Blacksmith's Cottage - 34 St Davids Street
This landmark cottage on section 191 at the corner of Stevenson’s Steep and St. Davids Street was owned by Jane Wormald, ‘lady, resident in England’ in 1864; it was occupied by Joseph Childs, who was Lyttelton’s first blacksmith with a smithy on section 62, at the corner of Oxford and Winchester Streets; later on Norwich Quay.
Joseph Childs (1813-1889) and his wife Fanny (nee Green, 1820-1893) and three children came from Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, England on board Cressy on 27th December 1850. The family had nine children altogether.
- William Read (1838-1840), died in England
- William (1841-1926), blacksmith in Lyttelton until 1896
- Daniel (1843-1852), died age 9 in a rock fall on Sumner Rd
- John Richard (1849-1917), married Margaret Johnson at Holy Trinity Church, Lyttelton in 1874, blacksmith with his father, took over the family business.
- Charles (1851-1911), Blacksmith, married Hannah Kirby at the RC Cathedral 1872, emigrated to Sydney 1883: smithy in Woolahara)
- Peter (1854-1913), married Isabella Forester 1885, moved to Cheviot in 1893 when he received land in the Cheviot land ballot.
- Frederick George (1860-1925), carpenter, moved to Cheviot 1904
- Lucy (1863-1938), married Ivan Jennings, Lyttelton 1888
- Sarah Elizabeth (1866-1951), married William Bassett in Lyttelton in 1890. There is an early photo of the Childs’ house (showing the original dormer windows) in the Canterbury Museum (no. 4859).
The Childs family involvement with the Lyttelton Fire Brigade
The family were much involved with the Lyttelton Fire brigade from its formation in 1873, William (elected as brigade foreman), John Richard, Peter and later Frederick (1892) and John Joseph (1916); John Richard was awarded the gold star for 25 years service in 1898. Between them the Childs family gave over 41 years of service to Lyttelton’s Fire Brigade.
Martha Emily Childs lived here in 1892; she was a spinster, the last of the Childs family to live here.
The Stevenson family
In 1925 Alexander Stevenson a wharf labourer was resident of 34 St David Street.
For much of the 20th century, the Stevenson family occupied this house. The Stevensons were well known to Lytteltonians. Mr Stevenson, was later a caretaker of Lyttelton Main School, made wooden baskets for all the children to carry their ‘manual’ produce home in; Mrs Olive Irene Stevenson provided a loving home for many foster children and did much good work for the school; apparently, in the apple season, she would get up at 5.30am to make toffee apples for the Main school children's fair!
In 1964 the house was transferred to Mrs Stevenson, widow and ten years later to Leslie Raymond Stevenson, engine driver.
Stevensons Steep is an original steep pathway linking St David Street to Reserve Terrace locals knew it as Cemetery Hill as it led to the cemetery. Mr Stevenson sold the top of his garden so the road could be built when it became a Council road in the 20th century so it was named after the Stevenson family; there was a big cherry tree at the top; locals knew also called it the Steep or Stevenson’s Hill, but a technicality stated that a right of way couldn't be named as a 'hill'.
Historic Buildings on St Davids Street
St. Davids Street is one of Lyttelton’s many historic areas; in the 19th century it started at Norwich Quay (until 1911 when the Seaman’s institute was built) and ran all the way to the top of Lyttelton to Brenchley Rd.
Other historic buildings along here are the Masonic Lodge of Unanimity 1876 (An early Mountfort building) at number 6.
No. 16 and 18, St David St. originally comprised one very large house. No. 18 later had a modern extension to the front; but its interior reveals that it was originally an older house.
Number 22, St Davids Street, was built c1875 as the Presbyterian Manse; between 1878-1919 it was the schoolhouse for the headmaster of Lyttelton Borough School, later the District High School (now Lyttelton Main school).
Next door to the old Schoolhouse at 24 is another early cottage from the 1850s with later additions.
The red house at 26, was formerly the Foresters Hall 1865-6 (the original building was sited here in 1853). The Foresters, otherwise known as Court Queen of the Isles was a friendly society. Dinners, dances and weddings were celebrated here; some of our senior residents have very happy memories of times spent here! The current owner discovered, behind a fireplace, some very old tickets dating back to an anniversary dinner of the Foresters on March 15th 1867, they cost a grand sum of 6 shillings and sixpence each, a lot of money back then! On the reverse of each ticket is the name of the member, one belonged to the Captain George Gray, Great grandfather of Mrs May, one of our senior residents in Lyttelton today. The cottages between here and Stevenson’s Steep are all historic buildings: number 28 is c1856; this has retained all its original character. The pair of cottages at numbers 30 and 32 are c1870.
Liza Rossie - 2005