The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series
Oakleigh — (Run 101)
Oakleigh, the next run on the Rakaia below Heslerton, was taken up in August, 1853, by the Rev. J. Raven, a relation of Hilton's. The run was of twenty thousand acres and went back to the great swamp. About 1855 Raven leased Oakleigh with the sheep to Edward Chapman who also owned Acton Station on the other side of the Rakaia, and about 1858 he sold it with about 2500 sheep to Edwin H. Fereday. Raven afterwards bought Ravenswood, a freehold of eleven hundred acres near Woodend.
Raven was born at Croydon in 1821. His father was a stock broker. J. Raven was educated at Shrewsbury School and Caius College, Cambridge. He rowed for Cambridge against Oxford in 1844—the lightest man (8st. 13lbs.) who ever rowed in either boat. He was ordained and was vicar of Broughton Ashly for four years before coming to Canterbury in 1851. I believe he came out understanding he was to be a Canon of the Cathedral, but finding that the Cathedral only existed on paper, took his own line of combining farming with part-time duty. He took to colonial life at once. He became competent to do all the practical work with stock and was soon considered as a man whose opinion on farming and station property was worth having. He imported his own sheep from Aus-page 90tralia and he and T. K. Adams, his manager, started off one day with a shepherd, John Walker, from Lyttelton to take a newly landed mob to Oakleigh. They left Walker to watch them a night on the Bridle Path and went back to sleep at Lyttelton. It came on to rain so Walker moved the sheep down the hill to shelter and got 70 of them tooted.
Early in 1864 Raven returned with his family to England where he held livings until 1872 when his wife having died, he and six daughters came to New Zealand again. During this visit he bought more land here. He stayed a year and a-half then went back to England, being wrecked in the S.S. Tartar on the way. He died at Worthing in Sussex in August, 1886. His first wife, a sister of Dean Hole, wrote several of the Canterbury Rhymes.
Fereday also had Racecourse Hill Station on the Waimakariri, and as I said when writing of Racecourse Hill, the strain of riding backwards and forwards over the dreary plain between the two stations was too much for him. He, or his executors, sold Oakleigh to Charles Hurst in 1866. Hurst was a Yorkshire man who had managed a station in Victoria from 1849 till 1857, when he came to New Zealand. He also owned Valetta on the Ashburton.
In 1871 Hurst began to change the flock from merino to halfbred, and for a few years he let Oakleigh with the sheep to Thomas Dowling, a relation of his.
In 1900 Hurst sold the station with 4000 sheep to Dowling, and Dowling sold it early in 1910 to E. A. Broughton who began selling the land in 1927. In 1929 he sold the homestead and about two thousand two hundred acres, carrying 2000 ewes, to the Canterbury Seed Company. In January 1945 the company sold about eight hundred acres of their land, and in April 1945 A. Nimmo, of Dunedin, bought the rest of it.
At one time Fereday tried rabbit breeding on a small island in the Rakaia, without much success financially.