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

Mt. Pleasant

page 46

Mt. Pleasant

Mt. Pleasant was not taken up in one or two large pastoral runs as the other Canterbury stations were, but was made up of a number of small Class I and Class II runs, which were bought and united by Major Alfred Hornbrook in the first few years of the Settlement, so if I had been consistent, I should not have included it. The country took in the whole of the Port Hills between the Heathcote, Sumner, Godley Head, and Lyttelton, and included the Ruapaki Native Reserve. Mt. Pleasant joined Lansdown near Cashmere and Dyer's Pass.

The original homestead and woolshed were on the top of the hill overlooking Sumner, and Hornbrook used to signal from there to Christchurch when ships were coming into Lyttelton Harbour.

Major Hornbrook had served in the British Legion in Spain in 1837. He came to Wellington in the early 'forties, and in 1849 when he heard that the Canterbury Settlers were about to arrive, he moved down to Lyttelton and started the Mitre Hotel. He was also one of the first men to start a station in South Canterbury, where he took up Arowhenua, but like many another enterprising pioneer, he lost most of his money in the end. Mt. Pleasant was a bad station for scab; I suppose it was continually re-infected by sheep landed from Australia.

During his prosperous days, Hornbrook bought Risingholme from the Hon. William Reeves, but sold it back to him in 1870. At the same time he sold Mt. Pleasant to R. M. Morten and W. White, but lived the rest of his life at Opawa. Mrs. Hornbrook had the distinction of being the last woman in Canterbury to wear a crinoline.

Morten and White dissolved partnership in 1879. They put Mt. Pleasant up to auction and both bid for it. Morten bought it at £6 an acre.

As long as the partnership lasted, the sheep were shorn at the old homestead, but when he had bought out his partner, Morten moved the station buildings to page 47where they stand now, just at the Christchurch end of the Lyttelton tunnel.

White was William White who built the bridges over the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers. His son was Leonard White, the very successful sheep and cattle breeder. There is an account of Morten in my note on Ahuriri.

John Weir managed Mt. Pleasant for Morten and his executors until it was sold.

Until 1909 the station consisted of six thousand five hundred acres of freehold, but from 1910 onwards the trustees sold off the land in blocks. One would imagine that managing a station carrying 7000 sheep within ten minutes of Cathedral Square would be as nice a job as a sheepfarmer could want, but Weir told me that fires, worrying dogs, and picnic parties disturbing the lambing ewes made his life a misery, and that he would sooner look after a place in the back country.

Mt. Pleasant has now been divided up into a number of grazing farms, orchards, market gardens, and residential sites. The suburbs Clifton, Scarborough, and that under Mt. Pleasant itself were all parts of it.

The homestead now belongs to J. E. Scott who still shears about 3000 sheep there.