At Freemans Cafe yesterday afternoon there was a reunion of passengers who came to the Dominion in the ship Lancashire Witch which arrived at Lyttleton fifty years ago, on October 13th,1863. There was a gratifyingly large number mustered, over which Mr Henry Holland (Mayor of Christchurch) presided. It was on the initiative of Mr. Holland that the gathering was held .Those present who were passengers on the "Lancashire Witch" were:
Mr. Henry Holland (Mayor of Christchurch)
Mr .Charles Yates (Chch)
Mr .R. Munro (Chch)
Mrs. William Elliott (Bennetts Junction)
Mrs. N. Barton (formerly Miss Louisa Breesall)
Mrs .C. Jones (Sydenham)
Mrs. J .F .Fleming (Chch)
Mr .J .Sinclair (Chch)
Mr .G .W. Leadley (Ashburton)
Mrs. Giles (nee Mary Ann Cass)
Mrs Fitzpatrick (nee Mary Jane Leadley)
Walter Prestidge, Jesse Prestidge
J .H .Helliwell
Thomas Arthur Dixon
J .W .Bowman
Mr.Richard Berry Wells (Timaru)
Mr.M.Winter (Bennetts Junction)
Mrs .J .W .Sawle (nee Miss Jane Shepherd)
Mrs. G .R .Rankin (nee Miss Mary Draffin, Spreydon)
Mrs .C .Hadfield (Chch)
Mr .G.W .Holland
In addition Mrs. James Walter Smart (nee Elizabeth Ann Munton) and her sister Mrs Robert Kingsbury (nee Eliza Munton) travelled by train from Ashburton and Cust respectively to attend this reunion and may have been later arrivals at the reunion. The party sat down to afternoon tea and the opportunity was taken advantage of for an interchange of reminiscences. The Mayor, after the toast of "The King" had been honoured, read apologies from several passengers who found it impossible to be present.
The apologies were from:
Mr.G .W. Allen (12 Dublin St, Christchurch)
Mr.J .Robbie (Palmerston North)
Mr. Thomas Prestidge (Addington)
Mrs. and Miss Menzies (Opawa)
Mr. Robert N .Adair (Bryndwwyr) and others.
Mr Holland said that as one of the younger generation of those who landed by the Lancashire Witch, it gave him great pleasure to see so large a gathering of those who had landed in Christchurch under circumstances somewhat different from those now existing. He had been informed that the site on which the building stood in which they were assembled was bought originally at 38 pounds per foot, and that recently 500 pounds per foot had been refused for it. He referred to the few incidents of the voyage of the "Witch" that he could recall.
Mr. George Holland said that he had been looking foward with keen pleasure to the days function. He could remember coming from Lyttleton to the ferry in a little steamer. At the time when the "Witch" arrived he did not think that there was then a room large enough in Christchurch to hold them; and if there had been, the streets would have been left very bare.
He thought that without egotism he could claim that the passengers of the "Witch" had left their mark on the history of the Dominion. They had supplied a Mayor for Christchurch and one of the passengers, the late Mr.P. Duncan, had founded an agricultural implements works that would do credit to a bigger country. He hoped that all present were happy and prosperous, and thought that a fitting manner in which to commemorate the anniversary of the arrival of the "Witch" was by extending a helping hand to those who had not been so fortunate or by assisting those who had suffered by the recent colliery catastrophe in Wales.
Mr.G.W. Leadley, in proposing the health of "Surviving Shipmates" said that they were only a remnant seeing that the "Witch" brought 430 souls to the Dominion. The passengers by the "Witch" could claim that they had not lived and laboured in vain, but had assisted in taming the wilderness and made it bloom like the rose. He saw present Mr .Prestidge, whose father Jacob Prestidge was noteworthy for having brought the largest family to the Dominion in the "Witch". The toast was heartily honoured and several of those present spoke to it.
Mr.G. Holland proposed the toast of "Departed Shipmates" which was fittingly honoured. Before the gathering broke up the party was photographed.
(Christchurch NZ "Press" Saturday 18 October 1913 Reunion held at Freemans Cafe held on Friday,17th October 1913,with additions of two persons known to have attended but not reported as such)
FIFTY YEARS AGO
Lancashire Witch came in on Tuesday last with 420 passengers and the Victory with 200 more is now outside the Heads ,yet not a soul has been landed from the former vessel at the time we write this.
Report says that the immigrants were to be landed in Camp Bay, but that the houses recently erected there were found to be unfit to receive them. We hear also that the Immigration Officer in Lyttleton is incapacitated from ill health ,but these can hardly be considered sufficient reasons for keeping 400 people confined to the limits of a ship one hour longer than necessary.(reprinted in "Lyttleton Times" in their issue of Oct 18,1913)