There is very little about the earliest days of Scarborough or who named it as such. What follows is the puzzle I have put together with the few clues left me.
George Rhodes arrived at Lyttelton Harbour in 1843 to become an overseer and partner of his elder brother – William Barnard Rhodes – who had business interests on Banks Peninsula. The Rhodes Brothers (William, George and Robert) were the first to put hoof stock on the Peninsula and by the time the First Four Ships arrived, they were great land owners. They were based at Purau (the bay opposite the Port of Lyttelton) and their farmland stretched outwards to Tai Tapu and round the Port Hills to Scarborough.
Theodosia Maria Heaton, the brother’s mother, had long family ties with Yorkshire and it was here that her sons – William Barnard in particular – fell in love with the sea. Scarborough is a seaside resort in Yorkshire; could our Sumner Heads have reminded William, George and Robert of a favourite childhood haunt? This theory is further backed up by the fact that when George took up land down south in 1850, he named the family’s new enterprise ‘The Levels’ after family land in…you guessed it, Yorkshire. This farmland is now the township of Timaru!
In 1849, George went into a partnership with Major Alfred Hornbrook, who had just arrived at Lyttelton. Alfred took over what became the Mt Pleasant Run which also included Scarborough. He not only worked this piece of land but also opened ‘The Mitre’ hotel in Lyttelton, easily the first of its kind in the region. ‘The Mitre’ is still with us today and the battle is currently underway to get this historic gem repaired and back in fine form from its quake damage.
Oddly, 10 hectares of this expansive estate was owned by an Australian, Charles Church Halsewood. Tragically in 1858, Charles was maintaining his rifle when he raised his candle up to make sure the barrel was clean. Some gunpowder remained and an explosion followed. The next day, Charles died of his wounds.
In 1870, Alfred sold the Mt Pleasant Run to Richard May Morten and moved on to other farming projects.
The Major and his family eventually moved on to Australia and it was there he died in 1893. Richard and his sons farmed Mt Pleasant and the suburb of Hillmorten is named in memory of this family today. When Richard died in 1909, the first area to subdivided from Morten farmland was Scarborough. The first sections went on sale in 1911.
During the 1950’s, the Sumner Heads adopted a new nickname. Whitewash Heads – due to all the droppings of the sea birds that nest there.
*Attached is the photo of Arthur Edgar Gravenor Rhodes, one of the sons of George Rhodes*
*Photo of Whitewash Road Sign courtesy of http://wozamark.blogspot.co.nz*