The Coachhouse, Balcairn, Nth Canterbury, New Zealand 1877 - 1993

The Coachhouse at Balcairn [32 Cornwall Terrace] was built around 1877 by John LISTER who was born in 1833 at Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England. He arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand onboard the Clontarf* on 5 January 1859[1]. He was listed as 26 and a shepherd. It seems that Sarah MARTIN aged approximately 27 also was on the Clontarf [with possibly her sisters].

John "was a churchwarden for many years and taught in the Sunday school, was a member of the school committee, and always ready to help in any good cause or assist a neighbour." [9].  They had much to do with the lovely church which has been a private home for many many years now.

John and Sarah LISTER nee MARTIN[8]

They had at least 9 children:

Sarah Ellen LISTER born 18 April 1862 [4]
Sarah married William MARTIN [note this was also her mothers maiden name] and marriage registered as 1879/1340.
Their Children:
Ellen Bertha MARTIN [registered 1879/6895]
Ettiel [sic] MARTIN [registered 1880/14834]
Mabel Annie MARTIN [registered 1883/12267]
William Alfred MARTIN [registered 1884/20255] There is a Wm Alfred who died 1885 aged 7 months]
William MARTIN[registered 1886/2953]
Fanny MARTIN [registered 1887/11428]
Amy Lister MARTIN [1889/6170]
Olive MARTIN[registered 1890/11484]
Mary Evaline MARTIN[registered 1892/218]
Melba Gladys MARTIN [registered 1894/18460]

Martin John LISTER born c 1863 [12].  Married on 5 December 1888 at the home of the brides parents by the Rev. James CLARK to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of James Millar Esq. Harpsdale near Palmerston.[13]
Their children:
Leslie Douglas born c1895 [14] Married c1917 to Annie Leslie MILLER [19]
Lillian Clarice born c 1898 [15] Married c1925 to John Keith Lyndsay WEBLING [21]
Percy James born c1889 [17] Married c1923 to Gertrude Mary TREGEAR [20]
Helen Muriel born c1891 [16] Married c1917 to Andrew Abercrombie JOPP [22]
Mona Aileen born 28 August 1893  Died 1975, never married. [23]

Fanny LISTER born c 14 April 1865, Balcairn [2nd daughter] - Died 6 June 1925, Christchurch from 450 Durham Street. [2]
Married John THOMSON [sometime Manager of the New Brighton Tram Company who was tragically drowned aged 39 on 13 July 1902] on 22 December 1885 at St Pauls Church, Leithfield, Canterbury. Both buried in Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch,
Photos of their grave at Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch here

Mary Elizabeth [Polly] LISTER born c 14 October 1866 - died 20 Feb 1891 [3rd daughter]
married Joseph Frederick ASHWORTH 15 April 1890 Presybyterian Church, Leithfield, North Canterbury, eldest son of Mr Ashworth, Addington [Christchurch] [3]
A son, Victor Clarence ASHWORTH was born [4] 8 February 1891 [1891/5853] so Mary's death probably attributed to childbirth. She is buried in Linwood Cemetery, Block 7 Plot 27.
Joseph died  17 September 1935 is buried in Sydenham Cemetery, Block 23C Plot 63. His occupation: butcher.

The son Victor married Phyllis Emily COCHRANE [1916/1822] [4] and died 1977.  Phyllis died 1983 [born 26 July 1897] [4]
Neither are on the Christchurch City Council cemetery database.

b 6 Oct 1869
[an Emma LISTER wed Alexander THOMSON on 30 April 1895 could this have been a brother of Fanny's husband John?] [4]

Peter LISTER b 11 October 1870
Probable marriage 8 September 1897 to Alice BRUERE [Born 12 May 1878 to Graham & Elizabeth BRUERE of Balcairn] - She died 14 January 1932[4] Their Children:
Gwendoline Bruere born July 19th 1898 parents of Stanwell Farm, Balcairn married 5 Jan 1927 Vernor Hugh HAMIL[4][5]
Kathleen Bruere LISTER born 18 April 1901[4] died 9 March 1902 aged 10 months[4]
Alice May born 19 June 1902[4]
John Graham born 1 January 1905[4]
Kathleen Bertha born 24 March 1906[4]
Child  born 3 February 1907 but not named[4]

George Henry [Henery] LISTER
b 3 April 1873 d 18 April 1922 buried Linwood Cemetery with his parents, sister and brother in law.
John THOMSON [his brother in law] and George mentioned in this article

Lucy Ann LISTER b 3 April 1873 married 19 March 1902 John Tennant SUNSHINE and she died 25 April 1941 [4]. Both Lucy and John are buried at Balcairn Cemetery.
I have reason to suspect that SUNSHINE is an error in NZ BDM index as i have come across his name entered as SMELLIE.
John Tennent/Tennant SMELLIE died 18 January 1934 [4]
John Lister SMELLIE born 14 January 1904 [4]
Frederick Alexander SMELLIE died 24th January 1907 at Clarendon Terrace, Radley [Christchurch] [10] Cause of death: Mesenteria [11]

Percy LISTER b 30 October 1889

Ellen Muriel LISTER born 15 January 1891
[A Helen Muriel LISTER married 20 September 1917 to Andrew Abercrombie JOPP] [4]

John LISTER born unknown
There was talk that The Coachhouse was used as an illegal alehouse. I did write to HANZ [Hotel Association New Zealand] in the 1980's who confirmed that no licence was granted. From an item in 'The Star' newspaper on 9 June 1883 it was stated that:
"J. Lister applied for a public-house license at Balcairn, and submitted plans to the Committee, who adjourned for 15 minutes to consider them, and on returning into Court they refused the application. Mr Lister desired to make a statement, which the Chairman said was needless, as the Committee were decided upon the matter. Mr Lister: Am I to take this decision as now and for ever ? The Chairman replied that it was a very improper question to put, and declined to make any answer to it." [6]

John died 6 July 1897 at his son in law John THOMSON's residence New Brighton, Christchurch after a lingering illness[7].

Sarah died 19 May 1927 from Moncks Bay, Christchurch both are buried [with son George, daughter Fanny and Fanny's husband John THOMSON] at Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch.


Later, the CORNELIUS's were to purchase the Coachhouse around the 1930's. They stayed there for approximately 50 years and 'renovated' it in the early days. This consisted of a new pinex ceiling, which when we pulled this down in the late 1980's had all sorts of animal skeletons contained therein! Rather a nightmare. Old man Bill [if my memory serves me right] Cornelius visited us in the early 90's to see back through the house and talk to us about the roses he had such pride in.


In January 1989 my (then) husband and I and our 2 kiddies aged 3 and 5, went for a picnic out North Canterbury way. We had been looking to buy a place out in the country, but on this particular day property buying was not on our agenda instead, a family picnic was, UNTIL... we drove through Balcairn and saw this property. Ironically, the then owner was at the house for some reason... he did not live there anymore even though the house was full of his rubbish (and weirdly also, his girlfriend was a woman I had gone to school with in the 1970's in Christchurch), so David, the kids and I got to have a look through.
The place was a dive. It had to be seen to be believed. There was human excrement over the walls, mice droppings everywhere, 2 fridges in the kitchen that were full of spoiled food, filthy carpets, broken windows, the ceiling bowed in the middle about 5 inches, watermarks all down the inside walls, the attic room was unlined and had been used as a bird avery, the house piles were all 'rumpty', the old bricklined cellar underneath the house had plastic bags full of potting soil and was rigged for irrigation of some very sick looking marijuana plants!...and despite this..we both fell in love with the place. We could see the potential 'The Coachhouse' had. So we bought it for $60,000 which was top dollar for the place back then (with over an acre of land) and we shifted into The Coachhouse in June 1989. My parents came mother cried! Our daughter Jess (5 at the time) cried all the way and didn't want to go to 'the stinky house'... we arrived at the house ready to shift in, only to discover the previous owner hadn't shifted ANY of the junk out that was inside the was raining... the kids were crying...all in all a disastrous start.  
I had an interest in the area from the start. My G G G aunt and uncle Lucy (nee EVANS) and Benjamin PAWSEY farmed at Balcairn in the 1870's onwards. It was a warm fuzzy thought that they had possibly even been inside, so we started on the renovations. These were awesome, because no matter what we did, EVERYTHING looked better than what it had previously. At one stage when we were renovating the attic that was to become our bedroom, we found the signatures of some of the Lister children on the inside of the walls.

Before [1989]
After [1991ish] photos
As was when we bought it, 1988 - and part way through renovations 1990

1990 - view from vegetable garden

 1988 with the later addition of raised roof and walls for attic

 1988 - dining area, shortly after moving in [sucky camera...sorry]

 1991 - dining area

 Hallway upstairs when we moved in - looking out thru front window
Reverse: looking in to attic room which became our bedroom area - note the water stains

 Kitchen when we moved in 1989 and after 1991 - we moved the bathroom from the end of the kitchen.  That's a 12 foot long bench!

 Attic bedroom [14x33 foot]
Regibbed ready for plastering, new coalrange flue through, newly stippled ceiling.
This had been used as a sort of bird aviary previous to us moving in. Was all unlined.

 Room painted

Placing macrocarpa beams to lift the living area ceiling. It had dropped about 5 inches.

 The living area as it was when we moved in, 1988.
Friends child.
 Living room afterwards 1991

It's a bit unfortunate that our marriage ended in November 1992 and we never realised the dream of seeing The Coachhouse completed [and it has changed significantly internally since these photos were taken]. It was up for sale January 2007 by the people who bought it off us originally in March 1993 and has been for sale in 2009 also. We sold it for $123,500 in 1993. The brass nameplate on the front with the name and date of the building, I had made for my then husbands birthday one year. Cost a fortune at the time $139.... about 1989... funny what sticks in your mind!

YES.... we did have some unnatural things happen while there. Amongst several interesting spooky events, our son (3 years old at the time - 1989) picked out a picture of Sarah LISTER, the wife of the original owner/builder in the 1870's in a scrapbook I had. He said she was the 'lady in the wood wall' that he had seen the night before, (we had by that stage taken the scrim lining off his bedroom walls and it was bare planks); lights would turn on in the house; I would hear footsteps upstairs when only I was home and my brother absolutely refused to come out to visit past dark and he didn't believe in ghosts! But it never felt malicious at any time :-) 

1990-1993 I supported the lovely Avis Wilson with transcriptions and research within the then fledgling Sefton/Kowhai Archives.  We worked hard as a group and this organisation was eventually housed in the Kowhai County Council building within that time span.

As a bit of a spooky footnote, the guy we bought The Coachhouse off in 1989 reappeared in my life in 2002. He bought a section of land in Mataura that my now deceased Uncle had owned, quite random really!

Again for sale as of January 2013. I had heard last year that it may have to be demolished and not surprised to note that the advert for it states "is Earthquake damaged and is being sold as is."

June 2017: For sale again.  Asking price $520,000.  Presuming it got the all clear regarding the earthquake damage.  Hopefully whoever buys it will look carefully in to that as the advert mentions nothing!

[1] [conflicting information from the Encyclopedia of NZ states he arrived 1862].
Christchurch City Council cemeteries database [also states she was born in England - not confirmed]
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Birth Registration 1863/14910
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Birth registration 1895/7794
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Birth registration 1898/16391
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Birth registration 1891/5770
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Birth registration 1889/13862
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Birth registration 1893/13806
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Marriage registration 1917/5364
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Marriage registration 1923/8418
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Marriage registration 1925/2199
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Marriage registration 1917/4175
NZ Dept Internal Affairs BDM index - Death registration 1975/27327


Popular posts from this blog

1:12 scale Genealogists study - part 2

Making connections - the s.s. Tainui Disaster

The Kennedy ancestral hunt