Murray Snowdon has lived adjacent to the Avon-Heathcote Estuary for most of his life. Initially as a child in Beachville Road, Redcliffs. In 1950 he and his wife Helen settled on the lower reaches of Mount Pleasant, and were still living there in 2010. Murray, a keen sailor and fisherman, is a Life member of the Mount Pleasant Yacht Club, and was Commodore from 1971-73. He has also had a long association with Fish and Game, and the Christchurch Estuary Association.
Murray Snowdon reminiscences about growing up in Redcliffs, a seaside suburb adjacent to the estuary, Murray was born in 1926, this story about Joe Smith, would have occurred sometime in the late 1930’s.
He made himself a diving helmet out of kerosene tin. With a top end out of it and a couple of a curved pieces cut out to fit over his shoulder and padded. Made a window in the front, put a piece of glass in it, and sealed it up somehow. And put an inlet in the top for air, hooked up a car pump with an extended tube on to this inlet in the top and he use to go down with somebody else in the boat, pumping, with a car pump, you know, a conventional car pump, pumping air. And Joe would walk around on the bottom and there would be a string of bubbles coming up and so on, this was all great fun, everybody enjoyed the fun. But I don’t remember anybody volunteering to put the thing on and do it themselves. And somebody over at Lyttelton, some official over at Lyttelton, something to do with the Harbour Board, they lost something in the bottom of the harbour, the inner harbour I mean not the outer harbour so they came and saw Joe. This boy, what was he fourteen or fifteen at this stage I suppose and they got Joe and his diving suit and his helmet and took him over to Lyttelton. Put him in the boat and he found what they were looking for. He was an absolute character was Joe he was always doing something he shouldn’t be doing.
Murray and his wife, Helen moved to the lower reaches of St Andrew’s Hill in 1952. Today the view has changed in a number of ways. Murray talked about Morton’s jetty which then extended out into the estuary.
Well you could see Morton’s jetty, which is not there now, we had a good view of Morton’s jetty.
How (else) was the jetty made use of?
Oh, for a starting platform for yacht races and for yachts waiting for a race, but not wanting to sail up and down, they‘d tie up in a row. Depending on which way the wind was blowing they would be on one side or the other. There would be a whole row of yachts at times, oh you know perhaps ten, or more even, all tied up there, waiting for the race for the start. And then they would all get out and get sailing, a short time before the first siren, or whatever the particular noise was going to be that started. It was generally a sort of a hooter thing.
And did people fish off there?
Yes, I did. Oh you’d catch herrings, um; I don’t know whether I caught anything other than herrings.
I haven’t been able to find when (the jetty) was dismantled [c. 1970] but I believe it was dismantled because it needed maintenance, and a decision was made to take it down.
Which was very sad, really.
Why do you say that?
Oh well so many people use to walk out on it, breathe in a bit of fresh out there, and have a look around and walk back again, it was a pleasant thing to do.
And from what you said it had advantages because you did not have to deal with the tidal, the mud flats quite the same, it meant you could get out to the (main) channel.
It reached the channel and you had very definite deep water at the end you could dive from it.