Early roads and services

Two of the early roads through West Melton were the Coal Track (where coal was brought from the Malvern Hills to Christchurch – now Old West Coast Road and Bealey Track (now Main West Road – State Highway 73). Samuel Bealey was an early Superintendant of Canterbury, lived in Christchurch and owned a farm at Hororata.

The first roads were made by the Canterbury Provincial Government but by 1864 it was too big a task for them so Local Government was set up. The West Melton area was in the East Rakaia Road Board (later called the Courtenay Road Board) which met at Whites Accomodation House at Courtenay. Roads were formed by carting shingle from pits by men using a horse and tip dray. Large stones were broken up by a man using a knapping hammer. The Southern Railway had reached Rolleston by 1866 and was to head towards the West Coast in 1874. The nearest station being at Weedons.

Land had to be fenced to contain stock and were either made of wire and standards or gorse planted on top of clay banks. Most holdings were small and farmers cooperated with each other at harvest time and with shearing sheep. A good vegetable garden near the house was essential.

Church Services were held in the homes of Henry Trickett and John Hill and in 1868 a Chapel was built on land given by Henry Shepherd on the corner of the Bealey Track and Weedons-Ross Road.

The Trustees were inter-denominational but the church was affiliated to the Wesleyan Church. From 1872 Presbyterian and Anglican services were held in West Melton and the Presbyterian Church in Halkett dates from 1873.

With settlement there was soon a demand for a school as in 1868 only twenty-seven in every hundred people could both read and write. A school was held in the Wesleyan Chapel and then in 1871 a school district was gazetted. Land was given by J. Franks and a Committee was formed. with John Hill as Chairman.. . The school was opened on 23 October, 1871, with J. Murray as Head Teacher and by the end of 1871 there was a roll of 41 pupils. John’s daughter Charlotte was a first day pupil. Decsendants of John Hill are still at the school. Adam and Oscar Watson are fifth generation pupils and followed cousins George and Harriet Watson