Welcome to the South Canterbury GenWeb, the place to be. 
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South Canterbury, New Zealand lies in the centre of the South Island bounded by the Rangitata River to the north and Waitaki River to the south and stretching from the east coast to the Southern Alps where Mount Cook dominates the range.  The 5,276 square miles or 3,504,640 acres of land changes from plain to downland to foothills and mountains.  The Mackenzie Basin has three large lakes; Ohau, Pukaki and Tekapo that are all part of the Waitaki River catchment and contributes to the supply of water which provides electric power for the South Island. Discover the Waitaki Hydro Scheme (June 2). Industries include grain growing and sheep. The port of Timaru is a central multipurpose bulk handling facility.  The foothills - Four Peaks, Hunter Hills, the hills behind Fairlie and the Two Thumb Range are often dusted with snow. Refresh page to view the images above - four of the photos are views on the opposite side of Four Peaks, the Fairlie Basin, looking back towards Four Peaks from Middle Rd, Sherwood Downs and a painting of the run "Ribbonwood" on the Two Thumb Range, Sherwood Downs, Fairlie.

   Add input regarding migration in and out of the area.      Why did the settlers select South Canterbury to settle? Hint: Construct your entry off line, do spell check, then cut and paste.

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Be sure that your family is represented - send me an email with your information or corrections. Please email me if you have enjoyed visiting or if you found the site useful or interesting.  

Photos of the month  A snap-shooter.
A neat photo, snow in Fairlie in 1903 with a train arriving with corrugated iron improvised as a snow plough. Derailed. The Gladstone Hotel was more or less opposite the station and opposite the goods shed which can be seen on the left in the distance. Main St. and School Rd intersection. The tiny bit of the Fairlie Hotel (or Manaton's as we used to call it) looks like the corner of the verandah on the front right of the photo. Building on far left is Jack Fraser's old accountant's office. It is thanks to James Dundas Hamilton of Clayton Station who inspired John Pigott that we have these wonderful photos of Fairlie. John Ernest Pigott was a long standing employee at Clayton and Dundas was into photography. Dundas left Clayton in 1903 and Pigott continued with the photography. By 1909 the Pigott family was living in Timaru and John had a photography studio, Talma Studio, in Stafford St. J.E. Pigott died July 21st 1932, buried at Timaru. John Ernest Pigott married Mary Emily (Mollie) Deamer in 1891. Children:
 Phyllis Ethel Neville Pigott  b. 1893
 John Ardsley  Pigott b. 25 Jan. 1987 in Fairlie, married 3x.
 Kate Daphne Pigott b. 1904 m. Alfred George Harding in 1932


The first engine is one of the original "J" class pioneering freight locomotives (the "J" classification was recycled for a different class of locomotive in the late 30s). 32 of these locos were built for NZ, all in the UK, but using five different builders between 1875 and 1885. None survived. These little locomotives weighed about 38 tons. 2-6-0  represents their wheel arrangement of two leading wheels on one axle, six powered and coupled driving wheels on three axles, and no trailing wheels. This class was well suited for burning wood but there was no wood to burn on the southern line. The locomotive behind it is an "F" class which were also built in the UK using quite a few different companies. The line to Albury was officially opened 1st Jan. 1877 and that first train was pulled by an 'F' Class loco (Canterbury No. 25). NZís railways were predominantly steam-powered until the 1950s. Most 19th-century locomotives were small British-built tank engines (which carried their fuel and water supplies in tanks on the machine, rather than in a trailing tender). Best known was the outstanding F class; 88 were imported between 1872 and 1888.

July 11 1903
The Timaru to Fairlie train became snow bound at Cricklewood.

Evening Post, 20 July 1903, Page 6
Fairlie, This Day. After a thaw yesterday and to-day, an engine with a snow-plough got through from Timaru to Fairlie this morning. It is a week to-day since the line was first blocked. After reaching Fairlie the engine and a car endeavoured to reach the terminus of the line, but the engine was derailed.

Otago Witness 22 July 1903, Page 29 A TRAIN SNOWED UP.
Timaru, July 15. The evening train to Fairlie yesterday reached Cricklewood at 9 p.m., and could get no further on account of the 6now frozen on the line. Twelve passengers were in the train (three of them women). A trolly came to Timaru at 1 a.m. for assistance. An engine was sent up to the belated train, taking food and blankets for the passengers. The train frozen in was brought back to Timaru minus the engine, which is stuck fast in the frozen snow. Another try will be made to-night to pull it out. A report from the Mackenzie Country says that there is 3ft of snow on the plain one of the heaviest falls on record.

July 16 The engine stuck up on the Fairlie line near Cricklewood on Tuesday was released to-day after picking away a quantity of ice from the wheels and bumping with another engine. It took the relief engine about two hours to go from Albury to Cricklewood, four miles, ice having to be chipped off the rails nearly all the way. A gang of 23 men was employed on this. An attempt was to be made to get the engine through to Fairlie. The engine stuck through running out of water consequent on the incessant skidding of the wheels on the ice-covered rails. The snow is lying to a depth of 18in at Cricklewood. The snow is still lying very thickly around Fairlie, Temuka, Geraldine, and the surrounding districts. Stock are suffering severely. In the Mackenzie Country the fall was not so heavy, and the stock there are not greatly affected.

Otago Witness, 12 August 1903, Page 16
Farmers around the Pleasant Point and Geraldine districts and also in the Mackenzie Country are suffering heavy losses as a result of the recent snowstorm. The snow still lies thickly over many farms in the districts named, and the severe frosts prevent a thaw. Sheep are in many instances suffering severely, and it anticipated that when the spring feed comes there will be heavy losses, as the sheep in their weak condition will scour very much. On farms where lambing has commenced, it is being found that the long period of starvation and cold has brought on abortion, and in many cases lambs which are born alive are so weak that they do not long survive. One large station-holder considers that had he not been fortunate enough to get a large percentage of his sheep down to feed near the coast, he would have lost fully half of his flock. A Geraldine settler has lost 50 sheep as a result of the snow, each worth from 16s to £1; another settler at Rapuna has lost 250 hoggets, and there are very many other similar losses. Mr Jones, of Mount Nessing, Albury, was in Timaru Friday last, and he informed a member of the Post staff that the snow at Albury is now only about 3in depth, and that at the back of the township there are a good many bare patches, though the snow has by no means gone yet. The thaw is extremely slow, wing to the severe frosts. Mr Jones says that his losses of sheep to far has not been large, owing to the fact that he was able to remove over 3000 lambs from his run to more congenial quarters at St. Andrews, this leaving sufficient room for tie remaining sheep on the station on the bare patches, whore they congregated. Had it not been for this transference of so many lambs Mr Jones considers that he would have lost fully half his flock. It is quite impossible, he says, to estimate the losses, or even the probable losses, as a result of the snowstorm, as he heaviest losses are likely to come later on when ewes are lambing and when the spring feed. 

Press, 16 July 1903, Page 2 another version
The Fairlie train. About one o'clock on Wednesday morning the station at Timaru, Mr C.A. Marcus, received word that the Fairlie train, which left Timaru on Tuesday night, had been unable to reach its destination, and that it was snowbound at Cricklewood, a side station 55 miles from Timaru and six miles this side of Fairlie. The Fairlie train left Timaru at 4 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, as usual, and a slow, wearisome journey was experienced to Cricklewood. The cold was very severe, and the train was delayed by the frozen snow, the rails being very slippery. It was 9 o'clock before the train arrived at Cricklewood, and the steep incline, combined with the state of the rails, effectually prevented further progress. Fortunately, a railway velocipede was available, and two railway men, Mr Drummond, foreman bridge carpenter and another, whose name could not be certained, who were going back by the train to their work, at once started for Timaru. It may readily be imagined that the journey was not a pleasant one, but the distance was done in very good time. Mr Marcus, on being informed of the unpleasant predicament of the passengers and officers on board the Fairlie train, lost no lime in ordering out an engine to go to the assistance of the train. He also obtained a supply of refreshments from the Railway Refreshment Rooms. Luckily the barman happened to be sleeping on the premises, and sugar, tea, spirits, coffee, cakes, etc., were quickly packed and placed on board the engine, which left Timaru at 2 a.m.. and was expected to reach Cricklewood about 4 o'clock. There were twelve passengers, including three ladies, on board the Fairlie train, and when the message for assistance was despatched they were making the best of a very unpleasant adventure, though they were feeling the intense cold very keenly.
    The relief engine reached the frost-bound train at Cricklewood and succeed in getting it back to Albury at 8 o'clock yesterday morning with the exception of the engine which could not be moved. A relief engine was afterwards sent back to Cricklewood with a view to moving the disabled locomotive, but up to last night this has found impossible, and the engine remains frozen in on the line. The belated train, with the passengers arrived in Timaru at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon after a very trying experience. The express was kept waiting till the arrival of the belated Fairlie train, to meet which a large crowd of anxious and curious spectators had gathered on the platform. Interviewed by a Timaru "Post" representative, a lady who "stuck by" the train throughout the adventure, stated that her experiences, and those of her fellow passengers, had been the reverse of pleasant, though everything possible was done by the railway authorities to mitigate the discomfort of the situation. All the twelve passengers were gathered into a first-class carriage, and the guard supplied what sacks were available, as well as a lot of chaff which, fortunately, constituted part of the contents of the van. Long before midnight, the foot-warmers were cool, before long freezing. The rugs and wraps in the company afforded quite inadequate protection, and every article of wool or other warm material was unpacked and used for keeping out the terrible cold. The arrival of the relief engine with provisions, spirits, etc, helped to lessen the sufferings of the half-frozen inmates of the snow-bound train, who were finally taken back to Albury. Arrived there, the party found a huge fire ready for them in the waiting-room, and hot coffee and the remainder of the provisions sent from Timaru were served out, and, needless to say, much appreciated. In the meanwhile the relief engine started back to Cricklewood to bring in, if possible, the derelict locomotive, frozen in there on the line, but it was found impossible to move it; and, lacking water and coal, it could not help in any way to extricate itself, and had, perforce, to be abandoned for another attempt, or until nature released it. It was thus impossible to continue the journey to Fairlie, which was the intention at first, and shortly after 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon the train started back for Timaru, arriving as described. Some of the passengers elected to remain at Albury while the majority returned to Timaru, after an unique experience. [The guard was Mr Low]
    Mr Robert Scott, the well-known coach-driver of Geraldine, returned to Timaru yesterday from a trip to the Grampians (Mr Wm. Grant's station), in the Mackenzie County. He describes the country as one sheet of snow two to three feet deep, with no "black country'" visible anywhere. He reached Fairlie on Tuesday night, and rode to Cricklewood, where he joined the train. The relief train was unable to move the snow-bound train, and it was only going back and making a dash at the frozen snow that any progress was possible. He pays a high compliment to the skill and perseverance of the engine driver of the relief train.


Photograph taken by J.E. Pigott on 11 July 1903.


Photograph taken by J.E. Pigott 1912-16.

26 April 2014 Timaru railway yard. Sunrise.

 DSC 2406 Builder: NZR Introduced: January 1964 Current Livery: Tranz Rail Blue Status: In service April 2014 Timaru. The DSC class is a heavy shunting locomotive used throughout NZ.

Please email me any photographs and old postcard images of South Canterbury for the site! Thanks.  Adopt a cemetery in South Canterbury.

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My viewers know more than I do.  We are very interested in what you know. We want to help you share.  volunteer: There are many opportunities for people to become involved in the GenWeb Project which is dedicated to making genealogical information available online for free.  South Canterbury war memorial transcriptions, cemetery listings, electoral rolls, Wises Directory information, school reunion announcements are areas where you can get involved. Does not take any special skills other than the desire to help others.  Also looking for volunteers to do lookups in genealogical material.  If anyone knows of information sources for South Canterbury or if you want to volunteer to help with lookups etc., please send me an email . I am looking for three more photos on South Canterbury scenes, buildings, events etc. with similar dimensions.  Images welcomed.

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