The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]
Aylesbury, situated between Rolleston and Kirwee, at a distance of twenty-two miles west from Christchurch, is a farming district, whose history dates back to the early sixties. Its first settlers—Messrs Cass, Holland, Catrick, Walker, and Price—were York-shiremen, and the district was known for many years by the name of Yorktown. Aylesbury is particularly adapted for the grazing of sheep, though grain growing is also carried on to a considerable extent by the farmers. Almost the whole of the district is now in private hands. The holdings generally vary in size from 200 to 1900 acres, though there are a few sections of less than 200 acres. Aylesbury is in direct communication with Christchurch by rail, the line between Rolleston and Kirwee running through its eastern portion. There is a post office at the railway station, with a daily mail service; and a public school, with an average attendance of about twenty-two, is situated in the centre of the district.
Aylesbury Estate, Aylesbury. This estate is owned by the National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand. It was founded in the early days by Mr. John Brabazon, who had it broken in from the tussock, fenced and subdivided by gorse hedges, and personally superintended it for many years. In 1895 the estate passed into the hands of the National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand, which has placed it under the supervision of a manager with several assistants. The total area of the property is about 1840 acres. It has about four miles of frontage to the Kirwee railway line, is intersected by several public roads, and judiciously planted with numerous clumps of shelter trees. Sheep grazing and crop growing are carried on extensively. The residence, now occupied by the manager, was erected many years ago by Mr. Brabazon. It is a handsome dwelling of two stories, facing the railway line, at a distance of about half a mile from it, and is almost completely surrounded by trees.
Mr. Hugh Nurse, Manager of the Aylesbury Estate, was born at Invercargill in 1878, and is a son of the late Hon. W. H. Nurse, at one time proprietor of a station in Southland, and for many years a member of the Legislative Council. He was educated, primarily, at public schools in the south, and, afterwards, at the Boys' High School, Christchurch. On leaving school he commenced life as a farmer, spent some years on various estates in Canterbury and Marlborough, and, in 1902, was appointed to his present position. Mr. Nurse takes a keen interest in shooting. He is a member of the Christchurch Gun Club, and has won several prizes at pigeon shooting matches.
Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. H. Nurse.
“Fernbank” (T. W. Johnson, proprietor), Aylesbury. This estate was originally in the hands of Mr. George Mangin, an early colonist, but was afterwards taken over by the Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, Limited. In 1889 it passed into the hands of its present proprietor. It consists of about 900 acres, is nearly square in shape, and is subdivided into twelve paddocks. Sheep are kept; rape, turnips and grain are grown extensively, and oats average about thirty bushels per acre. Labour saving implements are almost constantly in use upon the estate, such as reapers and binders and other modern machines.
Mr. Tom Wright Johnson, Proprietor of “Fernbank,” was born in 1860, at Mumby, Lincolnshire, England, and is the youngest son of Mr. William Graves Johnson, a farmer of Mumby. He gained his education at the national school in a neighbouring village, and afterwards farmed with his father until 1875, when he sailed for New Zealand. Just prior to the arrival of the vessel at Lyttelton he was stricken down with an unknown malady, and, in consequence, was compelled to land at Quarantine Island. The following day, however, he was visited by relatives, who had been awaiting his arrival, and, permission for his landing having been obtained, he was conveyed to Lyttelton and thence to Christchurch. There he remained until thoroughly recovered, and then joined his brother Robert, who was at that time engaged in farm work at Racecourse Hill, Darfield. The two brothers worked together at Darfield, for about two years, and afterwards at Aylesbury. In 1878 Mr. T. W. Johnson started on his own account. For a number of years he was engaged in cropping, and in otherwise farming on leasehold property at Aylesbury and in the neighbouring districts. Captain Tosswill's farm, at Aylesbury, and the reserve of 276 acres, between Kirwee and Darfield, were his chiefly leasehold farms. His first freehold property was a section of 210 acres at Aylesbury. He bought it late in the eighties, and sold it again in 1897, having, in the meantime, acquired page 731 possession of “Fernbank.” Mr. Johnson is a member of the Courtenay branch of the Canterbury Farmers' Union. In 1886 he married Miss Mary Dobson, of St. Albans, Christchurch, and has two sons and one daughter.
Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. and Mrs T. W. Johnson and Family.
Fowler, William Longney, Farmer, Aylesbury. Mr. Fowler was born on the 14th of November, 1830, at the village of Leonard Stanley, Gloucestershire, England, where his father, the late Mr. Thomas Fowler, was the proprietor of an estate, known as Prairie Farm. He was educated at a private school, about four miles from his native village, and afterwards brought up to farm work on his father's estate. In 1851 he left home for Woodchester, about four miles distant, and remained there until 1858, when he disposed of his property to sail for New Zealand. He landed at Nelson at the end of 1858, and took up land at Richmond. There he farmed for five years, and left in 1864 for Amuri, North Canterbury, where he became the proprietor of a station of 20,000 acres, known as “Stanley Vale.” Whilst still in possession of this property he took up another station of 30,000 acres, known as “The Top House,” in Nelson, and carried on the two runs for some years. However, in 1892, a series of misfortunes compelled him to relinquish his estates, and he was farming for two years on a smaller scale at Kaiapoi. In 1894 he bought property at Aylesbury, where he now holds upwards of 600 acres. The whole of his farm is devoted to sheep and cattle and to agriculture. Mr. Fowler has been twice married, and has a family of seventeen children. His first marriage took place in 1851, when he married Eliza, second daughter of Mr. Jacob Thomas, of Woodchester Park, about four miles from Leonard Stanley. This lady died in Nelson, in 1862, leaving two sons and two daughters. Four years later he married Miss M. Parsons, of Waiwera, Nelson, and she has borne him four sons and nine daughters. Mr. Fowler is an honorary member of the Working Men's Club, of Sydenham, Christchurch.
Raynham Estate (Jonathan Sowden, of Dunsandel, proprietor), Aylesbury. “Raynham” was formerly in the hands of the Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, Limited, and was afterwards held by private persons. Mr. Sowden bought the estate in 1899. It has a total area of 2500 acres, and is fenced, subdivided, and stocked with sheep. Cropping is also carried on to a considerable extent, and oats yield about thirty bushels per acre.
Mr. Robert Burgess was appointed manager of “Raynham,” in March, 1901. He was born at Templeton, in 1867, and is the second son of Mr. George Burgess, an early colonist, now living in retirement in Christchurch. He was educated at the Dunsandel and West Christchurch public schools, and was afterwards engaged for about ten years on his father's farm at Dunsandel. In 1893 he became working manager on Mr. John Deans' estate at Riccarton, and remained there until he was appointed to his present position. He is a member of the Courtenay and Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and also of the Courtenay branch of the Canterbury Farmers' Union. Mr. Burgess was married in 1890, to Miss Mangin, of Greendale, and has one son and one daughter.
Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. R. Burgess.
Smith, Young, Ashton Farm, Aylesbury. Mr. Smith was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1841. He was employed at farm work in his native district till 1864, when he sailed for New Zealand. On landing at Auckland he entered into an engagement to work for a farmer in the neighbourhood of Waiuku, but soon left that district to work at Papakura. In 1867 he determined to try his fortune on the West Coast goldfields, which were then attracting large numbers, and was soon on the diggings near Hokitika. After spending a few weeks there with but little success, he resolved to return to farm work, and with that end in view he removed to Canterbury, where he found employment on Mr. H. White's estate at Lincoln. He remained there upwards of two years, and then went to Greendale, where, in conjunction with his brother, he took up land and farmed for about five years. The Thames goldfields had then commenced to produce good returns, and Mr. Smith joined the rush thither, only to return twelve months later, after ill success, to his former occupation. He spent a year on a large run at Waiuku, and then returned to Canterbury. After working for a few months at Greendale he bought a section of 100 acres since known as Ashton Farm, at Aylesbury, where he now carries on general farming, but pays special attention to the raising of Berkshire pigs. Mr. Smith is a member of the Aylesbury school committee. He was married at Auckland, in 1876, to Miss M. J. Bushell, who had sailed in the same ship to New Zealand, and has five sons and one daughter.