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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]


Darfield is an extensive farming district, situated thirty miles west of Christchurch, near the junction of the branch railway lines from Whitecliffs and Springfield. The land is held chiefly in moderate sized blocks, though there are some extensive stations in the neighbourhood, and the principal occupations of the people are sheepfarming and grain growing. Monthly sales are held in the village, and are well attended by the local farmers. A large water-race from the Kowai river brings an ample supply of good water to the district, and smaller races again divert it over the farms. The village of Darfield is a scattered one. It has four churches, representing the Catholic, English, Presbyterian and Wesleyan bodies; a public school, with a high school department, and a Catholic convent; and also a hotel, a courthouse, several general stores, and a blacksmith's shop. Mails are received and despatched twice daily, and there is a post and telegraph office, with other branches of the public service, at the railway station.

Darfield School. This school was opened on the 19th of February, 1883, with nine boys and nine girls, and Mr. A. C. Augur, M.A., was the first master. The school stands on a triangular piece of ground comprising three acres, of which one-quarter of an acre is allotted to the master, who has a comfortable dwellinghouse of six rooms. Close to the school there is a railway junction, whence trains run to Springfield and Whitecliffs. The school has gone on steadily increasing, and in 1902 it had two teachers—a master and a mistress, and there were ninety-three children on the roll. Mr. Withell, the present master, has fitted up the school with two museums, one of which is the property of the school committee, and the other that of the master, who has also made a number of valuable maps and diagrams, which are valuable adjuncts in the teaching of geography. For these maps and diagrams Mr. Withell has been highly complimented by the Board and all the Board's inspectors. The school museum has been much benefited by contributions from Sir John Hall.

Mr. C. W. Withell was born in York-shire, England, in 1858. He began his education at Brookside, Canterbury, and finished at Canterbury College, where he passed the teachers' examination; he gained an E and a D certificate and now holds a D3. His first school was at Summerhill, Cust, where he taught for four years. he moved to Darfield in 1892. Mr. Withell was married, in 1887, to Miss Douds, and has one son and four daughters.

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Howard, James, M.R.C.S. Eng., L.R.C.P. Irel., Darfield. Dr. Howard was born in 1845, at Dukinfield, Cheshire, England, where his father carried on business as a general merchant. He gained his primary education at the hands of private tutors, and afterwards went to Manchester, where he continued his studies at Owen's College and the Manchester School of Medicine. He gained the diploma of member of the Royal College of Surgeons, England, in 1867, and in the following year commenced the practice of his profession in South Lancashire, where he continued to study, taking, in 1872, the diploma of licenciate of the Royal College of Physicians, Ireland. In 1878 he removed into York-shire, where he practised his profession till he left for New Zealand in 1896. On landing in Wellington, Dr. Howard went to Blackball, near Greymouth, and there carried on a practice for four years, during which he held the post of medical officer to the Blackball Medical Association. In 1900 he came to Canterbury and settled at Sheffield, but in 1901, he removed to Darfield, where he has since practised his profession. Dr. Howard is surgeon-captain in the Malvern Mounted Rifles, and is also surgeon to the Oddfellows' Lodge at Sheffield and the Foresters' Lodge at Courtenay. He was married before leaving the Old Country, and has one son.

The Darfield Hotel, Darfield, is situated on a acre of land, two or three chains distant from the railway line, and was opened in the early eighties, to meet the requirements of a rapidly rising district, and an increasing traffic. It is a wooden building of two stories with a wide balcony extending round two sides, and overlooks the railway station and the eastern portion of the town ship. There are seventeen rooms in the hotel, inclusive of a commodious dining room, two sitting rooms, and a large smoke room. The bedrooms, thirteen in number, are neatly arranged and well kept, and the table is supplied with care and skill. There is good accommodation for horses and vehicles, and a paddock of about eight acres, on the opposite side of the road, is rented by the proprietor, who keeps several cows for the supply of milk and butter for the table. The Darfield Hotel has become a popular resting place for commerical travellers, and has gained a reputation for quietness and respectibility.

Mr. J. G. King, formerly Proprietor of the Darfield Hotel, was born in 1863, in Christ-church, where he was educated. He passed his early years with his parents at the Hurunui and Waiau hotels, and subsequently served in some of the best hotels in Christ-church, including Coker's and the “Royal.” Mr. King was married, in 1894, to Mrs Prince, and has one son.

Whall, James, Blacksmith and Machinist, Darfield. Mr. Whall is the son of Mr. John Whall, formerly of Darfield. He was born at St. Albans, Christchurch, in 1875, and educated partly at the public school there; and afterwards at Darfield. On leaving school he spent two years or more at farming, and afterwards at the bakery trade. Subsequently he went to Christchurch, where he gained some knowledge of engineering and fitting. Later on he returned to Darfield and learned the blacksmithing trade with his father. In 1898 he went to work at the Hutt, Wellington, but in the following year he leased his father's business for lowing year he leased his father's business for a term. This he conducted for about eighteen months on his own account, but, in 1901, he entered into partnership with Mr. William Willstead. Mr. Whall is a member of the Oddfellows' Lodge at Glentunnel, and was formerly a member of the Darfield school committee. He was married, in 1899, to Miss Mary Ann Scrimshaw, of Trentham, near Wellington, and has two sons and one daughter.

Mr. J. Whall.

Mr. J. Whall.

Darfield Roller Flour Mill (J. Moffat, proprietor), Darfield. This mill was established in 1887 as a stone mill, but was subsequently fitted up with the most approved rollers. It is driven by water power supplied by the Selwyn County Council's water race, and does a good grist trade, the annual output being about 700 tons.

Mr. J. Moffat, the Proprietor, was born in Cumberland, England, in 1854, and learned his trade amongst relations, several of whom were millers. He came to New Zealand in 1871, by the ship “Merope,” which made the run from land to land in sixty-eight days; and he resided with his uncle at Lincoln for a number of years. He was married, in 1876, to Miss Gaskill, and has five sons and three daughters.