Redcliffs Residents Association

Information for Redcliffs residents

Redcliffs, Christchurch, New Zealand

A Progressive Suburb, 1927

The Press, Volume LXIII, Issue 19140, 25 October 1927, Page 6







The Redcliffs portion of the borough of Sumner has made remarkable progress in recent years, more especially since the institution of the new sewerage scheme. Building is going ahead in that part of the borough to a remarkable extent. It is hoped to improve the estuary frontage in the near future and an energetic committee in Redcliffs has the matter in hand. The residents have this improvement very much at heart and it will be a great benefit.

—Mr W. H. Nicholson, Mayor of Sumner.

Redcliffs is considered by many a lovely part of Sumner. The estuary, with its varying moods, its changes of scenery, including the lines of dark pines on the seaward skyline, exercise a great charm, especially upon those with the artistic sense well developed. At full tide the estuary presents the appearance of a big lake; at low tide, though the mud flats look unsightly, they possess some attraction.

The Redcliffs of to-day includes localities that at different times have gone under the names of Fisherman's Flat, Watsonville, and Clifton. Monck's Bay is generally included in Redcliffs, but with Monck's Spur is retained to indicate a special part of the suburb.

Originally Clifton.

From the following note supplied by Mr J. R. Evans, of Christchurch, to Canon Nevill for his articles on "European Place Names" (see The Press of January 12th, 1924), it appears that Redcliffs originally was named Clifton:

"I owned land at the cutting on the Christchurch tram-line, about a mile from Sumner. Part was on the flat and part hilly, with cliffs. I cut up the land and sold it, and for the convenience of my ledger account, called the place Clifton, under which name it went for a few years until a post office was applied for, when the Government objected to the name, there being already a Clifton in the Dominion. The name was then changed to Redcliffs."

Original Settlers.

"Fisherman's Flat" for many years was the name of that portion of Redcliffs on the shore of the estuary, and the first settlers were fishermen who built rough huts along the foreshore. Close upon the heels of the fishermen came the settlers interested in yachting, and pleasure boating generally, and later in power boating. Before the present road connecting Christchurch and Sumner was constructed, the coaches used to be driven along the foreshore at Redcliffs.

"Watsonville" is an old name for that part of present-day Redcliffs on the right of the cutting. It got its name from Mr Watson, whose residence stood at the end of an avenue of pines.

Chronicles of Redcliffs.

To Mr J. O. H. Newbery, J.P., who has been resident at Redcliffs for nearly thirty years, a representative of The Press was indebted for the following notes which describe the rise and progress of the locality.

Fisherman's Flat was presented to Mr Moorhouse by the Provincial Council for his services in connexion with the tunnel, and was held in trust for his family by Mr Bowron, of Ashley Bank. The plans [of the subdivision] were prepared by Mr Deacon.

One of the earliest entries in Mr Newbery's diary is: "1864—Captain ('Dad') Hines's house —it was one of the fishermen's houses. Mr C. L. Wiggins conducted religious services in Captain Hines's house many years later."

Interesting Events.

In 1863 the cutting was put through by Whittington. In the early 60's Dick Haper, a man-of-warsman, found a spring in the mud flats which became the source of the water supply. Haper was in partnership with a man named Walker, as fishermen. In 1864 the ferry (Heathcote) bridge was opened. In 1870 Mr Monck bought Watson's. In February, 1872, there was a regatta at Monck's Bay. The steam tram started running to Sumner in 1888. The next year a start was made with the Sumner water supply, consisting of four wells 180ft deep each, and one well 272ft. The reservoir, on the hills above Shag Rock, had a capacity of 41,000 gallons, the water being pumped a mile and a quarter.

Sailing Club.

On August 13th, 1891, at a meeting held in the Clarendon Hotel, Christchurch, the Christchurch Sailing Club was formed with headquarters at Monck's Bay. The club's jetty was built the same year by W. Lamb. and on October 8th, 1892, the club opened its first season, which was celebrated by a dinner at the Marine Hotel. Boats that took part in the opening were the Moana, Python, and Marama. There were three boats from Picton—the Hawke, Stella, and Lorrie.

About 1878, Danny Burn, an enterprising coal-dealer in Sumner, erected a jetty at Redcliffs, at which he landed coal from the small vessels trading to the estuary and the Heathcote. This jetty was pulled down in 1911. Mr Monck erected a jetty which was replaced by one built by Messrs Newbery and Lamb, which in turn was replaced by the present jetty, which was erected by the Lyttelton Harbour Board in 1902.

On October 7th, 1892, Mr Newbery erected a flagpole; it was made from a gum tree brought from Kennaway's plantation, opposite the steam wharf, Woolston.

On February 29th, 1896, Messrs Warner (of Warner's Hotel), Stewart, and Murray lost their lives in the estuary owing to their boat capsizing.

School Matters.

Those present at a meeting held, in 1896, to discuss the establishment of a school at Redcliffs, were Messrs J. J. Collins, C. B. Massey, E. S. Drew, G. M. Bolt, M. J. Moss, A. Heskett, P. O'Malley, W. Johnston, Howard Strong, R. W. England, J. M. Glennie, .T. Townend, J. Maffey, Theodore de Thier, and Mrs Hawley. As a result a deputation waited on the Education Board, which considered the proposal premature. Three sites were proposed—Gumtree site, a site near Monck's Spur, and the present site, which was selected as being most central. It was not till 1907 that a school was provided.

Interesting Happenings.

It was in 1898 that the name Clifton, as applied to Redcliffs, was changed to the last-mentioned name. The same year, on May 20th, there was a covering, one inch thick, of the crustean [sic] known popularly as whale food on the beach which had the appearance of having been painted red. In appearance, whale food is something like shrimps. The same year saw the erection of the first shop in Redcliffs. It was built by Mr Wilson. In 1901 an agitation for a sea wall in front of Redcliffs reached the point of bringing the matter before the Government, but nothing came of it as the Government considered that they would be setting up a dangerous precedent by undertaking to protect private property. The residents of the waterfront, however, decided to give a strip of land 6 feet wide to the Borough Council to enable it to protect their property. In 1903 the Gleam, a motorboat owned by Mr C. J. Treleaven, was lost when crossing the bar. In August, 1904, a petition was presented to the Borough Council asking that the Estuary road should be formed, and this work was completed on July 24th, 1905. In 1904 Monck's Bay was subdivided, and the first street lamp (kerosene) was erected. On November 22nd the same year a severe hurricane was experienced and Mr Harrison's shop was blown down. On January 27th, 1905 Blunt's general store was burned down and this led to the preliminary steps being taken for the formation of a branch of the Sumner Fire Brigade at Redcliffs. The same year church services and Sunday school were held in a shop and continued to be held there till a Mission Hall was erected, and was formally opened by Bishop Julius on June 24th, 1906.

In 1905 the motor-boat Tuariki began running in the estuary between Sumner bar, Heathcote, and New Brighton. The same year in connexion with the Parliamentary general elections the first polling booth was opened. On June 29th, 1906, the first electric tramcar reached Redcliffs.

New Ferry Bridge.

The new bridge at the Heathcote ferry was opened by the Hon. Mr Fowlds on May 9th, 1907. Mr Jas. Crawford was the engineer. A part of the old bridge was removed to the City and is still (1927) giving service as a bridge over the Avon at Swann's and Retreat roads. Mr Newbery bought some of the piles, and timber from them has been used for the pannelling [sic] of the sitting-room of his residence, and the beautiful natural strain of the wood is much admired. The timber for the original bridge was brought from Pigeon Bay.

Other Notable Events.

In 1907 Tanner's ark, a barrel-like boat, visited Redcliffs and excited much attention. On March 29th the same year there was a big fall of rock, which blocked the road, and passengers were run from Redcliffs to Sumner by the motor-boat Kea.

On December 27th, 1908, Mr James Crawford died. The following year the Rowing Club was started.

The census taken on March 2nd, 1911, showed that in Redcliffs there were 227 males and 210 females, and 197 houses.

A strong hurricane was experienced on October 26th, 1912, and Pidgeon's and Senior's houses were blown down.

A Shipping Note.

In April, 1905, it was recorded: "For the first time for many years past in the history of Redcliffs a vessel with a large cargo arrived there direct from another port. The vessel is the ketch Comet, 20 tons register, Captain Dudley, and her cargo consists of 12,000 ft of timber (firewood and sundries) from Port Levy. The cost of freight, we are informed, is immeasurably lower than it would be via Lyttelton."

Oyster Fisheries Tried.

An attempt, which proved unsuccessful, to establish an oyster fishery in the estuary is referred to in the following extract from the minutes of the Sumner Borough Council, under date October 17th, 1893:—

"Mayor's statement: Relative to the granting by the Government of a right to Mr Linn, of Watsonville [now Redcliffs], of a site for an oyster fishery within the estuary, 2 acres in extent: The clerk was instructed to write to the Collector of Customs informing him that the Council has no objection to the site being granted to Mr Linn.

The fishery was duly started by Mr Linn, but as it was not possible to keep the public from the beds, he gave up the project. This Mr Linn was Mr Richard Linn, who was well-known thirty or forty years ago as officer commanding the Queen's Cadets, and as secretary of the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand.

Source: National Library of New Zealand,
Transcription corrections by the Redcliffs Residents Association.

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