Saleyard memories rekindled

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By Mick Jensen

Two stories in last week’s Courier about the Tinwald saleyards have inspired Colleen Prendergast to take a nostalgic look through family history books.

Mrs Prendergast’s great grandfather, Alexander Hewson, bought the Tinwald yards from the council in 1924 and at the same time leased the Ashburton yards, located near the cemetery.

He suffered a stroke soon after the purchase and his son, Heber, took them over until he sold them back to the council in November 1943 for 3000 pounds.

The sale included 44 acres of land, sheep and cattle yards, eight looseboxes, 15 horse stables, a trap shed, shearing shed, refreshment rooms and a residence.

That sale and a number of other family history highlights are summarised in a scrapbook put together by Colleen Prendergast’s late mother, also named Colleen.

“Mum helped out with catering at the Tinwald stockyards for three or four years before it was sold in 1943.

“She lived with her parents in the big house on the edge of the yards, close to SH1, which was later demolished.”

More recent archive records show that the wooden yardings were replaced by sturdier metal fencing in 1987.

“It was done for safety apparently. Two bulls were said to have broken through the old fencing and gone on a bit of a rampage,” Mrs Prendergast said.

Mrs Prendergast also has a hand written ledger book used by her family when they ran the Tinwald yards.

The ledger runs from 1934 until 1943 and shows some big stock numbers.

An entry for one day shows 1432 sheep were penned overnight at a yardage cost of five pounds 19 shillings and four pence.

On another day, 9000 penned sheep cost a yardage fee of over 37 pounds.

Over a six month period, the yardage fee for 33,896 sheep, 294 cattle and one horse was 168 pounds.

Mrs Prendergast said each month there was a fee cost recorded of one and five pence for a “telephone boy”.

“We’re still not exactly sure what that was for – someone thought it might have been for chasing up unpaid bills – and it would be interesting to find out more.”

The Hewson ledger book shows a host of well known stock agents using the yards, including Wrightson, Dalgety, JT Thomas and National Mortgage.

Heber Hewson senior was the owner and trainer of Bedrock, the well-known winner of the Sapling Stakes in Ashburton in 1937.