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

The Ashburton Station — (Runs 98 and 99)

page 110

The Ashburton Station
(Runs 98 and 99)

These two runs, about twenty-seven thousand acres altogether, were taken up in August, 1853, by Sir Thomas Tancred. They lay next below Winchmore on the north bank of the Ashburton river, and came a mile or two below the present town of Ashburton. They ran out across the plain to somewhere about the present Fairfield Freezing Works. The homestead was opposite the junction of the two branches of the river, about a mile above the railway bridge. The Misses Wright of Windermere live there now.

From 1855 to about 1860 Sir Thomas leased the run and sheep on terms to John Hayhurst, who had been his shepherd at Malvern Hills. Hayhurst increased the sheep from 2000 in 1855 to 5000 in 1858. After Hayhurst left, Thomas Moorhouse, a brother of the superintendent, managed the station for a time and then took it on terms. Sir Thomas took the Rev. J. C. Allen into partnership and Run 98 was held in his name. Allen never came out to New Zealand. I have been told that Henry Tancred also had a share in the station.

During the 'seventies, H. T. Winter, afterwards station superintendent for the Loan and Mercantile, managed the Ashburton for Tancred and Allen. About 1875 the owners told him to value the station and he valued the run with the sheep and about two thousand acres of freehold at £14,000.

Two years afterwards Winter went to Tasmania for a holiday, leaving the run almost intact. He came back to find that land buying had begun and that almost all the run except the pre-emptives had gone. He advised the owners to sell the freehold in sections which they did with such excellent results that the land and sheep between them fetched £80,000. Both the owners were in England during most of the time Winter was manager, and William Wilson and George Allen Reade held their power of attorney; afterwards Reade alone. Reade had been a cadet at Malvern page 111Hills and was afterwards Receiver of Land Revenue for the Canterbury Provincial Government. Wilson was the first Mayor of Christchurch and a member of the Provincial Council. He was always known as 'Cabbage' Wilson, because he kept a nursery garden. He used to run a flock of turkeys on the Ashburton which seemed to annoy Winter.