turning the clock back
Malcolm Ritchie. Photo Supplied

Malcolm was born in 1865, in Dunedin and, as already mentioned, came to Cromwell as a 6-week-old baby. His early schooling took place in the original school building down by the Cromwell Bridge.

After leaving school he was taught stonemasonry by his father and worked with him on many projects in and around the district including gold mining in the Kawarau Gorge.

On the opposite side of the river, near their claim at Deadman Flat, was a hotel run by George and Mrs Redhead. Betsy, Malcolm’s mother, and Mrs Redhead were friends. Betsy had an eligible son, Malcom, Mrs Redhead a single daughter, Elizabeth Jesse known as Jessie.

A match was made by the mothers and the rest is history.

They were married in 1893 and went on to have 3 children Elizabeth Jane, known as Janie, born 1894, James Scobie, known as Jim (our Grandad) born 1899, and Bessie Malinda born 1900.

As we know Gold is a finite resource and it is probable that the returns started to drop so I conclude that as the family were experienced miners they decided to quit while they were ahead and invested the proceeds of their mining ventures in businesses and property.

As mentioned in an earlier article James (Snr) bought the Free Trade Butchery business in 1893 and took Malcolm as a partner in 1903. Included with the butchery business was 22 hectares of land between the Bannockburn Rd and the river.

Malcolm bought a residential property in Cromwell in 1909 on the riverbank side of what is now known as Alpha Street, (opposite between No’s 57 and 61).

This included a large house section and paddocks to graze his horse as meat deliveries were done using a horse and cart. This area is now under the lake and part of the lake shore.

Later Malcolm took over a lease of land from his father which included Ritchie Gully.

Malcolm’s land interests to be continued in a later article.

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