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

Upper Lake Heron — (Runs 175, 314, 328, 386, and 398)

Upper Lake Heron
(Runs 175, 314, 328, 386, and 398)

This station joins Clent Hills at the east side of Lake Heron and takes in the lower country between the lake and the Palmer Range. It also runs from the Cameron and the Lake Stream to the head of the Rakaia. It is usually called the Top Lake, or Big Lake Heron, to distinguish it from Dunbar's station at the eastern end of the lake, which is also called Lake Heron. It was originally worked in two or three separate stations by different owners.

Run 175, the low country round the present homestead and for some way down the Lake Stream, was taken up by Dudley and Leach, the owners of Snowdon, in April, 1857. I described Leach's, Potts's, and Phillips's exploration of it when I wrote about Hakatere. Leach stocked this run and Run 174, which afterwards became part of Clent Hills, with cattle from Snowdon.

I do not know who took up Run 314, which included the hills to the east of Run 175. The earliest owner I can find is Francis Polhill, who had it in 1865, but he was certainly not the first. Run 328 was taken up by Captain Harding on May 2nd, 1860. Run 386 was taken up by G. L. Mellish in August, 1860, and Run 398 by Samuel Butler on February 14th, 1861. Butler did not stock his run, but sold it very soon to H. J. Washbourn, whose homestead was at Washbourn's creek. The lease, however, was not officially transferred until January, 1867. Washbourn had another station on the Selwyn. I think his son lived at Lake Heron.

Dudley and Leach sold their run to Captain Harding in 1860, about the time he took up Run 328. In 1862 page 307Harding also bought Mellish's run. I do not know how long Harding kept the runs, but they all belonged to F. Polhill in 1865, though Washbourn was still working his part of the country.

On May 4th, 1866, Polhill's runs were transferred to the Trust and Agency Company for security, but Polhill, as is shown by the sheep returns, owned the station until 1883, when he sold it to A. E. Merewether, who came from Otago. Merewether was a dentist, I believe, by profession. Polhill had bought out Washbourn some time in the late 'sixties or 'seventies.

Some time in the late 'eighties Dalgety 8c Company took over the station from Merewether (who afterwards lived in Wellington) and they sold it two or three years later to Vernon Musgrave, who had been a partner of Hope's at Richmond in the Mackenzie Country.

I have described most of the early owners elsewhere. G. L. Mellish was born in Jersey in 1834. He was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, and rowed No. 7 in the University boat in 1854 when they beat Cambridge. He then joined the Army and had a commission in the old 44th Regiment in which he served in the trenches before Sebastopol. In 1857 he left the Army and came to Adelaide, where he spent a year, then came on to Canterbury. He had bad luck with his station and I suppose the great snowstorm of 1862 finished him. In 1863 he went to Auckland and joined the 4th Waikato Militia with the rank of captain. He commanded the camp at Onehunga and afterwards Galloway's Redoubt. In 1865 he was appointed resident Magistrate at Picton and in 1868 was transferred to Kaiapoi. On Bowen's resignation in 1874 he became Resident Magistrate in Christchurch, and held this appointment when he died, in December, 1881.

Polhill was born in 1834 and came out to Adelaide as quite a young man, and worked there in the office of his uncle, Henry Gilbert, a lawyer. The Gilberts were among the leading pioneers of South Australia. Polhill came to New Zealand in 1857 and page 308joined Marchant at Double Corner as soon as he arrived. After he sold Lake Heron he rented the Ringwood freehold from Mrs Greenwood, then took another farm near Ashburton. From there he went to Loburn while he managed for Dalgety & Company for some years. When he left Lowburn he retired and lived in Christchurch, and died there in December, 1910.

About 1898 Musgrave sold the station to C. H. Lascelles and went to the Argentine, where he did very well. He died in England about 1928. All the time Musgrave had Lake Heron, William Douglas was his overseer or manager.

Lascelles died a few years after he bought Lake Heron, but his executors worked it until 1917, when they sold it to Montgomery and Todhunter. Louis Wood was manager for Lascelles' executors.

Montgomery and Todhunter dissolved partnership in 1921, when Robert Todhunter, the present owner, took over Lake Heron.