Topic: Springston area - historical notes
Notes on the history of Springston from 1850. These notes were used on the Lincoln & Districts Historical Society Field Trip to Springston, March, 2002.
Springston derives its name from "The Springs Run" named by James Edward Fitzgerald because of the water bubbling to the surface in many places.
J.E. Fitzgerald arrived in Canterbury on the Charlotte Jane in December 1850 and quickly purchased land south of Christchurch until in 1861 the Springs Run spread over 27,000 acres, the largest it ever reached. However, by 1863 there was little of the Springs Run left for grazing so the owners decided to sell out.
The countryside about Springston before the first settlers arrived looked very different from today. Stretching north of where Ellesmere Junction Road now runs was a great unbroken treeless plain. It was covered in rank golden brown tussock with matagouri, native broom, and spear grass growing on the lighter land. Between the tussock grew the blue wheat grass beloved by stock and some native rushes. Along the banks of streams tutu and maori cabbage thrived. All the low lying land south of this was wet and heavily covered in flax. It could be crossed only with great difficulty. No drains or ditches were dug until the early 1860's.
There were no english birds or hares before the late 1860's, but native birds such as putakitaki/paradise shelducks, weka/woodhens, pukeko/swamphens and kotare/kingfishers were common near water and kakariki/parakeets, kaka, pateke/teal, tūturiwhat/dotterels, tarapunga/red billed gulls, matuku/bittern and shags were also abundant.
The Springston district was not particularly attractive for new farmers. It wa mostly either light dry plains land or swamps. But nevertheless, it was taken up with quite a rush between 1861 and 1865.
Several factors helped in the establishment of a settlement at Springston. It was an route skirting around the wet lands giving access to land beyond the Selwyn. It was a suitable distance from Christchurch for a stopping place for coaches and change of horses. Land for stables was given by James Gammock. The establishment of the Road Board Office and yard on Ellesmere Junction Road gave employment. These attracted the building of a store - Howard & Dartnalls and the coming of the brothers Kime as carpenters. Then there was the opening of the school in 1868. When the railway to Southbridge was opened in 1876 a hotel was built on the present site.