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John Sidey (1823-1915)

The canny Scotsman of Corstorphine

John SideyJohn Sidey was one of the canny 'Early Settlers' who prospered from the 1860s gold rushes without ever panning for gold. A Scotsman, he had arrived in Dunedin after some years in London as a building contractor. He arrived on the Blundell, the last immigrant ship to come to Dunedin in 1848. His first rural property was a ten acre section, halfway between Port Chalmers and Dunedin. He also owned a town section, on the site of the present Southern Cross Hotel, where he operated a store during the early 1850s. But Sidey's ultimately prosperity came from his extensive holdings at Corstorphine, where he bought land in 1855. Sidey's cattle farm stretched from the hills above Caversham to Mount Grand in Kaikorai Valley. He named it Corstorphine after the suburb in Edinburgh where he was born. In 1861 miners began pouring through Caversham Valley following the only road south on their way to the inland goldfields. Sidey was ideally placed to supply them with meat and carted supplies to the mining settlements with such success that his fortune was made. He replaced his small farm cottage on the hill with 'Corstorphine House', one of Dunedin's finest mansions. From it he watched the rapid development of the Flat below -parts of it subdivided from his land - until his death in 1915.

(Photograph, Sidey Family History, Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

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