James Jellie was born in Grey Valley, Greymouth in 1889. Even as a young lad, James seemed drawn to the wide open spaces and loved being in the outdoors.
He moved to Christchurch in 1917 and purchased 26 acres in Burnside/Bryndwr. He used the land as a commercial grower but lived at 321 Russley Road amongst his own poultry farm. He worked the land along side Greers Road for 20 years before he leased it out to some dairy farmers.
In the 1950’s the land surrounding the dairy farm was to be used for housing. It was then that James decided to gift his land to the people of Christchurch in the form of a recreational area. A competition was opened for the best designs for the land. The winning plan included a rugby field, a cricket pitch and a swimming pool.
It took a lot of convincing for James to let the Christchurch City Council name the park after him but finally Jellie Park was opened in 1960. Land was added in 1978 and 1995. The Pools opened in 1964. An upgrade to the pools was completed in 1988 and again in 2002 – the latter costing around 12 million dollars. The pools were damaged and were closed for repairs for quite a few months following the February 2011 earthquake.
Pictured here is the memorial to James Jellie for his generous gift to Christchurch.
*photo taken by Annette Bulovic*