Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series

Stonyhurst — (Run 4 N.Z.R.; in October, 1864, it was brought under the Canterbury Regulations and numbered 448, and later renumbered 558)

(Run 4 N.Z.R.; in October, 1864, it was brought under the Canterbury Regulations and numbered 448, and later renumbered 558)

Stonyhurst was originally fifty-eight thousand six hundred acres. It was a triangular piece of country page 258running from the sea up the Hurunui to a point about five miles below the junction of the Pahau. The boundary came from there back to Davaar Homestead (where the old boundary-keeper's hut is still standing), over the hill, and down Boundary Gully to the sea again. The original lease included the whole of what was afterwards Greta Peaks, the whole of what is now Happy Valley, and a large part of Davaar.

Stonyhurst is another of the stations in Canterbury which still belongs to the descendants of an original owner. Charles (afterwards Sir Charles) Clifford and Frederick (afterwards Sir Frederick) Weld first applied for it on 26th December, 1850. At that time they were, with the possible exception of C. R. Bidwill, of the Wairarapa, the two most experienced sheepfarmers in New Zealand.

In 1843 they and Vavasour had taken sheep into the Wairarapa about a month after Bidwill took in the first mob; and in 1848 they brought sheep down to Flaxbourne. In 1851 Weld wrote a capital pamphlet, Hints to Intending Sheepfarmers in New Zealand, which went through four editions.

They did not get sheep on to Stonyhurst until 1852. At that time Clifford was attending to business and politics in Wellington, while Weld looked after Flax-bourne. Weld sent the first sheep to stock Stonyhurst late in 1851, but when the people in charge got them safely within two days' drive of the run, they abandoned them for the extraordinary reason that they had run out of tucker. Less than half the sheep were ever found again.

However, Weld sent Alphonso Clifford (Charles Clifford's younger brother) down with another mob which arrived safely, as the following extracts from the Lyttelton Times show:

'Mr A. Clifford has succeeded in driving about 1500 ewes from the Wairau district, only losing one on the road. Two other parties of " over-landers " are reported to be close on his heels.' (27th March, 1852). 'Mr A. Clifford drove his flock from Cape Campbell along page 259the coast, until he had passed the Kaikora [sic] mountains …' (10th April, 1852.)

Alphonso Clifford afterwards had a rim on the Waitaki, but sold it in the middle 'fifties and returned to England where he died in 1898.

The first homestead at Stonyhurst was on the Blythe where the dip is now, but it was moved to the present site after three or four years. In those days, of course, there was no road in to the station, and all wool and stores were shipped and landed at the beach. There is no shelter at the mouth of the Blythe, and the new site was chosen for the quieter water there

In 1860 Charles Clifford went home to live in England, where he died in 1893.

Weld supervied the firm's stations, living chiefly at Brackenfield, North Canterbury, but in 1870 he sold out his interest in Stonyhurst to his partner and joined the Colonial Office, retaining his interest in Flaxbourne, however, until 1897. He became successively Governor of Western Australia and of the Federated Malay States. Both he and Clifford had been distinguished in New Zealand politics in the early days. Clifford was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1854 until he left the colony, and Weld was Prime Minister in 1864-5.

In 1863 Clifford and Weld sold the lease of all the country, roughly twenty-four thousand five hundred acres, which lay to the west of the Greta. Sanderson and Studholme bought it and formed the Greta Peaks Station.

After Weld left New Zealand, Clifford appointed William Hyde Harris, of Waikakahi, to supervise both Flaxbourne and Stonyhurst. Harris was a great horseman and somewhat reckless in other ways. A part of Stonyhurst is still called 'Harris's Fall,' because he fell off his horse there and was supposed to have been killed. He was brought home as dead, but was found to be pretty right next morning.

In 1871, when it became necessary to buy the freehold to protect the run, Sir Charles Clifford sent out his son, the late Sir George Clifford, to take charge of page 260Flaxbourne and Stonyhurst. He secured twenty-five thousand acres of Stonyhurst which his father afterwards made over to him.

Since then the greater part of it has been sold, but what remains grows some of the best wool in Canterbury, and will always be interesting as the home of the Stonyhurst thoroughbred stud, and of what I believe is the only pure Tasmanian merino stud flock in the province.

Of the early managers, a man named Lovegrove was the first. He was there in 1854. Robert Boys was the next. He was there from 1859 to 1865. Boys was proud of an accomplishment he had. He used to put a shilling on the toe of his boot and then shoot it off with a pistol. After Boys came H. Westmacott, who died in Timaru about 1927. F. D. Dennis followed Westmacott, then H. Scrope, now of Danby, in Yorkshire, then Archibald McAdam managed for many years, until the owner's son, C. L. Clifford, took over the management after the 1914-18 War.

Stonyhurst has always been a great place for wild pigs. In 1878 P. Goldin', one of the shepherds, took a pig-killing contract, and from 1st January to 31st August was paid for 1202 snouts. In 1879 he killed 1322. That was at the beginning of the bad times, when work was hard to get, as the following entry in the station diary shows:—'30th October [the manager had been out mustering for shearing] …self to station. Found 72 swaggers waiting for work.' The shearers were engaged at 16/8 a hundred, but the diary does not say what the shed hands got, except that two of them engaged to work for their tucker.

They kept a station bullock team at Stonyhurst until 1885. Bullock teams gradually went out of general use after about 1870, though they kept one at Mt. Peel until 1892 for carting firewood, and George Murray had one at Glentanner as late as 1905. This was, I think, the last station bullock team in Canterbury.

The original owners named Stonyhurst after their school in Lancashire, on which Pendle Hill looks down, just as the New Zealand Pendle Hill looks down on page 261Stonyhurst Station. Scargill, and the Greta, the Blythe, and the Chaldons are all named after places and rivers near the Yorkshire homes of the Clifford and Weld families.