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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]


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Sydenham, which adjoins the city of Christchurch, has the distinction of being the largest borough in the colony, outside of the four chief centres. Originally, it formed a part of the Heathcote and Spreydon road districts. But on the 20th of September, 1877, it was raised to the dignity of a borough, with a full complement of municipal officials, and a population of between 5000 and 6000. At the end of twenty-five years of vigorous and healthy life, it now has a population of 12,000. The first Mayor was the late Mr G. Booth, father of Mr G. T. Booth, who has also occupied the mayoral chair. The borough comprises 1100 acres, and contains 2470 dwellings, and about sixty other buildings. The ratepayers number 2009; the ratable properties, 2449. The ratable value of these properties is £799,465, and the unimproved value, £247,924. There are twenty-six miles of streets and six miles of boundary roads. The total revenue for the year ending the 31st March, 1902, was—exclusive of about £2500, collected for the Drainage Board, the Waimakariri River Board, and the Charitable Aid and Hospital Boards—£7980. The expenditure, including loan money, was £2192. The net public debt is now (1902) £25,825, at 5 per cent, borrowed for street improvements; but loans of £10,000 for public works, and £15,000 for water works, were recently authorised by the ratepayers. The borough is lighted by ninety-five gas lamps supplied by the Christchurch Gas Company. Water is obtained by means of artesian wells, and a scheme for a high pressure system has been authorised by the ratepayers. The rates are a general rate of 3 1/4d in the pound on the unimproved value; a special rate of 51–64ths of a penny on the unimproved value; a hospital and charitable aid rate of one-eighth of a penny on the capital value; a Waimakariri rate of one-tenth of a penny on the unimproved value; and drainage rates of 3/4d in the sewage area on the capital value, and 3/4d on the unimproved in the rural area. A tramway runs down Colombo Street, the main thoroughfare, from one end of the borough to the other, to the foot of the Port Hills, and also on the Lincoln road. The borough had constructed in Christchurch recently a chemical fire engine, the first of its kind made in New Zealand, and perhaps the first made in Australasia. Sydenham's endowments consist of a reserve of 1200 acres at Cairnbrae, which produces an annual income of £500, a section of 200 acres of sandhills, a public library reserve, and several other small sections.

The Sydenham Borough Council for 1902 consists of Mr J. B. Sim (mayor), and Messrs N. K. Bowden, W. Johnson, and A. T. Smith, representing Addington ward; J. Forrester, W. (Miller and A. H. Webb, for Newton ward; J. Hadfield, E. Jones, and G. W. J. Parsons for Waltham ward; and A. Clifford, A. McMeekan, and John Taylor for East ward. The staff consists of Messrs C. Allison (town clerk and surveyor), R. G. Metcalfe (clerk), B. Throp (collector), and R. McGonagle (foreman of works). The council chambers were formerly situated in Bowen Street, but new offices and a fire brigade station are now (1902) in course of erection in Colombo Street.

His Worship The Mayor, Mr. James Buchan Sim, J.P., was first elected to the Sydenham Borough Council in 1897, and held a seat continuously until his election as mayor on the 30th of April, 1902. In 1896 Mr. Sim was appointed a Justice of the Peace. Ever since his arrival in the colony, he has taken a lively interest in politics, and has generally supported the policy of the present Government. He has been a member of the Waltham school committee since 1892, and its chairman since 1896. Mr. Sim is a native of Fraserburg, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where he received his education, and served an apprenticeship as a cooper, and worked at his trade up to the time of his leaving for New Zealand. He landed in Lyttelton from the s.s. “Aorangi” in 1885. Mr. Sim was married in Christchurch, and his two sons and three daughters.

Mr. J. B. Sim.

Mr. J. B. Sim.

Councillor Nicholas Knight Bowden, J.P., of the Sydenham Borough Council, was for six years and a half continuously a member of the council. In 1897 he was elected mayor, and retired on the completion of his term of office, but re-entered the council in 1901. Mr. Bowden was born in the parish of Luxulyan, Cornwall, England, on the 31st off January, 1837, and went to work at an early age in the copper mines of Cornwall. In March, 1862, he arrived in Auckland, and tried his fortune on the goldfields of that province. Later on he made a similar effort in the Dunstan district of Otago. Not being successful, he removed to Lyttelton, where he worked at the railway tunnel and was the first man to go through it. He was afterwards in business in Colombo Street, Christchurch, and Lincoln Road, Addington, but retired in 1901, in favour of his son.

Councillor Walter Johnson was first elected to the Sydenham Borough Council in 1894, and was re-elected in 1899 and 1901. He is chairman of the cemetery committee, and is also a member of the fire prevention committee. During his active career as a councillor he has taken part in all progressive movements, and was a consistent supporter of the high pressure water scheme. Mr. Johnson was born in Brecon, Wales, and arrived with his parents in New Zealand in 1858, by the ship “Zealandia.” He was educated at the Old Boys' High School, Lincoln Road, and joined the Government service in 1894, page 381 and is now in the Deeds Registry Department. Mr Johnson has been connected with various corps of the Christchurch volunteers for over seventeen years. At the age of twelve he joined the cadets, of which he was captain for seven years, and was afterwards lieutenant of the Sydenham Rifles, captain of the Woolston Rifles, and adjutant for the Christchurch district. In athletic circles he is also well known, and for the past four years he has been inter-club handicapper for the Canterbury Amateur Swimming Association. Hockey in Christchurch owes much of its popularity to his untiring efforts. He was one of the first enthusiasts in the game, and is now President of the Referees' Association and referee for the hockey clubs affiliated to the Canterbury Association, of which he is also a vice-president. Rowing has also received much of his attention, he having taken an active part in that sport for many years. Mr. Johnson was presented with the Royal Humane Society's medal and certificate for saving life in the Napier Harbour in 1895. He has been a contributor of articles on athletics to the “Weekly Press and “Canterbury Times” for several years. In educational matters Mr. Johnson has taken a keen interest, having been on school committees for the past twelve years. He was instrumental in securing the formation of the Addington school district, and has been a member of that committee for nine years.

Standish and Preece, photo. Councillor W. Johnson.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Councillor W. Johnson.

Councillor Arthur T. Smith was elected to the Sydenham Borough Council in 1901. He was born in Middlesex, England, and landed in New Zealand with his parents in 1860, and has been a resident of Sydenham since 1864. In 1893 he entered the service of Messrs J. M. Heywood and Co., and is now manager of that firm's carrying business.

Councillor James Forrester, of the Sydenham Borough Council, hails from Stirlingshire, Scotland, where he was born in 1842; was educated at Kilsyth, and brought up to the business of a general storekeeper. At the age of twenty he landed from the ship “Chrysolite” in Lyttelton, and was employed as a bookkeeper till 1866 when he returned to England. Settling in Canterbury, permanently, in 1870, Mr. Forrester established himself as a butcher in Sydenham four years later. He has been a member of the Sydenham School Committee and of the Borough Council since 1882 and occupied the mayoral chair in the year 1887–1888, to which position he was re-elected at the close of 1897. Mr. Forrester was initiated in the Masonic Order in Scotland, but he is unattached in New Zealand. He was married in 1865 to a daughter of the late Mr. Andrew Stirling, farmer, of Brookside, and has one son and four daughters.

Councillor J. Forrester.

Councillor J. Forrester.

Councillor William Millar was elected to the Sydenham Borough Council in 1901. He was born in County Antrim, Ireland, arrived at Lyttelton by the ship “Conflict” in 1877, and settled in Christchurch, where he worked at his trade for a number of years. On the opening of the boot department of the Working Men's Co-operative Company Mr. Millar was placed in charge of that branch of the business, which has from the first shown steady progress. Mr. Millar is lieutenant of the Sydenham Rifles, and has been in that company since its foundation.

Councillor A. H. Webb, of the Sydenham Borough Council, is a native of Wiltshire, England, and came to Lyttelton by the sailing ship “Crusader” in 1879. He is a builder and contractor, and takes an active interest in the municipal affairs of Sydenham.

Councillor John Hadfield was first elected to the Sydenham Borough Council in 1892, and sat as a councillor until 1899, when he was elected to the office of mayor. He was re-elected to the council in 1901.

Councillor Edward Jones, J.P. of the Sydenham Borough Council, is referred to elsewhere in connection with the carriage works carried on by him.

Councillor George William James Parsons was elected to the Sydenham Borough Council in 1902. Mr. Parsons carries on business as a monumental mason in Manchester Street, Christchurch.

Councillor Alfred Clifford was elected to the Sydenham Borough Council in 1893, and again in 1899. He is also a member of the Waltham school committee.

Councillor Alexander McMeekan was first elected to the Sydenham Borough Council in 1899, and was re-elected in 1901. He was born at Springston, Canterbury, and was for some years in business as a commission agent. He was afterwards in business as a baker and storekeeper at Apiti, in the North Island, and also as a baker, pastrycook, confectioner, and caterer, in Colombo Street, Christchurch and now carries on business in Cashel Street.

Councillor John Taylor was elected to the Sydenham Borough Council in 1901. He had previously served on the Linwood Borough Council for eight years. Mr. Taylor was born at Wigton, Cumberland, England. He served on apprenticeship to the building trade at Carlisle, and worked at Newcastle-on-Tyne, but afterwards returned to Wigton, where he worked at his trade for three years, and then in Cleatormore for nine years. Mr. Taylor sailed for New Zealand by the ship “Hurunui,” and arrived at Lyttelton on the 6th of December, 1880. He at once started in business as a builder and contractor in Christchurch, where he built the retort houses for the Christchurch Gas Company. Mr. Taylor
Standish and Preece, photo. Councillor J. Taylor.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Councillor J. Taylor.

page 382 has built many private dwellings and business houses throughout Christchurch and suburbs, and was contractor for the brick work of the Salvation Army Barracks in Victoria Street. He is a member of the Builders' Association of Canterbury, and has been a member of the Rechabite Lodge since 1867, and of the Waltham school committee since 1899. Mr. Taylor was married in England and has a family of eight sons and five daughters.

Mr. Charles Allison, Town Clerk and Surveyor for the Borough of Sydenham, was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England, in 1845. His education was commenced in England and completed in the Colony, where he arrived in 1856 with his parents per ship “Isabella Hercus.” After two years' service as junior clerk in a local bank, he learned the business of a builder with his father, in which trade he was engaged for fifteen years. Mr. Allison was appointed to the positions which he holds under the Sydenham Borough Council on the 1st of September, 1879. As a member of the craft, he is attached to Lodge Conyers, and as a Forester, to Court Star of Canterbury. In the Volunteer movement he has taken an active part for over fifteen years. He held commissions in the No. 1 company of Canterbury Rifle Volunteers and in the E Battery of Artillery for several years, and initiated the proceedings which resulted in the formation of the latter corps, which he afterwards commanded as first lieutenant. As a rifle shot, he took a leading position and won many district trophies. He has been a member of the Reserve Corps since 1889. Mr. Allison takes a keen interest in social and political questions, especially in those relating to local government. He was married in 1867 to a daughter of Mr. Charles Howard, of Christchurch, and has six sons and four daughters.

Standish and preece, photo Mr. C. Allison.

Standish and preece, photo
Mr. C. Allison.