The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]
Leeston, the principal town in the Ellesmere district, is twenty-seven miles by rail from Christchurch, on the Christchurch-Southbridge line. Mr. Smith, one of the pioneers of the district, named it, after the hamlet of Leeston at Weston-super-Mare, Somersetshire, England. It possesses four churches, and the Roman Catholic church especially is a fine structure of brick and stone. Fortnightly sales are held at the township, and large numbers of animals change hands. Leeston has one of the finest country hotels in New Zealand. It was erected in 1865 by the late Mr. J. J. Lee, who for a number of years carried on an extensive business in the township. Leeston has a courthouse, at which sessions are held once a month by the Stipendiary Magistrate. The Leeston cycle track is considered by experts to be the finest in the Australasian colonies. The Ellesmere Agricultural and Pastoral Association's shows are held at Leeston, and attract some of the best stock in New Zealand. The Bank of New Zealand has a branch and a resident manager in the township.
Mr. Robert Heaton Rhodes, Member for Ellesmere in the House of Representatives, was first elected at the general election on the 6th of December, 1899, when he polled 1760 votes to Mr. W. G. Montgomery's 1656. At the general election, held on the 25th of November, 1902, Mr. Rhodes was again returned, by 1721 votes to the 1229 polled by his opponent, Mr. Thorton. A biographical sketch and portrait of Mr. Rhodes appear at page 135 in the Military Section of this volume, and he is also referred to under Tai Tapu, as owner of the Otahuna estate.
The Public School at Leeston is also a technical centre, for manual training in woodwork and ironwork. The number of pupils on the roll is 128, and the average attendance is 104. Mr. J. Anderson, the headmaster, is assisted by Miss A. J. Cook and one pupil-eatcher. The technical branch is a feature of this school, and was established in 1897 with the object of developing the motor centres of the brain by means of manual exercise. The pupils are instructed in practical joinery and ironwork, and the course in each occupies three years. Leeston is a recognised centre for woodwork and the Education Department subsidises the school with the object of furthering education in that respect.
Mr. Anderson, Head Teacher, is a native of London, and came to New Zealand in 1876, when he entered the service of the Otago Education Board as a teacher in the Balclutha district. He was appointed headmaster at the Tai Tapu school in 1887, and took charge at Leeston in 1888.
St. John's Church, Leeston, was built in 1882, and has accommodation for 150 worshippers. Services are held thrice on Sunday, and there is an average attendance of eighty at the congregation. There is a good chair and an American organ.
The Rev. W. H. Orbell, Vicar of Leeston, is a son of Mr. M. Orbell, of Geraldine. He was educated at Christ's Cillege and Canterbury College and passed the Upper Department of Christ's College in 1894. Mr. Orbell was ordained deacon in 1894, and priest in 1897. His first appointment was the curacy of St. Mary's, Timaru, and he was locum tenens at Longbeach in 1899, in which year he was appointed vicar of Leeston.
St. David's Presbyterian Church, Leeston, is a fine large wooden building with accommodation for 265 worshippers, and an average attendance of 220. The church has a fine American organ, and services are held each Sunday morning. St. James' Presbyterian church, Brookside, has accommodation for 120 persons, and an average attendance of 100. There is a fine new organ. Weekly services are held there on Sunday afternoon. Evening service is held fortnightly at Dunsandel, with an average attendance of 150, and at Killinchy, once a month, with an page 699 average attendance of 100. There are 253 members on the roll of the parish, which has an annual revenue of £630.
The Rev. William Grant, Minister in charge of St. David's Presbyterian Church, Leeston, was born at Kirriemuir, Forfarshire, Scotland, and accompanied his parents to Waipukurau, Hawke's Bay, in 1870. He was educated in New Zealand, and completed his theological course at the New College, Edinburgh. His first charge was St. Andrew's Church, New Plymouth, where he remained three years. Mr. Grant accepted a call to Leeston in 1891.
Wesleyan Church, Leeston. This church is the centre of a circuit which has churches at Brookside, Irwell, Southbridge, Taumutu, and Dunsandel, in connection with which the minister is assisted by lay readers. The Leeston church has accommodation for about 270 worshippers, and there is an average attendance of 120. There are 174 Wesleyan members in the district, thirty communicants, five Sunday schools, twenty-seven Sunday school teachers, and 139 Sunday school children. The ground on which the church and parsonage stand was presented by Mr. F. J. Smith, in 1874. The first church, which is now used as a schoolroom, cost £450, and was replaced by the new church at a cost of £870. The parsonage is a handsome commodious residence, and was built at a cost of £696.
The Rev. William Henry Beck was born at St. Leonards, Sussex, England, and was educated at the Hastings preparatory school. He accompanied his parents to Otago, and was called to the ministry in 1869; Mr. Beck's first charge was at Rangiora, and he has been stationed at Leeston since 1900.
The Ellesmere Agricultural And Pastoral Association, Leeston. This association holds a show on its fine grounds near Leeston every year in the month of October. The grounds have an area of twenty acres, conveniently laid out, and close to the railway. Prizes to the value of about £500 are given, and about 528 head of stock. including horses, cattle and sheep, are annually exhibited. Prizes are given for various other exhibits, including woodwork from the technical school, dairy produce, needle work, etc. The first show was held at Southbridge in 1871, and that of the following year was held in the late Mr. Lee's paddock, at Leeston. In 1873 the Association received from the Provincial Government a grant of twenty acres at Leeston, and ever since then the shows have been held at that place. A horse parade is held yearly previous to the show, and some of the finest horses in Canterbury are exhibited in the parade. The Association is governed by a committee of twenty-four, of which Mr. James Henderson is president; Mr. A. Chamberlain, vice president; Mr. J. McVennie, treasurer; and Mr. T. W. Durant, secretary.
Mr. James Henderson, President of the Ellesmere Agricultural and Pastoral Association, is the third son of the late Mr. William Henderson, of Spreydon, Canterbury. He was born in 1863 in Caithness, Scotland, and arrived in Canterbury with his parents in the following year. He was educated at Christchurch. In addition to gaining a knowledge of practical farming on his father's farm, he studied at Lincoln Agricultural College for two years. On leaving college, he gained further experience at Ashley Gorge station, then in the possession of his father. For two years afterwards Mr. Henderson was engaged in large sheep dealing transactions, and in 1894 took his present fine farm of “Broadleans” at Dunsandel. It consists of 730 acres. Mr. Henderson fattens sheep and lambs for freezing. In that connection he has a large area of land under green crops, and for several years he has been buying considerable numbers of fat sheep and lambs for freezing. He keeps a flock of Border Leicesters for stud purposes, is a successful breeder of draught horses, and owns a fine pedigree draught sire. Mr. Henderson, like his father, has always taken a great interest in matters connected with agricultural and pastoral associations, and has been a member of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association for over twenty years, and a member of the committee of that body for five years. He has been a member of the Ellesmere Agricultural and Pastoral Association for eight years, a member of the committee for five years, is now (1902–3) its president, and has frequently taken prizes at its shows with sheep. Mr. Henderson is a member of the New Zealand Farmers' Union, and treasurer of its local branch. He married Miss Boag, daughter of Mr. William Boag, of Fendalton, and there is a family of six children.
Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.
Mr. J. Henderson.
Gosset, George, M.R.C.S., Eng., 1875, M.A. and M.B., University of Cambridge, 1876; Justice of the Peace, Leeston. Dr. Gosset is a son of the late Rev. I. H. Gosset, vicar of Northam, North Devon, England, a gentleman who introduced the game of golf into Devonshire. He was born in Devonshire, and educated first at Bishop's Hull, Taunton, where he was a fellow pupil of the late Sir W. Penn Symons, the hero of Talana Hill in South Africa. He was at Eton for six years, and in 1866 went to Cambridge, where he took his B.A. degree in 1870, and in 1876 his M.A. and M.B. degrees. For about seven years he practised at Abingdon, Berks; in 1883 he settled at Leeston, and two years later was appointed a Justice of the Peace. Dr. Gosset is an enthusiastic golfer. He was an original member of the Royal North Devon Golf Club (1864); and of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club (1869), winning that club's gold medal at Hoylake in 1871; and a member of the London Scottish Golf Club from 1872 to 1876. Since his arrival in New Zealand he has kept up his interest in the healthy and fascinating game, and won the New Zealand golf championship in 1895. Dr Gosset has been twice married; firstly, to Miss Charlewood, daughter of Admiral Charlewood, and, secondly, to Miss Rennie, daughter of Mr. John Rennie, a prominent settler in the district of Leeston.
Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.
Dr. G. Gosset.
The Bank Of New Zealand, Leeston , faces the main street, and is a commodious wooden building with a convenient suite of offices. The manager's private residence forms part of the premises, and the extensive grounds contain a tennis lawn, a bowling green, and flower garden. There is an agency at Southbridge, which is regularly visited by the manager. The branch was originally established at Southbridge, with the agency at Leeston, which has become the headquarters on account of its greatly increased importance as a centre of business. The only branch between Christchurch and Ashburton is at Leeston.
Mr. Richard Loudon, Manager of the Bank of New Zealand at Leeston and Southbridge, is the youngest son of the late Mr. William Loudon, of County Derry, Ireland. He came to New Zealand in 1864, joined the Bank of New Zealand at Blenheim, in 1873, page 700 and has been stationed at Picton, Dunedin, Balclutha, Cromwell, Levuka (Fiji), Auckland, and Gisborne. Mr. Loudon was accountant at Gisborne for eight years. While there he won the gold medal in the golf handicap, and was tennis champion for 1889. He was vice-president of the Gisborne Bowling Club, and is now vice-president of the Sothbridge Bowling Club, and chairman of the Leeston Angling Society. Mr. Loudon was married, in 1893, to Miss Jenny Briton, second daughter of Mr. John Briton, “Te Whare,” Petersham, Sydney, and has three sons.
Standish and Preece, photo. Mr. R. Loudon.
Hammond, John William, Draper and Clothier, Leeston. Mr. Hammond was born in Preston, Rutlandshire, England, in 1840. He was brought up to commercial life, and while a young man he went to America, where he remained six years. He then returned to England, where he remained a year, and then came to New Zealand, by the ship “Opawa,” in 1879. Shortly after landing at Lyttelton, Mr. Hammond took an engagement with the late Mr J. S. Woodhouse, of Amberley, with whom the remained a year. In 1880 he settled at Leeston, under an engagement to manage the Leeston branch of Messrs Walker, Smith and Co., who then carried on business in various parts of Canterbury. After about three years he took over the firm's Leeston business, and since then he has carried on a prosperous trade. Mr. Hammond has never taken part in public affairs, but has on several occasions been vestryman and churchwarden in the Anglican church. He is married, and has a family of two sons and two daughters.
Johnston, William, Tailor, Clothier and Outfitter, Leeston. Mr. Johnston was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1843, and came to New Zealand by the ship “Blue Jacket” in 1863, when he landed at Lyttelton. After working at his trade with Mr. George Fletcher (now Fletcher and Son), Christchurch, for about twelve months, and for a similar period with Messrs Hobbs and Co., he went to Wellington, where he worked with Mr. Poulson, then a leading tailor of that city. He then entered business on his own account, and carried on successfully for several years. In 1880 he returned to Canterbury, and started his present prosperous business in Leeston. Mr. Johnston has for fifteen years been a prominent member of the Presbyterian church, and was for many years a member of the Leeston school committee, but resigned in 1898. As a Freemason he is a member of Lodge Ionic, E.C. He has been an Oddfellow for many years, and has passed through all the chairs of his lodge. Mr. Johnston was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1898. He is a widower, with one unmarried daughter, and two of his sons occupy positions in the Government railway service.
Mr. W. Johnston.
White And Sons, Timber and Coal Merchants (John McVinnie, manager), Leeston. This firm's headquarters are in Christchurch, but it carries on a very extensive business throughout the Leeston district, where Mr. John McVinnie is its manager.
Mr. John McVinnie was born in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, in 1841, and his earlier days were spent in farming. He came to New Zealand in 1862, by the ship “Queen of the Mersey,” and landed at Lyttelton. He found employment with the late Mr. Thomas Dunbar and was for four years afterwards with the late Dr Beck, sheriff of Christchurch. In 1867 he removed to Doyleston, where he did a successful business as a carpenter and builder until 1874. About that time he entered the employment of the late Mr. William White, who then carried on an extensive trade in sawn timber, and had large mills at Little River. The spread of settlement at Leeston and throughout the surrounding district created a great demand for timber for building purposes, and for nine years Mr. McVinnie resided at Lake Ellesmere, whence he superintended the distribution of all the material thus called into use. After the construction of the railway to Litte River, the sawn timber was sent to Leeston by train. Mr. McVinnie accordingly removed to Leeston, in 1882, to take charge of the firm's depot, which continues to be the centre of a large and important business in timber and coal. Ever since his settlement in the district Mr. McVinnie has been thoroughly identified with its progress and prosperity. He has always taken an active interest in the Ellesmere Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and is well known as a prize-taker at its shows with horses, cattle, and pigs. He was a member of the Lakeside school committee and its chairman for several years, and since his settlement at Leeston he has been a member of the Leeston school committee, and chairman of the Leeston Presbyterian church committee. Mr. McVinnie has belonged to the Order of Oddflelows' for over twenty-eight years, and is at present treasurer of the lodge at Leeston. He has always been an ardent supporter and encourager of athletic sports, and is known as the most enthusiastic sportsman in the Ellesmere district. Mr. McVinnie married Miss Doyle, sister of Mr. Joseph Doyle, the founder of Doyleston, and of a family of five, one son is alive. Mr. and Mrs McVinnie celebrated the fortieth anniversary of their marriage on the 30th of June, 1902.
Mr. J. McVinnie.