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

Mt. Fourpeaks — (Runs 240 and 255)

page 161

Mt. Fourpeaks
(Runs 240 and 255)

In its later days Fourpeaks, as it is usually called, took in the country between the two branches of the Hae Hae te Moana and ran back to the Devil's Creek, where it joined Clayton, but at one time it ran right to the Opuha. It was taken up by J. C. and C. C. Aikman in J. C. Aikman's name before 1857, and was numbered under the Canterbury Regulations in February and May, 1858.

The Aikman brothers sold the station to J. D. Lance, afterwards of Horsley Down, in October, 1860. The Aikmans had a wharf on the Heathcote before the railway was made, when goods came by craft from Lyttelton over the Sumner bar. J. C. Aikman afterwards became an auctioneer, his place of business being on the site of what is now Ballantyne's buildings. He was one of the earliest lieutenants of the C.Y.C. After selling Fourpeaks, he lived up to the time of his death at the end of Aikman's Road, which was named after him.

Lance sold Mt. Fourpeaks about 1861 to the Walker brothers, Lancelot and Sherbroke, with whom Captain Edward Louis Clogstoun entered into partnership. The Walkers had been in partnership with Dr Mallock at Horsley Down, and I think Lance took their share of Horsley Down in payment for Fourpeaks.

In 1863 Walker and Clogstoun bought Clayton from page 162Kennaway, Lee and Acton, who had had a knock in the '62 winter, and for years the two places were worked together and carried 40,000 sheep. For a time in the 'sixties they let the station and sheep to Charles Harper and G. A. E. Ross, who also had Waireka and Lake Coleridge, but the 1867 winter ruined them, and Walker and Clogstoun had to take it back. Their overseer at Clayton until 1864 was E. G. Griffiths. Griffiths was afterwards a great breeder and owner of thoroughbreds. He had Betrayer, with whom he won the Canterbury Cup, and other good horses, and was an early steward of the Canterbury Jockey Club. After he lost his money he became editor of the N.Z. Referee.

Sherbrooke Walker died in 1873, and Captain Clogstoun in 1881. Lancelot Walker then sold Clayton to Hugh Hamilton, an old New South Wales pioneer squatter, whose family kept it until 1919. At the same time Walker sold the high country (the actual hills called Mt. Fourpeaks) to Tripp, of Orari Gorge.

Lancelot Walker was one of the last life members of the Legislative Council, and also sat in the old Provincial Council. He had been a subaltern in the Hon. East India Company's Army and left in disgust at not seeing service, a few years before the Indian Mutiny broke out. He was famed for his caustic speeches and haughty appearance. He was a keen sportsman, and during the good times ran several horses, some of his own and some in partnership with G. G. Stead under the name of ' Mr Frazer.' I suppose Trump Card and Le Loup were about the best he owned. He also deserves the credit of importing Traducer, whom he placed on board a ship in wr hich he was returning from England, but, the weather being very bad and the horse not feeding, Walker thought he would die, and proposed to land him at the Cape. Innes, of Waikakahi Station, who was on board, however, offered to buy him for himself and his partner Harris, and in the Stud Book they are shown as his importers. The deal also included another horse called Leotard, a draught stallion called King Fergus, besides Mermaid and several other brood mares.

page 163

A good story of one of the Walkers is told by Laurence Kennaway in Crusts. The Walkers had a hut at the back of their run on the Clayton flat. Clayton at the time belonged to the Kennaways. From their station the Clayton people saw that this hut was on fire, and galloped over to give what help they could. When they arrived, at first they could see no one about, but presently Walker emerged from behind the smoke and offered them breakfast. He had been camping by himself, and on the fire breaking out, had saved what he could, and then calmly sat down to cook his breakfast on the smouldering ruins.

Lancelot Walker died at Mt. Fourpeaks in 1906, and his executors went on with the station until 1912, when they sold it to the Government for closer settlement. In its last days it carried 8,000 sheep.

Walker had more managers probably than anyone else in Canterbury. Thomas Bellett was the first. He left in 1868 and was succeeded by Talbot Scott who did not like the hills and left in a few weeks, and afterwards went to manage a coffee plantation in India. Lachlan Macpherson came next and was there for many years. Afterwards came Geoffrey Potts, who was there in 1877 and was succeeded by W. R. O'Connell in 1879, William Polhill, Arthur Reeves (now Law Librarian in Ghristchurch), A. Preston, A. Campbell, J. Maling (now of Pyne, Gould, Guinness), and L. R. Corsbie, afterwards auctioneer for the Loan and Mercantile.

After Walker's death his executors appointed R. T. Richards, who managed the place until it was sold.

Mention must also be made of Alexander Frazer, who was head shepherd at Fourpeaks for over forty years.

The old station diary is preserved in the Museum, It covers the years from 1868 to 1875, and was written by whichever partner happened to be on the station, or by Lachie Macpherson when none of them were there.

It is not so interesting as it should be. In those days musterers were paid six shillings a day and harvesters ten, the bullock driver twenty-five shillings a week and general hands and the cook a pound. The cook had to page 164kill and work in the garden. In 1869 the shepherds had their wages reduced from £75 to £65 a year. Fat wethers only fetched six or seven shillings a head in those days.

They sold the ten working bullocks for £140 to John Grigg for the Coast in 1869, and afterwards used horses. In 1868 Strawberry, one of the pole-bullocks, died after working ten years and seven months on the station.