The historical development of the South Malvern district, Canterbury, 1859-1900
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
So wrote Frederick Broome when he left his sheep-run at "Broomielaw", now called "steventon”, to seek a new life in Australia. To those low hills, dominated by "Flagpole" and by the mountain ranges beyond, and to that "valley of grass” through which the Selwyn River winds its sprawling way towards the open plains, my own thoughts went back for the subject of this thesis. When Broome knew it the Selwyn valley was most probably a wide sea of tussock and flax, with an occasional cabbage-tree as lonely sentinel. The only habitation, then, consisted in the homesteads of three early Canterbury runs -- those of Homebush, Steventon, and Malvern Hills.
The district has changed much since then. It is still small, however, and relatively unimportant. In some places gorse and broom have replaced the tussocks and flax of long ago, and in recent years, have closed in like an invading host on the small townships of Whitecliffs, South Malvern, Glentunnel and Coalgate which, close to the railway line, comprise the South Malvern district. None of these is important, and their names would scarcely be known outside the Canterbury province. Coal-mining and clay-working, with a little timber-milling, are the only important secondary industries and farming is on a limited scale. It is a district without perhaps a promising future but certainly with a fascinating and interesting past. It is the past with which this study is mainly concerned.