Crawford’s Spur

“I ventured into the great speculation of buying four cows from Crawford for £60, but not till after great deliberation and timorousness. Calculating on selling the milk as we did not want ourselves…concluded the bargain with Crawford for the four cows, which being milked this evening produced seven quarts, which sold in the yard for one shilling and tenpence – our first profits!”

Edward Ward – 1st February 1851

When the ‘Charlotte Jane’ arrival, Edward Ward, was doing business with Charles Crawford, Charles was wearing his ‘cattle trader’ hat, one of many different hats that he wore over his life-time. Maybe this quote about him highlights how he was a jack of all trades and motivations.“…a publican, brewer, agitator – a conceited man without pretensions…”Charles Crawford first appears in Canterbury’s history as early as 1844. As he was the owner of a whaler’s ship, one can make the easy assumption that that was how he came to our shores. He must have liked what he saw of Bank Peninsula’s because he dropped anchor, changed his ship to a transporting service and made an attempt to purchase his own land.He found work at Purau with the Greenwood Brothers, becoming a sheppard. When the Greenwoods built a small cottage on the top of Mt Pleasant as an out-station of their run, Charles moved in to watch over the Greenwood’s interests from that position.
When the early surveyors began their work in the late 1840’s, the sweep of Mt Pleasant (above Monck’s Spur as we know it today) became known as Crawford’s Spur. As Charles’ little cottage formed the base of a survey, triangulated with Papanui and Riccarton Bush, it’s not hard to see how that name came about.But even before all that, Charles had tried his hand at many business ventures in Akaroa. He opened the ‘Commercial Coffee House’ which sat beside the still well-known Bruce Hotel, facing out onto the water front. When he grew tired of that, he stepped it up a few notches by opening and operating a Brothel or a Bawdy House as it was known back then.Purau was next for Charles – he was still perched up on Crawford’s Spur when Purau was sold to the Rhodes Brothers in 1847. It seemed he didn’t always spend his time up in the clouds as the very first bridge that crossed the Heathcote River was known as Crawford’s Bridge. It consisted of two felled Totaras and was well used by the surveyors in their travels. Crawford’s efforts were replaced in 1851 by the Canterbury Provincial Council. It was upgraded again in 1862 and the bridge we know today was built in 1964 – close to Waltham Park.

When the Port Cooper Plains (Canterbury Plains) were finally chosen for the settlement of Christchurch in 1849, Charles found employment as a builder. For Chief Surveyor Captain Joseph Thomas, Charles put together the first building in Sumner – the Canterbury Assocation Store – in November 1849 – a store for which Joseph could lock away his equipment when off the clock. That store was located the beginning of Clifton Hill Road.
Charles also built wooden support systems for the Bridle Path and helped with the build in Lyttelton before the arrival of the First Four Ships.

Always keen to grab an opportunity, Charles offered a transportation service from Lyttelton to Heathcote via his old Whaler’s boat. He also opened the first punting service across the Heathcote for those using the Bridle Path. His prices were considered criminal so many found a different way to Christchurch – some even wading across the river with their belongings held up over their heads.

Charles took over the ownership of the Norwich Quay Hotel in Lyttelton next and dabbled in cattle trading, where he was at the service of Edward Ward as we read earlier.

It seems fitting that Charles’ next adventure was politics. He was elected into the Canterbury Provincial Council in 1855. And this is where Charles Crawford disappears into history.

As for Crawford’s Spur –  a term which is mostly forgotten – it became known as Moncks Spur in 1869 when John Stanley Moncks moved into Sumner. By 1881, he owned most of the land there and some properties in Redcliffs too.

*image of Monck’s Spur courtesy of*
*photo of Crawford’s Bridge taken by Annette Bulovic*

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