7 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

established in March

established in March 1869 with a capital of 150 pounds, raised easily enough at the founding meeting when Messrs Knight, Wright, Goodwin, Lawry, and Glyde were appointed directors. Knight, a member of the Provincial Council, who was elected chairman, made it quite clear that although the intention was to hold periodic fairs in Lincoln township from which auctioneers were to be excluded, the aim was not to undermine those held at the Wheatsheaf. The company office, sheep and cattle yards, were built on three acres of land adjacent to the school house, which owners Messrs Wright and Murray let for a nominal rental. The first sale was held in June 1869 at which charges per entry were: horses 1 shilling each; cattle 9 pence a head; sheep 9 pence per score; pigs 6 pence each; sow and litter 1 shilling. There was no charge for the sale of implements. According to the Lyttelton Times 6 the yards “were well planned, very substantial” and their location and facilities were so good that the company was bound to be well supported. There were more than 100 entries of cattle, despite the fact that some of the larger dealers had been scouring the neighbourhood for fat stock a few days previously, and had bought some lots that otherwise would have been sent to the fair. Beef sold readily at 30 shillings per 100 pound weight, and one or two prime lots realised as much as 35 shillings. Store steers and heifers fetched from two to eight pounds, and good milking cows were sought, but there was little interest in sheep. Fat pigs were sold at about three pence per pound weight. Refreshments were supplied by Mr Sluis of the Perthshire Arms. For the first two years beer and sandwiches were served from an open bar, exposing patrons to the vagaries of the weather. This unsatisfactory situation changed when a refreshment room, built by Henry Meyenberg, was opened in September 1871 7 with “a capital lunch provided at a cost of one shilling per head by Mr Sluis…” At first sales were held quarterly, but early support encouraged directors to hold the sales on a monthly basis. Unfortunately the early promise faltered, and in an attempt to increase custom, auction sales were permitted from September 1872 when Matson and Company announced that they would be available every fair day - the first Tuesday of the month - to conduct sales and to advise on current market values. However, not everyone wanted an auctioneer nor were they all willing to pay the small charge levied by the company, and so some sold outside the yards. This 42

was seen as a major disadvantage to the company and those who did so were warned that they were not wanted and so forced to use other facilities at higher cost. Patronage did not improve and in 1876 fairs were abandoned 8 . However, the Farmer’s Club (see later) continued to hold its annual show for another four years, and auction sales were held from time to time until about 1883. Fees derived from these events and the rent paid by the Road Board for the use of the fair ground as a public pound were the only source of income when fairs were abandoned. Business was at a standstill and since there was no reason to continue, especially since the original objectives of the company had been realised, it was decided to sell the property by tender and to cease operations. This was the final act of the Lincoln Fair Company which played an important role in the economic development of Lincoln and the surrounding district in the early days of settlement. The Lincoln Farmers’ Club From the beginning of settlement efforts were made to improve the lot of those who worked on the land and in 1851 a letter to the Lyttelton Times suggested that an agricultural society could work towards this end. Although a society was formed it soon collapsed, as did the Canterbury Farmers’ Club which held its first meeting in 1858. Despite this unpromising start interest continued to grow and in the next decade several clubs, including the Ellesmere Farmers’ Club, were established. This last survives today as the Ellesmere Agricultural and Pastoral Association. It was clear to local farmers that standards needed to improve and that in order to protect their interests collective action was necessary. In 1870 the matter was raised at a harvest dinner in Prebbleton and about a year later “Colonial”, writing in the Lyttelton Times 9 noted that the success which has attended the Ellesmere Farmers’ Club should encourage farmers in other districts to make a move in the same direction; and if they did so, I see no reason why their efforts should not be attended with the same success as those of the Ellesmere farmers have been. The ideas expressed in the letter were widely held and it was decided to call a public meeting to consider forming a farmers’ club in the Lincoln and Springs districts. This initiative, supported by A.C. Knight, A.P. O’Callaghan, J.N. Tosswill, J. Gammack and F. Marchant, leaders of local farming communities, resulted in the formation of the Lincoln Farmers’ Club. 10 43

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