“On the east side of Market Place stood Mr. Gould’s General Store with a great barrier in the middle of the floor filled with fascinating coils of rope-like tobacco – fascinating because we thought it was good to having (having I suppose watched sailors and Maoris chewing lumps) till an experimentalising younger brother nearly put an end to himself with a few “commandeered’ inches”.
Memories of Elizabeth Hawdon nee Barker
Even though George Gould and his young bride were in Wellington at the time of the arrival of the Canterbury Association’s First Four Ships, George would be the first in the central city of Christchurch to have a completed house standing. It was in this humble structure that George made his living, a living that is very much a part of the working life of Christchurch today.
George was born in England in 1825. As a young man he worked for the Great Western Railway Company and was well liked and successful. In Nov 1850, he and his new wife Hannah were amongst the immigrants in Wellington but by February the following year, they were coming off a ship in Lyttelton.
I’m sure George first got noticed by his fellow settlers as he had arrived with his small house already built. It was sailed around to Sumner and taken into Christchurch by the Avon River. There on the eastern corner of Colombo and Armagh Street it was placed. This was the first General Store in Christchurch.
You can imagine that business boomed for George as more settlers came off the ships. He was soon able to expand his business to also become a financier. He also took up wheat farming and was a co-owner of a farm out in Springfield. In 1856, he purchased 100 acres of land that sat on the corner of Bealey Ave and Springfield Road. There he built a fine home he named ‘Hambleden’, named after the town where he was born. There he died on the 28th March 1889. He was a very well-respected and liked early settler.
Sadly, this homestead did not survive the earthquake of the 22nd February 2011. It completely collapsed and its site still sits empty today.
George Gould Snr. is buried at Barbadoes Street Cemetery.
82 Bealey Road, known today as Eliza’s Manor Boutique Hotel was also purchased by George in 1856 and sat across the road from Hambledon. A homestead was built here in 1861 and was later sold to Maurice Harris two years later. In a nice twist, the property was then purchased by the Gould’s future business partner – F.H Pyne in 1908. Huge extensions and upgrades were made. During the 1920’s, it became the boarding house for St Margaret’s College, served as a private hospital and a boarding house for ladies. Today it is Eliza’s Manor Boutique Hotel and survived the quakes of 2010/2011/2012. http://www.elizas.co.nz/
George Gould Jnr. was born to George and his second wife Elizabeth in 1865. Sadly for both the Gould men, Elizabeth died just two years later. I’m sure young George grew up very much in the knowledge of his father’s business as he took a very similar path in his life.
After a few years at Christ College, George’s education was continued in England. He became a very keen fisherman, hunter and horseman. On his arrival back in Canterbury, he took up farming out in Springston. In 1889 he married Helen Maude and the pair would go to have 2 sons and 3 daughters.
In 1893 he joined his half brother Joseph in the family business that was now known as Gould, Beaumont and Co. Even with this venture, George kept up his farming, establishing himself as a good stock breeder. He imported Suffolk sheep to the region in 1913 and cross bred them with Southdowns and had great success. This recongnised species is known today as South Suffolks. He also brought Guerney Cattle to Canterbury.
Another great love for George was racing horses. In 1891 he became a member of the Canterbury Jockey Club. In 1915 he became the treasurer and served as chairman twice during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Every year during that 40 years, he bred prize winning race horses.
In 1903, he became the director of the Christchurch Press Company and remained as such until his death in 1941. In 1919, there was a merger with another merchant company known as Pyne, Guinness and LeCren Ltd. Henry LeCren had also arrived in Lyttelton in 1851 and with his cousin John Longden opened a store in Lyttelton. They soon moved to Christchurch and the store they built is now known to us as The Pegasus Arms on Oxford Terrace. Together they became the largest stock and station agents in New Zealand. Today we know this company as the Pyne Gould Corporation and the spin-off company of PGG Wrightson.
The number of companies and committees that George was involved in are too numerous to list. The most vivid example of what George gave to our city is the Citizen’s War Memorial in Cathedral Square. In 1920, many projects to honour the fallen of World War I were on the table. George wanted to finance a memorial column to be erected opposite the Cathedral. Although fully backed by the Anglican Diocese, it wasn’t by the C.C.C. The Bridge of Remembrance was chosen and opened in 1924. In 1933 when a tram shed was demolished and Godley’s Statue (which sat beside the Cathedral at that time) was to be moved back to its original site, George again made his suggestion for another memorial. As the Anglican Diocese owned the land and said yes, the project went ahead at full stream. The Citizen’s War Memorial was unveiled on the 9th June 1937.
George died in 1941 and all his business interests were taken over by his son Derrick and the family still remains involved in many of them.
*photo of Quake damaged sign taken by Annette Bulovic*