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

Benmore — (Runs 230 and 258)

page 237

(Runs 230 and 258)

Benmore lies on the south side of Porter's Pass and runs back to Lake Lyndon. It joins both Highpeak and the Black Hills of Snowdon.

The homestead, of which almost all trace has disappeared now, was on the old Porter's Pass Road in the gully just below the ruins of the old hotel, near where the new road turns off to go up the spur.

It was taken up in two runs of about ten thousand acres altogether, Run 230 in December, 18.57, and Run 258 in May, 1858, by Archibald Macfarlane, son of Macfarlane of Ledard. His brother-in-law, Dr. Coward, may have had a share in it, but Macfarlane lived there and managed it.

Macfarlane sold it to Richard Dunn Thomas in the early 60's. Thomas was a nephew of Dr. Barker, who had taken up Lake Coleridge a year or two before. Thomas transferred Benmore to Robert Constable Maxwell in October, 1865. He then became a lawyer and practised for many years in Christchurch in partnership with T. I. Joynt.

The leases remained in Maxwell's name until 8th May, 1873, but he sold the station about 1866 (probably when he bought Racecourse Hill) to Elliot and Jackson, two very wild young men. Adam Jackson was a brother of Julian Jackson, Murray-Aynsley's manager at Mt. Hutt, and had, himself, been manager of Hakataramea for Lockhart. Elliot and Jackson sold to James Elliott Thomson in 1871. Elliot started for England, but was killed in a gambling row in 'Frisco on his way. He was one of those gentlemanly ne'er-dowells whom Lady Barker speaks of trying to reform. Jackson also left New Zealand, having disposed of the last wool clip in a manner very satisfactory to himself.

Thomson, who with his brothers had previously lost the Otaio Station, did well at Benmore and sold to Hommersham Brothers about 1873. He afterwards had the Carleton Station near Oxford, and Akiteo in the North Island. I cannot find anything about the Hom-page 238mersham Brothers. They may have been James and Flacton Hommersham who had Deepdene near Leithfield in the early days. In their time the leases were held in the name of Orfeur George Parker, who found them money. Parker was an enterprising storekeeper at Springfield who financed miners, sawmillers and farmers in those days.

Matthew Weir bought Benmore in October, 1876. He was an old Scotch shepherd. He sold the station to George Rutherford, of Dalethorpe, in 1884. Pie was a brother of old James Weir who had the grazing of Hagley Park, where he lived in a hut on wheels.

Rutherford used Benmore as wether country for Dalethorpe, where he shore the sheep. He found that he used to lose hundreds of them when he drove them over Porter's Pass off the shears if he had bad weather. He adopted a plan which I never heard of being tried anywhere else, and he found it quite successful. Directly the Benmore sheep were shorn he swam them through the dip which was filled with plain water. After that he had no losses off the shears, so it seems as if a shorn sheep once wet through and dried again will stand anything.

When George Rutherford came down from Leslie Hills to take over Dalethorpe, he brought a Scotch shepherd called Alexander Kennedy with him. Kennedy managed Benmore all the time Rutherford had it. He was a brother to Angus Kennedy, long manager of Esk Head for Dampier-Crossley, and afterwards part-owner of it for his lifetime.

Alec. Kennedy had a property near Albury after leaving Benmore. These Kennedys were sons of an old Scotch shepherd of Hugh Buchanan's at Kinlock. Buchanan would not let his men use dogs near the yards, and one day when some sheep were hard to get in he told Kennedy to run. Kennedy replied, 'Na Na, I'll nae rin. Ye can rin yoursel'.'

About 1895, Rutherford sold Benmore to Dugald Matheson and Son, who at that time also had Grass-dale adjoining it, and since then the two have been page 239worked as one, and the old Benmore homestead abandoned.

Benmore was not a good station by itself. Grassdale has been the making of it.