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Halswell History

 

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Community Info: Environment

HALSWELL HISTORY

 

There are a lot of interesting characters and events in the History of Halswell and a number of people in the community are actively working on researching and recording the history of the area.  

It it hoped that we will have links, contacts and some good stories available here as the site develops, however that is probably still some months away at this early stage!


Geographical Origins of Halswell

by Ron Fensom (courtesy Halswell Residents' Association Newsletter)

As little as 300 years ago, the Waimakariri flowed from the Southern Alps to the sea by way of Lake Ellesmere, leaving sandy river banks and shingle fans in its wake. When it took a new direction north towards Kaiapoi, the land form that resulted was the greater part of Christchurch as it is today.  As the river settled into its new course, the land took shape and consolidated.  On more than one occasion, as in the Great Flood of 1862, the river attempted to follow its old course and spilled over onto the settled land. 
A swamp skirting the hills from Heathcote to Motukarara produced well developed stands of flax which were later the basis of several rope manufacturing enterprises. 
Some of the very fertile land left from the old river courses became known as the districts of Spreydon, Halswell, Tai Tapu, Ladbrooks, Greenpark and Lincoln. 
These areas were drained by a complex network of ditches and were destined to become highly productive dairy farms.  Further towards the west, grain and root crops brought in steady incomes for the new settler farmers.

 

Origins of Oaklands

by Ron Fensom (courtesy Halswell Residents' Association Newsletter)

“Oaklands”, a 60 acre farm opposite the Halswell Domain was one of the first large subdivisions in Halswell.  In 1863, James Gammack moved to Springston after selling his farm to John Miln and David Lewis.  Miln had been in the Halswell District since 1850 (his name is remembered today by Milns Rd) and some of the Gammack farm was added to his existing holding.  David Lewis was a leading financial supporter of a Methodist Church built nearby on Lincoln Rd in the early years of settlement. 
The homestead was built soon after the purchase of the Gammack Farm in 1863.

The property was sold to a Mr Phillips and then to a Peter Watson, proprietor of the Christchurch Dairy Company, prior to World War 1. 

Up until then, the homestead was known as Halswell House. 
Mr Watson renamed it “Oaklands”, probably because of the oak trees lining the driveway. 

After Mr Watson’s death, a Mr Karl Scott (Editor of the Trotting Calendar) purchased it and eventually sold the land for housing.  He named the new streets as follows:
 
      Nottingham Ave - named after the English City of Nottingham where his father’s family came from.
      Gore St - named after Gore in Southland where his father was the Borough Electrical Engineer after coming to New Zealand in the early 1900s
      Ensign St - honours Mataura’s local paper on which Mr Scott worked for a period
      Checketts Ave -  is named after Wing Commander Johnny Checketts, a cousin with a distinguished flying record who later commanded both the Wigram and Ohakea air bases
      Wales St -  was named for a Welsh ancestor
      Lillian St - honours the wife of the then County Chaiman

Strangely, Oaklands School is not sited on that original property but was instead part of the Cunningham subdivision and was once a childrens play reserve. 

The 12 roomed house that was the Oaklands Homestead is about 110 years old and appears to be standing up well to the ravages of time, probably because it was sturdily built of mostly imported timber.  There are six bedrooms, a front and back hall, big pantry, two bathroomsand severall small dressing rooms.  Both upstairs and downstairs are very spacious and it has the ornate cornices and delicate moulding typical of houses built at that time. 

Original plans having been developed in England, the house was sited the wrong way around.  From the front, however, there is a fine view of the Port Hills.

 

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