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

Bray Down — (Run 22, afterwards re-numbered 181 and 182, Class II)

Bray Down
(Run 22, afterwards re-numbered 181 and 182, Class II)

In the fork of the Hawkins and Selwyn rivers below Waireka, lay another run of about ten thousand acres. I learnt from an early Sheep Return that the owners called it Bray Down, but I never heard old hands page 36speak of it except as Hill and Bray's Station.

It was taken up by William Bailey Bray in December, 1851. Bray had 1400 sheep there in 1856 and 2500 by 1858. Bray's manager was Joseph Hill, who had begun life as a London hatter but must have been a born judge of country. He selected this run, and Springfield on the Ashburton—two of the best natural runs in Canterbury—for Bray, also Avonhead and some land just north of Christchurch, two of the best bits of land near town.

I always thought that Bray took Hill into partnership, as old people always spoke of them as partners and they registered HB (conjoined) as their brand in 1855, but Bray's grandson assures me they were not. I suppose Hill managed the stations for Bray 'on thirds' —quite a usual arrangement in those days.

Bray returned to England in 1859 and sold both stations to Hill for £18,000.

Bray was the first civil engineer to the Provincial Council. He lived at Avonhead. He always prophesied that the Waimakariri would one day break its banks and run through Christchurch:

'At Avonhead lived one Mr Bray
Who every morning used to say
I shouldn't be much surprised to-day
If Christchurch City were swept away.'

pas the Canterbury Rhyme says.

Nothing happened for years, but in February, 1868, Bray returned from England on the very morning of the great flood, when the Waimakariri sent a stream down the Avon and flooded the town. Afterwards Bray went on with his profession in Christchurch and died there in 1885, aged 73.

Hill had to sell his stations in 1866. Edward Reece, the founder of the ironmongery, bought this one. The run included the district now known as Greendale.

After Hill lost his stations he became a butcher in Christchurch, and afterwards bought Avonhead from Bray.

Being good agricultural land, easily prepared for ploughing, and within thirty miles of town, the free-page 37hold of Bray Down was bought up early. By 1868 Reece had only eleven hundred acres of leasehold left. He sold the station in the 'seventies, and after several changs of ownership, most of the old freehold is now in the hands of the Rudd family. The homestead was on the bend of the Waireka River, where it turns into the Selwyn.