Salisbury has historical importance as the residence for close to fifty years of farmer, businessman and politician Donald Reid. Scottish-born Reid was self made - starting out in New Zealand in 1849 as a 15 year old, by his death in 1919 he was a wealthy business and land owner. He was an important figure in the history of Otago as a member of the Otago Provincial Council, and a later Member of the House of Representatives. He founded stock and station agency Donald Reid and Company which operated for over 100 years. He played a significant role in ensuring that European settlement in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Otago would be by small holders on freehold farms.
Salisbury has architectural significance as one of the earlier residential designs by outstanding Victorian architect Robert Arthur Lawson, and as one of the most substantial nineteenth century estate houses on the Taieri Plain. The house was built in two stages, a small residence in 1863, and the current house in 1873. It is a significant example of Lawson's residential work. The exterior is plainly detailed with a sense of solidity, without the decorative detailing noted in Lawson's commercial and religious architecture.
Salisbury and the life of Donald Reid reflects the change from settler to established citizen, a representative aspect of New Zealand history. The development of the estate from small wattle and daub cottage, to small brick house, to substantial estate homestead was a path that not all settlers could follow, but one which epitomized the idea that European settlement should be small holders on freehold farms. In the history of the Taieri Plains it is an important example of the development of larger estates which were later broken up into smaller holdings.
Salisbury has significance in its association with both Donald Reid and architect Robert Arthur Lawson. Both men were important in shaping colonial Dunedin - one in farming, politics and business, and the other in architecture. Donald Reid was an important nineteenth century figure active in the Otago Provincial Government, and as a Member of the House of Representatives. His estate was recognised as a model farm, and he was a successful farmer. His stock and station agency Donald Reid and Company founded in 1878 operated for over 100 years. Architect Robert Arthur Lawson, primarily known for his church buildings in Otago, shaped the face of Victorian Dunedin, and Salisbury is an important element in his oeuvre, especially as he was less known for his residential work.
The design of Salisbury is significant as a restrained example Lawson's residential work, perhaps reflecting his client's noted down to earth, straight talking approach to life, as well as Reid's economic realities. It illustrates the technologies of the time with its hand burnt bricks made from local clay, and foundations of local stone. In its two stage construction it illustrates the change in fortunes of Donald Reid, and illustrates the style in which a gentleman of Reid's standing wished to live.
Salisbury is an important part of the wider historical landscape. The Taieri Plain is noted for its early farmhouses representing the establishment of small farming on the outskirts of Dunedin. Salisbury represents the next step in the development of large estates that were also a part of the development of the Taieri. Salisbury and Donald Reid were an integral part of that wider landscape, with Reid donating land for the nearby North Taieri Church and Manse, and as a landlord for the development of tenant farms in the area. The Estate's subsequent subdivision is also part of the landscape of the area, marked by the end of the larger estates, and the closer settlement of the Taieri Plains.
Stone foundations, locally burnt brick walls, plastered exterior, slate roof.
Donald Reid, born in Scotland, arrived at Port Chalmers in 1849 as a fifteen year old. Initially he worked at W.H. Valpy's farm in Forbury (South Dunedin), and ran a leased farm at Caversham. By 1854 he owned 200 acres (80 hectares). He married Frances Barr in December 1854 (d. 1868), and they went on to have at least eight children. He made his first purchase in North Taieri in 1856 (an area settled by Europeans c.1849-1850), the start of what would become the substantial Salisbury Estate, and his home for 56 years.
A family history states that he selected the land in 1856, and in 1857 he was preparing to build a house at Salisbury. Timber was cut and prepared from Reid's Caversham property so it could be assembled without further work. Four men aided in the construction of the north-facing wattle and daub cottage, with veranda. The house had a scotch iron roof, with kiln-burnt brick chimneys and fireplaces and wooden floors. Woodwork was of dressed white pine. Strong rails and posts for a stockyard were also cut and the ends charred to aid preservation. Water from a nearby hillside spring was piped to a tap near the house.
Around 1860 a stable was built with a framework of Totara and Kowhai posts milled on the property. The “blue metal stones” used on to pave the stable were apparently taken from the linings of the few Maori ovens found round the foothills on the property, and were still on the floor in 1912, but were apparently covered in light concrete later to protect the feet of the horses.
In the same year Reid built a long low building consisting of “five good-sized rooms, with a low attic above” to accommodate his workers, and with a dairy at one end, with water piped from the spring. It was built from burnt bricks. This building was occupied from 1860 until at least 1912 (Reid's period of ownership), and was demolished sometime after the mid-1970s.
By c.1861 Reid held around 500 acres (200 hectares), and employed 7 permanent staff.
When the gold rushes began in 1861, Reid made a deal with his workers, if they finished their farming duties over the summer he supplied the transport, equipment and supplies for three months whilst they worked a claim together. Reid also ran a carting business taking farm produce to the diggings, making substantial returns.
Gradually he cleared and fenced the land. In 1863 he began planting - he planted 507 chains of Hawthorne hedges; 30 (12 hectares) acres of largely bluegum, but also macrocarpa and wattle shelter belts, and ornamental trees - willow and poplars.
By 1864 Reid was settling in and planned a large residence. Reid had to modify his plans due to stock losses resulting from an outbreak pleuro-pneumonia and the associated financial costs. He built a small house. The portion built was solid, being destined to be part of a larger later dwelling. A high-pressure hot water system was installed, as well as a lead-lined plunge bath with a cold shower. The brick walls were covered with cement. Surplus burnt bricks were used for David Oughton's Boghead (now known as Duddington, nearby on the Taieri) Reid then turned his attention to sheep farming.
By the early 1870s Reid had recovered from his losses and commissioned architect Robert Lawson to design his new house, which incorporated the older dwelling. Lawson's original design specified a large balcony, French windows and other ornamental features. These were omitted in the design as built, according to one writer, perhaps to Lawson's displeasure. Building began in January 1873, and the house took nine months to complete. The new residence had 14 rooms, a large hall with a semi-circular staircase, kauri floors and 18 inch thick exterior walls. The mains rooms had ornamented ceilings with centrepieces of molded flowers and foliage. The suspended staircase had polished cedar banisters and mahogany rails and newel posts. After the house was completed he remarried. His new wife was a widow Sarah Price. Sarah had two sons from her previous marriage, and was to have a daughter with Reid.
Reid was an outstanding figure in Otago. His interests included farming, transport, harbour board, politics, and industrial development. He served on road boards, school committees, and donated the glebe of 10 acres for the North Taieri Church and manse. Reid was one of the Taieri members of the Otago Provincial Council from 1863 until 1876. He had a particular interest in land policy and was instrumental in passing early land legislation that aimed at encouraging settlers onto land - in particular the deferred payment system. From 1866-1869, and 1871-1878 Reid was a member of the House of Representatives for the Taieri electorate. For a short time in 1872 he was minister for public works in the Stafford administration. He was secretary for Crown lands and minister for immigration in the 1877 Atkinson government.
Reid retired from public life in 1878, and started business (to provide for his growing family) in what historian John Angus called a “new colonial industry” as a stock and station agent (Donald Reid and Company). John Angus writes that this was at this time “a fledgling and purely Australasian institution” in the mid 1870s, a time when the Otago farming sector was expanding. Reid began operations from a store and office building in Lower High Street, Dunedin. He sold stock, wool and grain on commission; advanced money; and sold farm supplies. The business grew quickly and the company became an important firm in Otago. Eight family members were employed in the firm before the First World War.
By 1882 Reid owned freehold property (including some tenant farms) valued at £28,000 (over a million dollars by today's reckoning). The Reid family left the running of the estate to managers. He continued to develop with homestead property - the paths and front drive were asphalted in the 1880s, and the outbuildings put on concrete foundations and concrete floors. There were substantial plantings of fruit trees and berry fruit, including cherries and raspberries.
In 1900 Donald Reid and Company became a private joint stock company. Reid continued as managing director and chairman until his retirement in 1918. According to economist Brian Easton historically stock agents usually started as merchants or auctioneers. The ability to finance the farmer became the key to success - the agent was the farmer's banker - selling the farmer's stock and wool, buying the farmer's grain and seed, found a buyer for the farm, and financed the purchase of another one, and kept accounts. There were about 80 of these businesses at the end of the nineteenth century, by 1960 only 20 remained. R.D. Hudson, Chair of Donald Reid Otago Farmers Ltd in 1978, argues that the history of Donald Reid Otago Farmers is “in many ways the history of farming and related commercial enterprise in Otago."
After his wife's death in 1905 only Donald Reid and his two daughters occupied the large house.
In 1911, when the daily 3-4 hour travel to Dunedin became burdensome, Reid was approached by a potential buyer for the estate and sold Salisbury to L.C. Hazlett. Apparently he regretted the sale, and the family dismay at parting from the house, and tried unsuccessfully to buy it back. At the time of sale the property comprised of 6,327 acres (2560 hectares) divided into 50 paddocks, with the whole estate well planted and well watered. On Reid's death the estate stood at 6,300 acres freehold, and a large hill country lease.
Reid died at his home Abbotsford in 1919.
Hazlett was involved in the local racehorse industry. After Hazlett's ownership E.C.S. Falconer owned the property (1945-65), and began an Ayrshire stud. He commenced a successful racehorse career. For a period afterwards the property was tenanted and housed sharemilkers. By the 1980s the house was derelict. It is not known whether this Hazlett was related to the Hazlett's of Southland, who were noted for horse racing, breeding and farming.
In the 1980s it was restored to its former glory by the then owners, and in 2005 is a private residence.
Reid Farmers merged with Pyne Gould Guinness in 2001, and has been a significant commercial presence in the Otago agricultural business sector.
Report Written By
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Mane-Wheoki, Jonathan. 'Lawson, Robert Arthur 1833 - 1902', updated 22 June 2007; URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/
Angus, J.H., 1993, 'Donald Reid 1833-1919', updated 16 December 2003, URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/
Otago Daily Times
Otago Daily Times
Clements G, 'Historic Salisbury Estate, an integral part of Otago's past', 17 March 2001, p.1
Martin C, 1994 'North Taieri country estate redolent of times gone past’, Otago Daily Times, 28 September.
Reid, E. N. and Alfred Eccles, 1939 Donald Reid: pioneer, statesman, merchant, 1833-1919, Wellington, New Zealand
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area Office