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

Ashfield — (Run 37a)

page 23

(Run 37a)

Ashfield, the station above Coringa on the South bank of the Waimakariri, was taken up in October, 1851, by Charles Church Haslewood for Charles Wedge, and was originally in one run with Tresillian, the next station above it. I have been unable to find out anything about Wedge except that in the electoral rolls of 1856-57 he is described as a gentleman living in Oxford Terrace.* He was probably an Australian friend of Haslewood's. Anyhow he only kept the run a year, selling it to John McLean and Allen R. Macdonald, by an agreement signed at Melbourne in October, 1852.

McLean and Macdonald divided the run at once, McLean taking the eastern part, of about ten thousand acres, where his brother Allan started the Ashfield Station. Although it was in John McLean's name alone, he owned it in partnership with his two brothers, Allan and Robertson McLean. They owned several other stations in Canterbury and Otago together, and it was Allan (the founder of the McLean Institute) who started this station and lived there. A very old hand has written to me that Allan 'lived there with his mother and sisters; the younger sister married George Buckley, and when the mother died, the other sister moved to a house in Durham Street, the house and section now being part of Holly Lea …. When I first stayed at Ashfield there was only a few square yards of garden—no paddocks—the horses being tethered or hobbled. The only servant was a little Chinaman, and Allan McLean milked his own cows. A brother, Robertson, occasionally visited him from Ashburton, and Allan and he would ride into town by the Harewood Road, and were conspicuous a long distance off by their McLean tartan waistcoats.'

I shall give a fuller account of the McLeans when I page 24come to their more important stations, Lagmhor and Waikakahi.

In 1863 the run was nine thousand one hundred acres and was reduced by purchases of freehold in 1865 to seven thousand five hundred.

In 1873 the McLeans sold Ashfield with 3000 sheep for £4000 to Charles Newton and John Tucker Ford.

Ford and Newton, who were leading Christchurch stock and station agents in those days, sold Ashfield after one shearing to William and Henry Clarkson.

The Clarkson brothers lived at the homestead until quite recent years, and were familiar figures on all Canterbury racecourses.

A great deal of freehold was bought out of their run in the 'seventies, and some of it was afterwards taken for the Waimakariri conservation works, so that by 1890 they only had seven hundred and fourteen acres of leasehold left. Up till 1887, however, they shore over 4000 sheep on their freehold and leasehold there.

The old homestead is just by the junction of the Harewood Road and Clarkson's Road.

* A fellow-passenger from England to Perth in 1935, also called Wedge, told me that Wedge was a relation of his and that the family still had many stations in several states of Australia.