Imagine it’s the 1850’s in Sumner. It’s still early morning, you may be still in bed when in the dimness comes the faint rumble of pounding horse hooves. It grows louder and louder, then you catch the rider’s command to go faster…then the pounding faints away and you wearily open one sleepy eye…
I’m sure the Sumner residents back then would crack a smile when thinking about John Jenkins Peacock (1798 – 1868) and his great fear of falling rocks as he galloped from his Sumner home to Christchurch around the shoreline. After the past few years (2010/2011) we have just witnessed, I’m sure they would have a whole new respect for him!
John was a hard worker; he would wade out into the Lyttelton Harbour waters during a frost, no doubt with sacks of potatoes over his shoulders. He would load up his rowboat and then row over to his brig. He built the second jetty (which was known as Peacock’s Wharf) that has graced the harbour since 1857. It is still with us as “No. 7 Wharf” but of course, enlarged and modernized. He was a legend, he was a Pre-Adamite!
John had a son that would become a legend in his time too! John Thomas Peacock (1827 – 1905), a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council and the New Zealand Legislative Council. He was director of the Union Insurance Company, the Christchurch Meat Company, the Loan Association of Canterbury, The Press and the New Zealand Shipping Company. He owned the Christchurch Tramway Company and was President of the Canterbury Club which still graces the corner of Cambridge Terrace and Worcester Boulevard. In fact, the old gentleman’s club watches over the first gaslight fitted in the city…the two make great companions!
The man knew scandal…after his wife died suddenly just two days after celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, he goes and marries their adopted daughter!!! This didn’t break the law but socially could have been suicide!
So yes, the Peacock Foundation in the Botanical Gardens are in acknowledgement to this amazing Christchurch business man. He loved his city, feeding a lot of funds into the Christchurch Beautifying Association to help improve our view 🙂