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Fitzgerald's Town

One of those who owned

One of those who owned one or two sections was George Jennings who bought two in Maurice Street and built on one of them. Born at Wrexham, England, in 1838, he arrived at Lyttelton with his wife and four children in 1874; two more children were born to them in New Zealand. They first lived in Sydenham, but by 1878 they had moved to Lincoln where he bought Lot 15, Block IV, fronting Maurice Street (now No. 11) and on which he built his cottage which with additions remained standing, albeit in a derelict state, until its demolition in about 1995. In 1888 George bought his second Maurice Street section for 26 pounds and twenty years later sold it to Jehu Barter for 30 pounds. At these prices it is obvious that it was still an empty section and indeed it was not until the 1950’s that a house (now No. 10 Maurice Street), was built on it. George was a bricklayer by trade and doubtless built many chimneys and fireplaces in Lincoln and the surrounding district during his working life. It is possible that he worked on Ivey Hall at Lincoln Agricultural College, now Lincoln University, the construction of which was completed in 1880 and perhaps on Bartram’s hotel built in 1885. Active in village life, he was a long serving member of the Lincoln Masonic Lodge, Vicar’s Warden (1897 – 1900) and People’s Warden (1904 – 1910) at St. Stephen’s, and was a keen supporter of the Lincoln Library which building he helped move from its original position opposite the primary school to its present site in Liffey Domain where it is now known as Pioneer Hall. His wife, Jane, died in Lincoln in 1918 and George died in Christchurch six years later in 1924. Both are buried in the Springston Public Cemetery. In 1869 a Rangiora surgeon bought two sections fronting Gerald Street (Block II, Lots 2 and 3) for 28 pounds, and thirteen years later sold them for 70 pounds, a good return on his investment. The buyer, Mary Ann Blythen, a widow, promptly sold Lot 3 to the Baptist Church for 40 pounds, but retained Lot 2 which was inherited by her daughter in 1914. Lot 2 was eventually sold in 1925 to Thomas Hewton, garage proprietor, for 100 pounds. In 1882 Mrs Blythen also bought the section on the corner of Gerald Street and West Belt (Lot 1) now McCormick Motors, for which she paid 50 pounds, just over four times the amount paid to FitzGerald in the early 1860’s. At this price it is unlikely that a house was included in the sale. The widow’s daughter eventually inherited this property which in 1925 she sold to Thomas Hewton for 260 pounds and for this price a house must have been on site, presumably built by Mrs Blythen about the time she bought the section in 1882. 14

Mary Ann Blythen (née Page) was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1821, and came to New Zealand about 1876 with her husband George and daughter. She was widowed in the six years between arriving in New Zealand and coming to Lincoln where she lived until shortly before her death in 1914 at the age of 93. Her occupation, given as domestic duties on the 1908 electoral roll, suggests that she either worked in some capacity as a domestic or she may have been solely concerned with maintaining her own home. Her daughter was a teacher, but whether at Lincoln or elsewhere is not known, and for a time was vice-president of the Lincoln Mutual Improvement Society. There were others who settled in Lincoln during the 19 th century, and these are mentioned in sections relating to agricultural activities, businesses, clubs and societies. However, Lincoln was still a small village at the end of the 19 th century, and although by then most sections had been bought, it does not imply that the village developed at a rapid rate. Indeed, Lincoln grew slowly and it was not until after World War II that any significant expansion began. Even then growth was not particularly fast until the early 21st century by which time the original subdivision was filled with housing and new developments, including the retirement complex opposite the primary school, and subdivisions such as Ryelands, The Palms, Heathridge and Liffey Fields were formed. Lincoln therefore retained its village atmosphere for most of the 20 th century and it is only during the last two decades that it has taken on the status of a small town. It is tempting to think that the coming of the railway boosted the price of land in the village, but the evidence presented suggests otherwise. In some cases prices did rise after the opening of the Southbridge line, in others they did not move much beyond inflation, and in others a marked rise in price probably indicates that a cottage or a house had been built on an empty section. Sources and Notes 1. The Weekly Press 7 October 1876 15

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