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

The Springs Station — (Runs 18, 134, and later, 111. Runs 18 and 134 were afterwards united and numbered 120 Class II, 111 became 143 Class II)

The Springs Station
(Runs 18, 134, and later, 111. Runs 18 and 134 were afterwards united and numbered 120 Class II, 111 became 143 Class II)

The Springs Station ran from Broadlands to the mouth of the Selwyn, from there through the present page 40Ladbrooks Railway Station, and across the Main South Road beyond which it joined Coringa and other stations on the Waimakariri. It took in what are now Rolleston and Weedons. The cattle used to stray right across to the Waimakariri.

The old homestead, still called The Springs Farm, is just behind Lincoln College.

Run 18, of five thousand acres, was taken up in 1852 by Charles Robert Blakiston, who stocked it with 6 rams and 250 ewes.

FitzGerald, Harman and Davie took up Run 134 of nine thousand acres, also in 1852. At least as early as 1854 FitzGerald bought out his two partners and also bought Run 18 from Blakiston.

Field Brothers, Strickland and James Field, took up Run 111 in August, 1853. During their tenure, the Fields did not have any regular station on the run, but worked it from Christchurch or from a section they had near Templeton, sometimes buying sheep or cattle to run on it, and at other times stocking it with sheep on terms. Theirs was the country round Rolleston and Weedons. They sold it to FitzGerald about 1858.

After selling Run 18 Blakiston took up a run on the Orari, which he never stocked. Blakiston was a younger son of a baronet in England and was born in 1825. He went out to the Australian goldfields as a young man and came on to Canterbury in 1851 with the Macdonalds of Orari, with whom he had made friends in Melbourne. He brought a mare and foal over with him and exchanged them for a section in Hereford Street beginning at Colombo Street and taking in the land where the Bank of New South Wales is now. It would be worth a lot of money today, but Blakiston wanted ready money when he married so he sold it for a hundred pounds. He managed the Trust and Agency Company in Christchurch for many years and was a member of the old Provincial Council and an early M.L.C. He died in 1898. One of his sons managed Orari Gorge for many years.

Harman and Davie afterwards had a run on the other side of the Selwyn, and I shall give an account of page 41them when I come to it.

I have never been able to find out where the Fields came from or what happened to them after they sold their run, except that one of them afterwards had a farm at Oxford and died in Christchurch, and that the other died in Australia early in this century.

FitzGerald [1818—1896] who was a brilliant speaker and writer, had been a clerk in the British Museum before he came to New Zealand. He was the first of the Canterbury Pilgrims actually to land in Lyttelton, the first Superintendent of the Province, and the first Premier of New Zealand, though he failed to form a Government. There is a memoir of him written by Sir Robert Stout in the first edition of Who's Who in New Zealand, and one by W. P. Reeves in the Dictionary of National Biography.

FitzGerald worked the Springs as a cattle and dairy station. In 1857 he took Percy Cox, who had been a cadet at Double Corner, into partnership. The firm also owned Longbeach Station where they ran their young cattle. Cox took up the management of the stations, but while he was in England in 1861-1862, FitzGerald again took charge. While he lived at the Springs FitzGerald used to drive himself in a strange looking dog-cart with extremely high wheels, known to all and sundry as 'the circulating medium,' usually with a tandem, sometimes with two leaders, and it was always considered fortunate if he got from Christchurch to the Springs without an accident. George Draper, FitzGerald's brother-in-law, lived at the Springs as overseer and had a small interest in both stations.

Their head stockman was a man named White who had been a navvy in the Crimean War. He afterwards became a warder at Sunnyside and was killed by a lunatic. Their head dairyman was G. A. Smith, afterwards a well known farmer at Lincoln, and known as 'Gully' Smith. He and Pearson, the agricultural foreman, both stayed until the station was sold.

They milked between 50 and 60 cows. Old-time prices are always interesting. In the 'fifties and early page 42'sixties they got 2/-a pound for their butter, 10d for cheese, and 1/6 for stilton cheese.

In 1859 Hunter Brown, who had recently sold Double Corner, joined the firm, which was thenceforward known as Brown, Cox and Co., though FitzGerald still kept his interest in it. FitzGerald had just been commissioned by Robert Campbell to buy or take up a group of runs, and he took Brown into partnership because he wanted to get the benefit of Brown's great ability and experience in squatting. I do not know whether FitzGerald and Brown did eventually select Robert Campbell and Sons' stations, but except Station Peak, they were all in Otago or Southland.

Brown, Cox and Co. imported several pedigree shorthorn bulls from England, but had bad luck with them. One died the day he reached Lyttelton, one drowned himself in a swamp, and one killed a dairy hand.

Some of the Springs country was very light and some was quaking bog, so until about the beginning of 1862 not much land was bought out of the run by settlers. When settlers did begin to come, however, they came very fast, and so by the beginning of 1863 nearly all the run had gone except the pre-emptives, so Brown, Cox and Co. decided to sell out. The town of Lincoln, by the way, had been part of their freehold and was laid out and sold in sections by FitzGerald.

They sold off the cattle first, then sold the freehold— about three thousand acres, of which Lincoln College farm is a part—to J. Roberts, for £5 an acre with about two thousand acres of pre-emptive rights given in.

Charles Percy Cox was born in 1835 and came of a military family. His father was a captain in the 1st Life Guards and fought at Waterloo. Percy Cox came to New Zealand in 1853 and was a cadet with Hunter Brown at Double Corner for two years. After he left the Springs he bought the Mt. Somers Station which he sold in 1877. He afterwards lived in Christchurch until his death in 1925, aged ninety years and ten months. He had a wonderful memory, and wrote a very readable pamphlet of reminiscences. I have given an account of Hunter Brown's career under page 43Double Corner.

Roberts did not keep the Springs long, but he still had fifteen hundred acres of pre-emptive rights attached to his freehold in 1865.

C. Newton bought the Fields' old run which had become 143 Class II.