Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Angus Gordon - Clifton Station

Tonights meeting was attended by approximately 78 interested members of the community, as well as Library Staff and Landmarks Local History Committee members.
A 140-year old sheep and cattle station at Clifton Beach, which has been in the same family for five generations. From the exquisite homestead, throught to the extensive coastal garden farm buildings and old woolshed the ornate history has been preserved.
The homestead, a 100-year old two storied colonial mansion looks across the Bay to Napier and the Mahia Peninsula. From the top of the hill behind the house, you will be rewarded with views over all of Hawke's Bay and a short walk will take you to some early Maori dwelling sites.

The book came about through a number of factors, the largest one being the safe in the homestead. It was full of old documents, books, letters & accounts dating back to the 1870's.
Frank Gordon was not interested in history but was a great station manager and stickler for detail. Frank reported back to England at least each month sometimes more often. He would give a summary of activities, detailing numbers of sheep, wool prices, sales costs of feed and accounts paid etc. This combined with family requesting the history be kept alive increased the desire to write a book. Originally to be the great New Zealand novel, the first paragraph
"the light is Grecian, hectic on the exposed brow, but soft on the perception, draining in its lucidity, but quite fluid. it filters though the manuka trees along the cliff tops, dropping off the edge into the bay. The bay which is clam, stony but sandy in spells hold clues to light , which are not altogether historical..."
but after the second paragraph
"... An elegant full masted schooner slips across the horizon and enters a brand new dimension of time... the owner is my great great grandfather James Gillespie Gordon accompanied withone of his son's William Cracoft Gordon..."
decided that it would be non fiction - a factual story about the family and the Clifton Station area.
James Gillespie Gordon was born 1794 in Dumfries, Scotland the son of Thomas and Agnes Gordon of Clouden Bank, Dumfries. Agnes had been a Kirkpatrick and was the first Cousin of William Kirkpatrick, the Grandfather of Empress Eugenie of France , Napoleon III’s wife.
James married Elizabeth Don of the wealthy jute manufacturing family of Dons in Forfar, Scotland. They had two sons Thomas Edward Gordon and William Cracroft Gordon. James his fortune as a merchant in Benares, India.
After the Indian Mutiny in 1857 he returned to India to find the bank crash had severely depleted his assets and was faced with having to start a new life. He saw an opportunity in sailing to New Zealand to make a new start, being able to buy a lot of newly available land at reasonably cheap prices.
James had a schooner and came to New zealand in 1861 to check out the feasibly of his idea
James Gillespie Gordon decided sheep farming in the newly developing colony of New Zealand was the way to go for the future of the family now and for generations to come.
James Gillespie Gordon by the time he arrived in New Zealand in 1866 was a white haired gentleman.The original Clifton Station of 13,500 acres was purchased in 1859 from the Crown by James for ₤3375 (this included the later purchase of the Ranga Ika Block). It stretched from Cape Kidnappers to Ocean Beach. He went back to get his family and loaded the schooner up with timber and prefabricated teak house blocks for the homestead he wanted to build and some Indian army mules. He bought with him all the antique furniture and other personal belongings and headed for New Zealand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agnes Kirkpatrick was a sister of my 3 times grear grandmother, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick. Would like to share some family history.
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