This is an album of Molesworth Station photographs.
These photographs were taken by Lex Mowat between 1907 and 1914 with his half-plate camera while he was working on the Station. This was in the period while the Station was in private ownership and sheep were still being run on the land.
From the 1850s the main inland route between Nelson/Marlborough and North Canterbury ran through the heart of Molesworth. The old cob accommodation houses at Tophouse, Rainbow, Tarndale and Acheron are reminders of this. The stock routes never subsequently became public roads and throughout most of the 20th Century Molesworth Station remained terra incognita to the vast majority of New Zealanders.
Molesworth Station today is an amalgamation of four separate pastoral leases - Molesworth, Tarndale, St Helens and Dillon - abandoned to the Crown between 1938 and 1949 because of rabbit infestation, stock losses in disastrous snowfalls, and economic recession. The station has remained in Crown ownership and gradually recovered from its earlier desolation, thanks to extensive rabbit control and over-sowing of some 37,000 ha in the 1950s and 60s.
Today up to 10.000 cattle graze on lands that almost a century ago were being reduced to a desert by millions of rabbits and 90,000 sheep. Over the years Molesworth has developed an almost mythical status. The initial opening of the road through the station as a toll road in 1988, attracted 3300 people. In 2005 the toll was removed and the road is now open for several months during the summer. Its transformation into a recreation reserve has opened up more opportunities for people to experience this remote area.
The following book has more information about Lex Mowat and life on the station for the shepherds between 1907-1914.
McCaskill, L.W. Molesworth. 1969. A.H. and A.W. Reed
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(From the Department of Conservation website:
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