8 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

Andrew Melville Arklie,

Andrew Melville Arklie, born in Perthshire, Scotland in 1833, migrated to Canterbury in 1862 with his wife Betsy. He probably worked as a farm labourer in the first few years after his arrival – his occupation on the ship’s passenger list - but nothing much is known of him apart from the fact that he was the first publican in Lincoln, that he was once cautioned for selling beer and wine on a Sunday, was involved in two concerts in 1870, and that his name appears in electoral rolls and directories as being a Lincoln resident until 1881. However, it is possible that he moved to Christchurch after selling the hotel, for an advertisement in The Press 14 states that A. Arklie had opened a confectionery business in Christchurch at which tea and coffee was available at any time; the shop was two doors from The Press office. David William Bartram was born in Shropshire in 1834. There he married Elizabeth Turner a few years before migrating to Christchurch in 1865 where he worked as a carpenter. About twelve years later he moved to Lincoln when he bought two sections in Robert Street (Lots 15 and 17 and now No’s 17 and 19), and in 1881 contracted to build the new Presbyterian church. In that year he bought two sections across the street from his earlier Robert Street purchases where the Bartram family lived for many years afterwards. It was at about this time that be bought the Perthshire Arms which he replaced with the new hotel building on its corner section as noted above. David and Elizabeth had two sons, Arthur Charles, born 2 March 1860 and David William Harry, born 6 May 1864, who established the firm Bartram and Company as coal and wood merchants based on Robert Street, and presumably on the land bought by their father. Later the firm expanded their activities as grain merchants, and ironmongers and a 1902 calendar hangs in the kitchen of Liffey Cottage advertising the firm as an agent for an insurance business. David William Harry was a man of great energy who not only managed the company, but was also active in most aspects of Lincoln life. When he and his wife retired to Christchurch in 1924 they were honoured at a farewell function where it was said that his contribution to the local community had earned him the title of mayor of Lincoln! Besides his business activities he had been People’s Warden at St. Stephen’s for many years, a long serving member of the Druids Lodge, an active member of the school committee, including terms as chairman and deputy chairman, and a member of the committee elected to move the library to its present location where it stands as the Pioneer Hall. Arthur Charles was born in England in February 1860 and was four years older than his brother who was born in Christchurch in 1864. Judged from the available records, Arthur was not as active 22

in local affairs as his brother although he was a member of the local school committee for some time and for some years was secretary of the Druids Star of Anglesea Lodge in Lincoln and a member of its sister lodge in Springston. For many years the only room suitable for public gatherings in Lincoln was the schoolroom. Although it was used for dances and concerts it was barely adequate for the purpose and so in 1876 15 residents decided to build a town hall with capital raised from shareholders (shares to cost one pound each) who elected a committee to canvass the district for support. A month later the committee reported that applications for 200 shares had been received and on that basis submitted a rough estimate for a building 50 feet x 24 feet. The committee was then asked to select a suitable site, draw up rules and regulations for the enterprise, and to report back when necessary. Sadly, their efforts came to nothing and it was not until 1886 that Mr. Hill, husband of the proprietor of the hotel, bought the old Perthshire Arms building and converted it into a town hall. David William Harry Bartram carried out the necessary alterations and a Mr. W. Lawrence of Christchurch was the painter and decorator. Lincoln could boast of a fine town hall, 60 feet long by 30 feet wide, with all necessary facilities, including a large stage beneath which were the dressing rooms. The new hall was opened in grand style 16 on 23 December 1886 with a fundraising concert and ball organised by the Sports Committee to supplement the prize money for the forthcoming New Year’s Day sports. Imagine the excitement and anticipation as the evening began, with opening remarks from the chairman of the sports committee, the Revd. A.P. O’Callaghan. The concert and ball were a great success and the sports committee undoubtedly profited from the event. The building was well used until one blustery night in 1889 it was destroyed by a spectacular fire which razed the building to the ground in about 30 minutes 17 . The villagers could not save the hall, but they saved the horses in the nearby stables and they fought for the new hotel next door and Howell’s store on the other side of the square with the only tools they had – buckets of water. The heat of the fire broke many windows in the hotel and sparks carried by the wind threatened the store, but the bucket brigade saved the day! The cause of the fire remained a mystery; the township had to wait another seven years before the Druids built on Gerald Street and a suitable hall was again available. That building is now incorporated in the Community Centre presently 23

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