Hornby: Grand Beginnings
The area we now know as Hornby was from the mid 1860s simply considered an outlying part of Riccarton, and home to a number of great houses, the property of important landowners.
"Ablington" was the first of these houses, built in 1858 on what was known then as Shands Track. It was bought in 1866 by Canterbury businessman and farmer Richard M. Morten and renamed "Broadlands". In 1874 it was re-named "Oakhampton", and later still "Branston Farm".
"Stoneycroft" was built in 1863 by one George A.E. Ross and used as a base for his considerable farming interests. His success however was shortlived for in 1867 he was declared bankrupt and sold the house to Richad Morten. Arthur R.V. Morten who inherited "Stoneycroft" on the death of his father in 1909 dismantled the house and built a new one alongside. This new building was acquired by the government in 1919 and used by out-patients from Sunnyside Hospital. It was later re-named "Hornby Lodge".
The third and arguably most impressive of these large houses was "Woodcote". Built in 1866, it was bought in 1878 by Sarah Bassett, subsequently greatly expanded and surrounded by extensive gardens. However as was often the case in these times, the family’s circumstances were to change and the splendour of "Woodcote" disappeared; the family was forced to move, but were unable to sell the house. The building survived into the early years of the twentieth century, but the end came when it burned down.
Another early house was "Crisis Lodge, on the site of what is now Hornby Mall. Built in 1875 by Robert Reay, a prominent figure in racing circles, it was sold to Dr. Henry H. Prins in 1880 who continued to use it to breed and train racehorses until his death in 1896. The new owner, George Hamill, subdivided it into 50 sections, and around 1900 the house itself was moved to a site on Shands Road where it stood until demolished in 1963.
- McBride, I. The Paparua County, Canterbury Public Library, 1990.
- The Press, 30 August 1978