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Over the years 29,000 of the orginal 32,000 acres (12,960 ha) has been sold or used for rehab blocks for returned servicemen after the 2nd World War.  The bulk of which is still in the hands of third generation descendants of Longbeach staff.

No man ever worked for ‘John Grigg’ always he worked on Longbeach.”

Longbeach now consists of 1,000 ha.  Recent developments include main line irrigation on 200 ha with a further 180 ha that can be irrigated from the orginal open drains made by
John Grigg.

Farming practice today consists of Prime Lamb production, Wool, Cereal Crops, Grass Seed Crops, Fodder Crops and the making of balage, and the recent development of a dairy farm.

The Station
Today

chapel sketch

The Chapel Longbeach

The first John Grigg came from Bodbrane Farm near Duloe in Cornwall to Auckland New Zealand, in 1854.  He arrived at the Valueless Bog as described by the Lands Office Map in 1864.  This was to become Longbeach and total 32,000 acres stretching from the Ashburton River in the North to the Hinds River in the South, and from the Pacific Ocean on the East to the present North/South Railway in the West.

Between 1880/84 John Grigg began confining the Hinds River by cutting a system of open drains which helped drain the swamp
and then laying clay tiles which were made on the property at an estimated cost of 2 to 4 pounds per acre to deal with the constant seepage. 

These titles were laid at a rate of 30 miles a year leaving a network of at least 150 miles of tile drains and 70 miles of eleven parallel open drains.   Longbeach was by then carrying 30,000 sheep; 3,000 pigs; 1,000 head of cattle and 150 working horses, plus 5,000 acres in wheat; 3,000 acres in Oats, permanent staff of 200 farmhands. 

In 1882 Longbeach provided part of the cargo of the first shipment of frozen meat sent to England.

The Station was a self-supporting Community with its own Post Office, School, General Store, Flourmill, Brickworks, Church, Smithy, Bakery, Cookhouse as well as Stables, Cowsheds, Pig Sties, Woolshed, most of these buildings still remain today. 

The Church which is situated in the homestead Gardens was bought for 30 in 1873 from Prebbleton (outskirts of Christchurch) and moved on skids b oxen.  It was dedicated by the Primate of New Zealand Bishop H.J. Harper and the burial ground near the Church was consecrated, where today a number of the members of the Grigg family are laid to rest.  The Bishop also baptized two children on that day 25th May 1873, the first two baptisms to be recorded in the Ashburton register.

A Memorial in the Chapel records the names of the men from Longbeach who gave their lives in the Great war, 1914/1918, there is also a memorial to John Grigg which quotes the words “who laboured for the common good; Large was his bounty; His soul sincere.”

The Garden was first established in 1864 with trees planted as shelterbelts against the Nor West winds; gradually the garden has grown up inside the shelter.  When wet weather kept the enormous number of harvest and shearing hands idle they were used then to make the small lake andlay out the garden.  Longbeach garden has prospered over the years as each generation of the Grigg family has continued with plantings and maintenance. 

Today there is 16 acres of sweeping lawns and garden.

The present Homestead is the third on about the same site, it was finished in 1938 after the second was burnt down in 1937.  It is constructed from bricks originally made on the property and salvaged from the fire that destroyed the second Homestead.  The architect was Heathcote Helmore and the shingled roof is made of Canadian cedar with double brick construction.

On December 16th 1905 a statue of John Grigg was unveiled in Baring Square Ashburton. 

Longbeach has remained in the same family, passing from John Grigg to J.C.N. Grigg to his son J. H. Grigg, who in turn passed it on to his daughter and son in law Virginia and David Thomas, and today is farmed by their son Bill Thomas, his wife Penny and their children James, Georgina, Rosa, and Henrietta.

The History

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