to the Sumner Borough Council in 1899. He follows the occupation of a market gardener at Reacliffs.

Councillor Frederick Pratt was elected to the Sumner Borough Council on the 24th of April, 1901.

Councillor Frank Rowell was elected to the Sumner Borough Council in 1899, and is a member of the works and finance committees. Mr. Rowell is a native of Canterbury, and was brought up to farming in the Springston district. He, however, joined the telegraph department in Christ-church, and remained in it for ten years. Mr. Rowell afterwards resigned his position and took up a business in Sumner.

Standish and Preece, photo. Councillor F. Rowell.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Councillor F. Rowell.

Councillor Arthur Senior was elected to the Sumner Borough Council at the by-election of 1900, and was re-elected in 1901. He is a builder and contractor.

Mr. James Crawford, Town Clerk and Borough Engineer, Valner, and Returning Officer for the Borough of Sumner, was born in Liverpool, and educated at Barrow, Wexford, Ireland. Mr. Crawford was subsequently brought up as a civil engineer in Ireland, and came to Wellington in the ship “Alma.” Soon after his arrival, he joined the Public Works Department in Wellington, and was afterwards in Hawke's Bay. He arrived in Canterbury in 1863, and was appointed engineer in the Public Works Department, Christchurch. Under the Provincial Government, he was engaged by the Railway Department in 1872 to survey and prepare plans and sections for the following lines of railway:—Rolleston, Sheffield, and Whltecliffs; Southbridge, Kaiapol, and Lyttelton; Rangiora, Oxford, Pareora, and Waitaki. He was engaged by the late Mr. Doyne, C.E., in making an engineering surrey of the Canterbury plains, between the Waimakariri and Rakaia. This survey extended over an area of nearly 500 square miles. He joined the Survey Department in Christchurch, in 1875, and two years later retired, since which time he has been engaged in private practice as a civil engineer, having been frequently called to supervise works in Hororata and Malvern districts. He also held several mining appointments, notably in connection with the Home Bush Mine. Mr. Crawford was appointed, on the establishment of the Borough of Sumner, to the offices he now fills, and carried out the system of water supply for Sumner which has been so successful. He has also designed the system of water supply for the town of Geraldine, which has been adopted by the Council. For many years Mr. Crawford was the chairman of the Sumner school committee. He was married, in 1870, to a daughter of the late Mr. Slater, of Christ-church, solicitor, and has four sons and one daughter.

The Sumner Public School, which is situated on one acre of land with a considerable frontage to Bury Street, is a onestorey wooden building of two rooms, with accommodation for 120 children. The number on the roll is 106, and the average attendance ninety-one. The staff consists of the headmaster, one certificated mistress and a pupil-teacher. The master's residence consists of seven rooms.

Mr. John McLeod, Headmaster of the Sumner School, was born in 1869 at Timaru, and was educated at Orari, where he served for four years as a pupil-teacher. Subsequently he was granted a D1 certificate, and became an undergraduate of Canterbury College. After keeping two years' terms he passed the first section of the B A. degree, and his certificate was then raised to C1. For over a year he was headmaster at Opihi, and was afterwards assistant master at the Southbridge school. After four years as headmaster of the Annat school, he was appointed to Sumner in 1807. Mr. McLeod was married in 1894 to a daughter of Mr G. C. Waby, of Southbridge.

Hughes, John Charles, Teacher of Music, Piano and Organ, Sumner. Mr. Hughes was born at Clapham, England, and came to New Zealand with his parents by the ship “Isabel Hercus,” landing in Lyttelton in 1862. When he was fifteen he learnt joinery in connection with the tuning and repairing of organs and pianos. He studied for several terms under Mr. Robert Parker, of Wellington, then went to Sydney to finish under Mr. F. Morley, and found constant occupation in teaching, tuning, page 407 and repairing, and was also under engage ment with Messrs Brinsmead and Co., and other famous manufacturers. In 1884 he returned to Auckland, went to Gisborne for two years, and was appointed organist at the Wesleyan church. In 1886 he settled in Sumner, where he has secured a fair number of pupils, and also at Christchurch. Mr. Hughes has passed his examination in theory, harmony, modulation, sound production, etc., and hopes to pay a visit to the Old Country to go through a University examination. He is a Mason, and has been organist for the Lyttelton Lodge for eight years. Mr. Hughes was for seven years a member of the Sumner Borough Council, and has been on the Sumner school committee since 1886.

Sumner Beach: The Third Contingent Gala.

Sumner Beach: The Third Contingent Gala.