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

Dalethorpe — (Runs 23 and 151)

(Runs 23 and 151)

Dalethorpe, which is one of the oldest stations in Mid-Canterbury, lies on the north bank of the Selwyn, behind Homebush, and originally ran back to the Thirteen Mile Bush and to the south branch of the Kowai, but did not take in the flat between the foot of the downs and the Waimakariri River. It contained nearly twenty-two thousand acres. It was originally stocked by the Deans brothers, of Riccarton, in 1850, or very early in 1851, before the runs were allotted. At that time, Godley, the Canterbury Association's New Zealand agent, was very much against letting the 'waste lands' in large areas, but the Deanses, seeing how slowly the Association was selling land in the province, felt sure that Godley would have to sanction squatting on the unsold lands before long, so they took the risk and sent sheep to the north end of the Malvern Hills. Soon afterwards they got into a law suit with the Association over their title to Riccarton, and to raise money to fight the case, they sold the station now page 228called Dalethorpe to J. C. Watts Russell, the richest of the Canterbury Pilgrims. Lieut. Dugald Macfarlane acted for Watts Russell. The present John Deans still has the agreement for sale and purchase. The sale included 550 ewes at 25/-, 550 at 22/6, and 450 at £1, 600 lambs at 12/-, and 11 rams at £7 a head. The house and sheep-pen were sold for £80.

The Deanses' and Watts Russell's enterprise was justified, as Run 23, of sixteen thousand seven hundred acres, was allotted to Watts Russell in August, 1851. The Deanses had called the station Morven. It is by confusion with the Malvern Hills in England that our Malvern Hills got their name. For the first few years Watts Russell called it Birchwood, but some time before 1860 he named it Dalethorpe, after a family property at Home.

The Canterbury Pilgrims, unlike the 'Prophets' from Australia, were farmers rather than shepherds, and in an early letter to the Association, Godley speaks of Watts Russell as the only one of their settlers to have as yet got properly established in the business of sheep-farming. A return of 1854 shows that Birchwood, owned by Watts Russell and managed by A. R. Creyke, had already 2524 sheep on it, and three years later it was carrying 6630.

For five years from 1855 part of the run and sheep were let on thirds to a man named Thomas, 'an Exeter man a brother of the tallow chandler,'which is all I was ever able to hear about him. He may have been the same Thomas who afterwards managed Easedale Nook for Lieutenant Deane.

On 28th July, 1855, Henry John Tancred, of Malvern Hills Station (known as 'Herr' Tancred—he had been in the Austrian Army) took up Run 151, of five thousand acres, between Watts Russell and the Kowai. Watts Russell bought him out at once, before he had stocked it.

Watts Russell was one of those who introduced rabbits to Canterbury. He cleared and ploughed five acres and sowed it in buckwheat, to turn them out on.

page 229

Talbot Scott was a cadet of Watts Russell's at Dalethorpe.

In June, 1866, Watts Russell sold the station to Douglas, Parker, and Walker.

Watts Russell was an easy-going sort of man who had been in the Army. He was the first chairman of the Canterbury Jockey Club. He lived at Ham (which was a farm in those days), and left the management of his stations to his friend and partner, A. R. Creyke, who was anything but easy-going. Russell's Flat was on the run and is, of course, named after him. He died in March, 1875.

Of the new owners of Dalethorpe, Thomas Coleman Douglas was the principal and, at first, the managing partner. Edwin Barker Walker lived at View Hill, which also belonged to him. I do not know who Richard Parker was.

Douglas, Parker, and Walker sold the station to George Rutherford, jun., in March, 1874. Rutherford built the woolshed at Dalethorpe. Until his time the sheep had been shorn at Ayresdale, near Springfield, which was then known as Easedale Nook.

In 1889, when the Midland Railway Company sold the land granted to them, the Dalethorpe runs were part of their area, and Rutherford was able to make all his run country into freehold.

For many years he also owned Highpeak Station, and for some time Benmore, which he used as wether country for Dalethorpe. In 1911 he sold Dalethorpe with 12,000 sheep after having it nearly forty years, and retired to live at Springbank, near the Cust. A syndicate bought Dalethorpe and did very well by subdividing it. The homestead block, after passing through one or two hands, now belongs to Hubert Reed, of Darfield. The station now carries about 3000 sheep.