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

Wharfedale — (Runs 21, 169 and 170)

(Runs 21, 169 and 170)

Wharfedale took in all the flat country, about ten thousand acres, between the Ashley River and the Whistler; and all the hill country in Lees Valley facing north and west, from Oxford Hill to within two miles of the Okuku. The eastern boundary was the Harewood Forest Reserve. A small run, later known as 'O' Halloran's Country,' joined the northern end of Wharfdale and was for many years worked with it.

Run 21, of twenty-three thousand seven hundred acres, was taken up in May, 1856, by Lee Brothers, who named the station after Wharfedale in Yorkshire. In April, 1857, they took up Runs 169 and 170, each of five thousand acres.

George William Henry Lee was the chief partner and bought out his brother soon after the station was started. He lived on his other station, the Warren, and in his time the Wharfedale sheep were always shorn at the Warren. He was a keen racing man, and in his younger days a good horseman, and was generally known as 'Jockey' Lee. Samuel Coleman was his manager at Wharfedale. In those days the only way in was over Blowhard, and in bad winters all communication was cut off for two or three months. page 254Nevertheless Coleman took his wife and young family in there to live, and some of his children were born there. Wharfedale was used as a cattle station until the late 'sixties.

Lee thought he had the whole of the Upper Ashley Valley to himself, but in 1876 or 1877 the Honourable Edward Richardson—possibly in partnership with H. de Bourbel, who lived up there as supervisor—began applying for small sections of the run, and crowding sheep on to them, so that Lee had either to starve his stock or go to the expense of fencing. I have already described Richardson's driving Knowles out of Glentui by attacking him in the same way. Lee sold Wharfedale to Richardson, and for many years afterwards the station was worked as part of Glentui.

When Richardson and Co. bought Wharfedale they extended the Glentui Forest Road by a pack track (Richardson's Track) to join the Blowhard, and so brought Wharfedale within easy reach of Glentui, where the sheep (fully 26,000) were shorn. The owners went in for a progressive policy and had a dray, plough and chaffcutter hauled by bullocks and horses and men to Blowhard, and lowered into the valley. They bought a great deal of freehold and grew oats and turnips there. One cultivated part is still called 'De Bourbel's,' but has been corrupted to 'Debobbles' in the course of years—at least that is how the present occupier brands his wool.

At some time in the late 'eighties, the Bank of New Zealand took both Wharfedale and Glentui over from Richardson. In 1891 the Bank handed them over with other stations to the Bank of New Zealand Assets Realisation Board. The Bank sold Wharfedale and Glentui in 1899, when John O'Halloran, their manager, bought Glentui. W. Vincent bought Wharfedale and held it until 1906, when he sold to Hugh Ensor, with about 6000 sheep.

De Bourbel, Richardson's supervisor, had been a subaltern in a Hussar Regiment and fought in the Crimea. He missed the Charge of the Light Brigade page 255as he was in bed with a sprained ankle. After Richardson's collapse, he started as a stock agent in Christchurch but did no good, and went to Tauranga where he died in very poor circumstances sometime after 1900. In his Canterbury days he was always very smartly dressed and was sometimes called Count de Bourbel. It was probably a genuine title, as I see there is a noble French family of the name which was naturalized in England in 1797.

Ensor kept the station until the Crown leases expired in 1917, when the Government bought back the freehold sections, pooled them with the leasehold, and subdivided the whole amongst returned soldiers.

The old homestead, which during the past seventy years has given rest and shelter to many a weary traveller, now belongs to W. B. Starky.