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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]



Leithfield is twenty-six miles from Christchurch on the North Road. In the old coaching days it had a bank and separate post office, saleyards, stores and hotels. The settlers began to make their homes in the district in the fifties. Owing to the opening of the railway line the traffic was diverted from Leithfield, and the principal business places were removed to Amberley. The old post office building, which was used in the early days, was also taken to Amberley, and now does duty there as a Magistrate's Court. Leithfield has an old Anglican church, which appears to have suffered from earthquakes. It has a school, a blacksmith's shop, a bakery, the shops of several builders, and a store, at which there is a post office. In 1902 the Kowai Road Board built a bridge over the river Kowai at Leithfield, for use in connection with stock and light traffic in time of flood. Leithfield is in the Kowai riding of the Ashley county, and at the census of 1901 it had 298 inhabitants.

Leithfield Post Office was originally established in the early coaching days. For a number of years it was a separate post and telegraph office, but about the year 1882 was closed, and the postal business was conducted in a cottage for about eleven years. Since 1898 the business has been carried on at the local store. The office is connected with Amberley by telephone and mails are received and despatched daily.

Mr. Charles Sydney White. Postmaster and Telephonist at Leithfield, was born in London in 1861. He came to New Zealand with his father, the late Mr. W. W. White, by the ship “Indian Empire,” in 1864. The family settled in Christchurch, where Mr. White, senior, died in the following year. Mr. C. S. White was brought up to mercantile life in Canterbury, and was for eight years in the employment of the Union Shipping Company, in Christchurch. He retired from the service in 1885. Mr. White was farming for six years in the North Island, but returned to Canterbury in 1891. He was then engaged in mercantile life in Christchurch until he took over the Leithfield store, which he has since conducted, in addition to performing the duties of postmaster. Mr. White has also served as a member of the local school committee. He was married, in 1884, to a daughter of Mr. J. Fuller, nurseryman, of Christchurch, and has one son.

Leithfield Public School was established in the early seventies. It stands on a three-acre section on The Terrace, and has two class-rooms and two porches, with accommodation for over 100 children. In the middle quarter of 1902 the roll contained fifty-four names, and the average attendance was forty-two. A schoolhouse of nine rooms stands on the property.

Mr. George Anderson, Headmaster of Leithfield Public School, was born in 1868, at Temuka. He served as a pupil teacher at Waitui, and was stationed at Rangitata, and afterwards at Loburn, before being appointed to Leithfield, in 1895. Mr. Anderson was married, in 1890, to a daughter of Mr. T. Thornley, of Waitui, and has five sons.

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St. Paul's Anglican Church, Leithfield, was built about the year 1857. It is a composite building of sun-dried bricks and wood, with an iron roof, and has seating accommodation for eighty worshippers. A Sunday school, with thirty-five scholars and three teachers, is held in the church. The vicarage is situated on the Balcairn road, and is a handsome building, surrounded by ornamental grounds and green fields. The vicar, assisted by lay readers, holds services also at Sefton, Balcairn, Ashley, and Loburn.

The Rev. Herbert Edward East. Vicar of Leithfield, was born at Oxford, England. He was educated at the Old Boys' High School and Christ's College, Christchurch; was ordained deacon in 1872, and priest in 1875. For three years prior to the latter date he was stationed at Governor's Bay, and from that year to 1891 at Addington, and was appointed vicar of Leithfield in 1891.

Franks, Francis William Anthony, Baker, Leithfield. Mr. Franks has conducted this business since 1889. The bakery of brick, and house and stable of wood, are erected on part of a three-acre section. From this centre a large business is done with the surrounding districts. Mr. Franks was born in London, in 1844. He learned his business with his father, and came out to Lyttelton by the ship “Zealandia,” in 1858. For six years he was employed in Christchurch, and had two years' experience on the Thames goldfields. Mr. Franks then returned to Christchurch, where he was in business for two years before settling at Leithfield. He has been on the Leithfield school committee for twenty-four years, and has occupied the chair since 1900. Mr. Franks served in several volunteer companies in the early days. He was in the Drum and Fife Band, and was at one time bugler of No. 6 Company. He was married, in 1866, to a daughter of the late Mr. G. Winskill, of Amberley, and has had ten daughters and four sons. One son and two daughters have died.

Clarke, photo. Mr. and Mrs F. W. A. Franks.

Clarke, photo.
Mr. and Mrs F. W. A. Franks.

Parker, Joseph. Builder. Leithfield. Mr. Parker was born at Woolwich, in 1862, and at the age of two years accompanied his parents to Lyttelton in the ship “Captain Cook.” The family settled in 1872 at Leithfield, where Mr. Parker was apprenticed to Mr. D. Shaw, builder, and has carried on business on his own account since 1886. He has been connected with the Loyal Leithfield Lodge of Oddfellows since 1887, and has been twice through the chairs.

Shaw, David, Builder and Contractor, Leithfield. Mr. Shaw was born in 1839 at Bentley, Warwickshire, England, where he was apprenticed as a wheelwright and coachbuilder, and found employment till 1859, when he came out to Lyttelton by the ship “Mystery.” For some time after his arrival in New Zealand Mr. Shaw worked at his trade in Christchurch, Kaiapoi, Mount Grey, Leithfield, and Birch Hill. He has been a settler in Leithfield since 1862, when he began business on the site on which he has since resided and had his workshop. Mr. Shaw's property consists of fourteen acres of freehold, which is in a capital state of cultivation. During his residence in the district he has erected a considerable number of public and private buildings. In the early days Mr. Shaw served for three years as a volunteer, and has been a member of the local school committee. As an Oddfellow he was one of the original members of the Loyal Leithfield Lodge. He was married, in 1865, to a daughter of the late Mr. C. Patterson, of Leithfield, and has six sons and three daughters.

Royal Hotel (Joseph Thornton, proprietor), Leithfield. This hotel is situated on the Main North Road, close to the Kowai river, and is one mile from the beach. The house contains fourteen bedrooms, two sitting-rooms, a dining-room, and a billiard-room with table; the hotel has also stabling and sheep paddocks connected with it.

Mr. Joseph Thornton, the Proprietor, was born in the town of Leicester, Leicestershire, England, in 1865. His parents kept the Loughborough Hotel, Churchgate, and he was early trained to the business. For some time he served in the hunting stables of Miss Paget, and in 1889 went as coachman with Governor O'Brien to Newfoundland, where he remained for three years. After a trip back to the Old Country, he came out in the “Oroya,” to Melbourne, and arrived in New Zealand in 1892. He was engaged as coachman with Mr. George Rhodes, of Meadowbank, and remained in that capacity for three years. In 1895 Mr. Thornton took over the Royal Hotel, Leithfield, where his cordiality has won him the esteem of the community and of the travelling public.

Leithfield Creamery (Sefton Dairy Company, proprietors), Leithfield. This creamery was established on the 19th of September, 1901. The building is of wood and iron, with a concrete floor, and contains an engine and stationary boiler of four-horse power, with an Alpha-de-Laval separator capable of treating 400 gallons of milk per hour. For the first season there were twenty-one suppliers. The cream is sent daily to the dairy factory at Sefton.

Mr. William Thomas Brown, Managor of the Leithfield Creamery, was born in Christchurch in 1879. He commenced his experience at the Sefton Factory, in 1897, and has been in charge at Leithfield since the opening of the creamery.


Boyce, John, Coach Proprietor and Settler, Leithfield. Mr. Boyce was born in
Mr. J. Boyce.

Mr. J. Boyce.

page 533 Northamptonshire, England, which he left with his parents when he was six months old by the ship “Pekin,” which arrived at Nelson in 1811. He was subsequently trained to pastoral pursuits, and was for a long time engaged in driving cattle and sheep from Nelson province to stock the Canterbury and Otago runs. On one occasion he was snowed up on the Clarence river for three weeks, living on beef alone, and lost 150 out of a herd of 400 head of cattle. On the same trip he was storm-bound in the Mackenzie country for three days, and lived entirely on wekas. Mr. Boyce settled in Leithfield in 1869, and three years later entered into the first contract to carry the mail once a week to Cheviot, which was then without bridges or roads, and only sparsely peopled. During the twenty years he carried the mail he saw good roads and bridges constructed, a number of homesteads springing up along the line, and a large population at Cheviot, with mails arriving and departing four days a week. In 1880 he purchased his first lot of land, and has now a good farm of 145 acres. Mr. Boyce married Miss Chapman in 1869, and has six sons and two daughters.

Brydon, Robert, Farmer, “Rosebery,” Leitbfield. Mr. Brydon was born in Midlothian, Scotland, in 1832, and arrived in Australia in 1854. He had a great many exciting experiences in the early days of the goldfields in Victoria and New South Wales, was at the Ballarat riots, and also had encounters with bushrangers. About the year 1858 Mr. Brydon came to Canterbury, and was for a time at the West Coast diggings. In 1861 he settled in Leithfield, where he bought his farm of seventy-three acres. He has reclaimed this property from its natural condition, and worked it for a number of years as a dairy farm; milking twenty cows, and sending the milk to the local creamery. Mr. Brydon was married, in 1864, to Miss Lindsay, of Forfarshire, Scotland, and has seven sons and seven daughters.

Graham, William, Farmer, Leithfield, Mr. Graham was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1847, was brought up to country life, and came to Lyttelton by the ship “Roman Em peror” in 1862. He gained his early experience of farming at Mount Grey Downs with his father, the late Mr. W. Graham, and in 1873 began on his own account as a farmer and contractor at Mount Grey Downs, where he resided for ten years. Mr. Graham was afterwards at Waipara for nine years, and finally settled at Leithfield in 1892. He resides on a property of fifteen acres, and since 1895 has done a good deal of droving. Mr. Graham was married, in 1873, to a daughter of the late Mr. T. Dalziell, of Leithfield, and has seven sons and four daughters.

McLean, George Alexander. Farmer, Willowbend Farm, Leithfield. This property consists of eighty acres of freehold land, and the proprietor also works a run of 4000 acres at Mount Grey, on which he keeps about 1300 sheep. Mr. McLean was born at Horsley Down, North Canterbury, in 1861, and was brought up to country life in the Leithfield district, where he has farmed on his own account since 1885. He has held the position of Permanent Secretary of the Loyal Leithfield Lodge of Oddfellows since 1880, and the district offices in connection with the Order, acting also as secretary of the Loyal Huia Lodge of Past Grand Masters. For several years he has served as a member of the local school committee, of which he was at one time chairman; and he is also a member of the Kowai Road Board, and chairman of the Leithfield Domain Board, and has taken an active interest in local games as secretary of the local sports committee. Mr. McLean has also been secretary of the Amberley branch of the New Zealand Farmers' Union. He was prominent in advocating the construction of the foot-and-stock bridge over the Kowai, at Leithfield, which was opened in 1902, and generally has for many years taken a leading part in most movements for the development of the district. In his early days Mr. McLean won many prizes for athletics, among others at Lancaster Park for the 120 yards hurdles. which he accomplished in seventeen seconds. He was married, in 1885, to a daughter of the late Inspector J. Johnston, of the Irish Constabulary, and has one son and six daughters.

Clarke, photo. Mr. G. A. McLean.

Clarke, photo.
Mr. G. A. McLean.

Trail, George, Farmer, “Craigielea,” Leithfield. Mr. Trail was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1831, and has always been engaged in country pursuits. He came to Lyttelton in the ship “Mermaid” (Captain Rose), in 1864, and settled at Kaiapoi Island, where he was farming for several years. In 1871 he removed to Leithfield, where he purchased his property of 270 acres, which is situated between the two branches of the Kowai river. The land was then in its natural state, covered with flax, and a considerable portion of it was boggy. The property has since been completely fenced, drained and cultivated and is utilised chiefly as a sheep farm. Mr. Trail was married, in 1852, to a daughter of Mr. W. Davidson, of the parish of Newmacher, Scotland, and has five sons and six daughters, besides thirty grandchildren.

Clarke, photo. Mr. and Mrs G. Trail.

Clarke, photo.
Mr. and Mrs G. Trail.

Old Colonists.

Mr. Robert Parker came to Lyttelton in 1864 by the ship “Captain Cook.” He was born at Greenwich, England, in 1832, and was brought up as an engineer. For some time after arriving in New Zealand Mr. Parker was employed on coastal vessels, trading between Lyttelton and Westland, and was at one time wrecked at Hokitika. In 1872 he settled in the Leithfield district, where he found employment as an engineer up to the time of his death. He was drowned in the Kowai river in 1880. Mr. Parker was married, in 1861, to a daughter of Mr. J. Pepperill, carrier, of Christchurch, and had eight sons and seven daughters. One son and one daughter are dead.

Mr. Alfred Rhodes was born in Stepney, London, in 1818, and was brought up to the sea. He first saw New Zealand in 1845, as a sailor on the ship “Ralph Burnell,” which during that year called at Wellington and at Nelson. Not long afterwards he sailed to Lyttelton with a small schooner, which brought Messrs Greenwood Brothers to Purau and Motunau, and also Messrs Prebble Brothers, who gave their name to Prebbleton. He also conveyed stores from Wellington in the “Sarah Jane,” a vessel owned by Mr. Fitzherbert, for the first surveyors in Otago; and his was the first boat that entered the Molyneux river. Some time afterwards Mr. Rhodes settled at Lyttelton, whence by direction of Captain Thomas, he was sent with a large sealing boat to the Waimakariri, the future site of Kaiapoi, with stores for the Canterbury Association's surveyors, of whom Mr. J. C. Boys was the chief, and Mr. Alfred Weston and the late Mr. Charles Denby were page 534 assistants. Mr. Rhodes and his crew ascended the Kaiapoi river for about six miles; they found it navigable all the way, and were able to sail for most of the distance. The Maoris witnessed the progress up the river with great interest, and assisted in guiding the voyagers to the survey party. Beyond the open land, where Kaiapoi now stands, there was then a dense bush of about a thousand acres. That was all before the arrival of Mr. J. R. Godley, the founder of Canterbury, and the “pilgrims” of the first four ships. Mr. Rhodes afterwards became a Canterbury settler under the Canterbury Association. He lived till 1862 in Lyttelton, where he found plenty of work for the lighters and coasting vossels, in which he was interested. In that year he settled in the Mount Grey Downs district, and afterwards devoted his time to farming. Mr. Rhodes was married on the 4th of December, 1852, to the eldest daughter of the late Mr. W. G. Chainey, of Christchurch, one of the passengers by the “Randolph,” in 1850, and had eight sons and seven daughters. Three sons and one daughter predeceased him. Mr. Rhodes died at his residence, Leichfield, on the 2nd of October, 1902.

Mr. John Smellie, who was connected with the district of Leithfield for over forty years, was born in Peebleshire, Scotland, on the 13th of April, 1832. He was brought up as a stonemason, and came to New Zealand in 1858 by the ship “Indiana,” which landed at Lyttelton. Soon afterwards he took up land at Leithfield, but also worked for some time at his trade in Christchurch. In 1866 he settled permanently at Leithfield, where he farmed successfully until April, 1902, when he retired in favour of his son. Mr. Smellie was a member of the Leithfield school committee for twenty years, and three times chairman, and for several years he was treasurer of the Kowai Rifle Club. He was identified with every movement and organisation beneficial to the district, especially the founding of the district library, public school, and Presbyterian Church, and endeared himself to the people of the Leithfield distriot by his warm, generous, and cheerful disposition. Mr. Smellie was married in New Zealand in 1865, and has a family of one son and three daughters. He now (1903) lives in retirement at 46 Armagh Street, Christchurch.

Mr. J. Smellie.

Mr. J. Smellie.

Mr. Samuel Wornall was one of the band of settlers who landed in Lyttelton from the ship “Sir George Seymour” on the 16th of December, 1850, and was born in County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1810. He settled at Leithfield, in 1859, and is said to have been the first settler who made his home on the north side of Saltwater Creek. Mr. Wornall imported one of the first thrashing machines used in the district. He was married, in 1843, to a daughter of the late Mr. A. Jackson, of County Wicklow. Mrs Wornall, who was born in 1820, survives her husband, who died in March, 1892. The family consists of seven sons and two daughters, and there are thirty-eight grandchildren, and sixty-eight greatgrandchildren.

Photo lent by Mr. J. J. Collins, of Collins of Harman. Mount Gray Downs Homestead.

Photo lent by Mr. J. J. Collins, of Collins of Harman.
Mount Gray Downs Homestead.