Thursday, November 28, 2019

Christopher Remnant Jnr., farmer & proprietor of the Pangatotara Sawmill.

Christopher Remnant Jnr

Christopher (Chris) Remnant was born at Ngatimoti in the Motueka Valley on 1 April 1871. He was the 6th in a family of 9 and the 3rd son of Christopher (also known as Chris) Remnant Snr (1834-1905) and Anne (Annie) nee Barrett. His parents were from Albury, in Surrey, England, and had married at Godalming, Surrey, on 12 June 1859.  Two of Chris Snr’s brothers, James and George Remnant, had earlier emigrated to New Zealand and he decided to follow them there. On October 13, 1863 Christopher Snr, his wife and their 2 small children, departed Gravesend, England, on the ship “Anne Dymes”, travelling as assisted emigrants. They arrived in Nelson, New Zealand, on 2 March 1864, with their family increased by a second son born on board the ship and named "George Dymes" to mark the circumstances of his birth.

 Christopher Snr & Annie Remnant
Chris Jnr's parents.
His brother George Remnant had already settled at Ngatimoti so in 1868 Christopher Snr moved there too after buying Section 10 at the Ngatimoti Peninsula, this property being later bought and still owned by members of the Beatson family. In 1874 Christopher Snr bought Ngatimoti Sections 63 & 64 on Waiwhero Road near the future site of St James Church from brothers Henry & George Young. He then took over their store at the top of Church Hill and the position attached to the Youngs’ home of Ngatimoti's postmaster/mail carrier formerly held by Henry Young. This site would have been very convenient for the Remnant children as the first Ngatimoti School, established in 1868, was only about 200 metres down the road, sited on an acre which had been cut out of Section 64 and donated for the purpose by George Young. The old school is gone, but the schoolmaster’s house, built in 1878, still stands on the original site and is at present home to local resident Bob Vincent.

Most of Chris & Annie Remnant’s children left the district as they grew up, but Chris Jnr and his brother James (Jim) Remnant remained. James took over the  farm at the top of Church Hill, which he named “Roseneath”, perhaps for his wife Rosa nee Savage.  

By the beginning of 1898,  and quite possibly a year or two earlier, Christopher Jnr had taken up a 350 acre block of wooded land at Pangatotara, the site of his farm today being 1212 Motueka West Bank Road). Chris Jnr was one of several West Bank farmers who suffered damage during a bushfire in February 1898  - he lost a cottage and feed crops to the flames. Fire and flood were the most common dangers faced by Motueka Valley farmers. He set up there as a local contractor, farming about 50 acres and milling the rest. Between November 1898 and 1921 he ran what was known as the Pangatotara Sawmill near the Herring Stream.
Christopher Remnant Jnr
 & his wife Grace (nee Slatter)

The mill’s machinery was driven by water power provided by an overshot water wheel 16ft by 5ft wide, using water drawn from the Herring Stream via a tunnel excavated by Chris Remnant. The mill turned out from 1500-2000 ft of timber daily to supply the local market, being mostly kahikatea (white pine) and rimu cut from his own block.  He took the processed timber out through the Motueka River by bullock team, then continued the journey to Motueka with a team of horses kept on the east bank. full description of the property and sawmilling plant can be seen in an advertisement placed in the “Nelson Evening Mail” on 30 August 1906, pg. 4, when he was thinking of selling. In the event he ended up staying on at the Pangatotara property for many more years

On 26 October 1907 he married at his widowed mother’s home in Poole Street, Motueka, to Grace Elizabeth Slatter (1887-1951), youngest daughter of George Arthur Henry Slatter and Rachel nee Graves, who had for a number of years lived at the “Long Reach” property on the West Bank of the Motueka River later farmed by Lex Boyes. The Boyes and Remnant families became related by marriage when Christopher Remnant Jnr's niece, May (daughter of his older brother William who moved to the Manawatu), married Lex's father Norman Boyes in 1934.

Is this Chris Remnant's water-wheel in action?
 Spotted in his Savage in-laws' photo collection.
it has to be regarded as a possiblity.
A man can be seen sitting to the right at the top. 

Chris & Grace Remnant had 6 children - Doreen, Ruby, Leslie George, Hazel, 
Christopher Bruce and Allan, and to Christopher's frequent petitions to the Waimea County Council for improved roading at the West Bank was added one for a footbridge to be built over the Herring Stream so that children attending school could safely cross when it rained and the water level rose to a dangerous level.This request was approved and a bridge put in place. This bridge, known as the "Remnant Bridge" is still in use on the West Bank Road today.

 In 1915 he was advertising that he was prepared to deliver loads of processed firewood to Motueka, but by 1923 he finished winding down his sawmilling operation when he offered the remaining 150 acres of standing bush at Pangatorara for sale. And by that time he was finally able to proudly state that a good road ran right to his property! Christopher and Grace Remnant lived on at Pangatotara until about 1936 when they retired to a home on Whakarewa Street in the Motueka township, where Christopher died on 7 July 1939, aged 68. He lies at the Motueka Cemetery along with his wife Grace, who joined him there in 1951, and their two youngest sons, Bruce and Allen, who both died in early childhood.

For sale: Pangtotara Sawmill ,
on  account Christopher Remnant Jnr
NEM 30/08/1906


Beatson, Kath & Whelan, Helen (1993)
"The River Flows : Ngatimoti Through 
Flood and Fortune"  See: Sawmills, pg 38 & Herring Stream Water-Wheel, pp 140-141
Note:this book has been recently reissued (2019) & is available through the Motueka Historical Assn. (Motueka Museum).

Whelan, Helen (undated) "Dictionary of Ngatimoti Biography" (unpub. ms.) 
Remnant & Slatter families
Courtesy Mr E. Stevens

Anne McFadgen (2014) blog post.
"Mud Houses, Schools & Sundry Remnants", 
a history of 864 Waiwhero Road, Ngatimoti, its environs and previous occupants.

Anne McFadgen (2014) blog post
Rifleman Darcy Henry Slatter
contains history relating to George Arthur Henry Slatter of Ngatimoti (Grace's father) and his family. 

Marriage: Remnant-Slatter
"Colonist" 22 November 1907, pg 2
Notice of the marriage between Chris Remnant Jnr & Grace Elizabeth Slatter.

Pangatotara Sawmill
Proprietor Christopher Remnant Jnr
Cyclopedia of NZ: Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts, 1906: Pangatotara.

Also featured in this piece is farmer George Kemp Marshall of "Stoney Terrace", Pangatotara, who was Grace Remnant's brother-in-law - her brother Harry Wakefield Slatter married George Marshall's sister Ruth Marshall. Yes, pretty much everyone living in the Motueka Valley ended up related to everyone else by either blood or marriage!

Account made out by Chris Remnant Jnr to John Campbell (Jack) Strachan 
of "Meadowbank" farm at the foot of Church Hill, Ngatimoti,
 for services rendered.

Photo credits

Christopher Remnant Jnr
Nelson Provinicial Museum, ref. 56001

Christopher Snr & Annie (nee Barrett) Remnant
Nelson Provincial Museum, ref. 13180

Christopher Remnant Jnr & his wife Grace (nee Slatter)
Nelson Provincial Museum, Savage Collection, ref. 316501

Copy of account: Jack Strachan of "Meadowbank" dr to Christopher Remnant
Courtesy Mr E, Stevens

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