Christchurch’s “Accepted” Steepest Road Gets Listed – 1908

In 1908, 10 years after first appearing in a newspaper advertisement, Hackthorne Road was listed in the Christchurch street directory.  It is believed to be Christchurch’s steepest road.

Although unconfirmed, it most likely began as a simple farm track and was named by the Cracroft Wilson family who established Cashmere Farm (the southern boundary once reached as far as Governors Bay) in 1854.  Indian born, Sir John Cracroft Wilson had heard about Canterbury while in Australia – and liked what he heard.  With his family, servants and over 1000 sheep in tow, he led them over the Bridle Path to his newly purchased 108 hectares at the base of the Port Hills which he named after his favourite place in India – Kashmir.

After setting up the farm for his eldest son to run, he returned to India the following year to continue serving as a magistrate – including during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 for which he was knighted.

He returned to Christchurch in 1859 keen to retire but he soon found himself a member of the  House of Representatives, the Legislative Council and the Canterbury Provincial Council, just to name a few.  He died in his Cashmere home (which has subsequently been demolished due to quake damage in 2012) on 2nd March 1881 and is buried at St Mary’s Anglican Church in Halswell.

Although Hackthorne Road is spelt with an ‘e’, the correct spelling is Hackthorn – named after a small village in Lincolnshire, England that was established during the Roman-era.  The current population is just over a couple of hundred people.

Land was inherited there by the Cracrofts in 1618 and in 1792 work began on Hackthorn Hall. The property is still in the family today with the present owner being William Cracroft-Eley.

*Photo taken by Annette Bulovic*

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