No beneficiary found for tiny piece of central Christchurch land ownerless for 120 years

The Government acquired the tiny piece of land by proclamation for the south frame development.
STACY SQUIRES / STUFF

The Government acquired the tiny piece of land by proclamation for the south frame development.

The Government has claimed a piece of land that belonged to Christchurch's first mayor after efforts to find an heir failed.

William Barbour Wilson, known as Cabbage Wilson because of his horticultural background, died 120 years ago and the land has sat ownerless since.

Wilson was elected as the city's first mayor in 1867. He was a significant landowner – including several plant nurseries and 183 square metres of land in a now-abandoned former Lichfield St laneway. 

A photograph of a painting of Christchurch's first mayor William Barbour "Cabbage" Wilson. Artist unknown.
SUPPLIED

A photograph of a painting of Christchurch's first mayor William Barbour "Cabbage" Wilson. Artist unknown.

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It does not have a street number, sitting between 130 and 132 Lichfield St, running behind High St bar Smash Palace. It has a rateable valuation of $150,000. 

It was possibly part of his 18-acre nursery than ran along Ferry Rd and High St in the 1850s.

William Wilson was the first president of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam & Pigeon Club, the subject of 2017 film ...
Supplied

William Wilson was the first president of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam & Pigeon Club, the subject of 2017 film Pecking Order.

In February Land Information New Zealand (Linz) asked the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister – then Gerry Brownlee – to recommend the land be taken by proclamation.

In a report to the minister Linz said it took "all reasonable steps" to locate any living beneficiaries of Wilson's estate, including placing ads in The Press and using a specialist genealogy company.

No such beneficiary was found. It seems the land has sat largely ignored since Wilson's death in 1897.

There were six easements on the land, allowing neighbouring property owners to use it.

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The government took ownership in May. It will be used for the south frame development. 

Wilson was born in Scotland in 1819 and arrived in New Zealand in 1850. He married in Christchurch and had 13 children.

At one point he owned 18 acres in the central city. He was involved with several businesses including the Halswell quarries.

He was the first president of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam & Pigeon Club, which recently came to fame as the subject of the film Pecking Order.

Wilson was an alleged wife beater and was convicted of fraud in 1876.

After his conviction, Wilson was elected to council one more time in 1878. Five councillors resigned in protest.

According to Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, "Wilson frequently used land for nursery purposes until it became too valuable for further use; it was then subdivided or leased."

 - Stuff

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