ST ALBANS – Harriet Mellon (1777 – 1837)

Many of the early settlers just kept going past the area of St Albans. It wasn’t just the extremely boggy land, but the 10 foot or so toi toi was also a great deterent! If that wasn’t enough for some, the horse and buggy that disappeared in the mud never to be seen again was almost the last nail in the coffin!

By 1856, attempts were made to tame the area. By stamping down the flax and toi toi, sand was then poured over to make the first roads and paths. The streets today acknowledge these first families that faced the challenge: Bishop, Canon, Chapter and Purchas.

Among these families was George Dickenson who arrived in Lyttelton in 1851 from Sheffield, England. He had a well celebrated cousin, Harriet Mellon, who was known not only for her beauty but also her acting career. Married a few times, one of her husbands earned her the noble title of being the Duchess of St Albans. Although she had been dead for almost 30 years when George was making his way in the tussock, she must have been a lasting persona in his mind. The area was named after her. In 1860, he began to sell off his St Albans land in quarter acre lots for £15!

St Albans was its own borough at first with George himself being on the council during the 1880’s. He was also a member of the Avon Road Board and attended St Mary’s Church (victim of the 2011 earthquakes) in Merivale. In 1903, St Albans became a part of Christchurch.

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