Treasures hidden in the wall
Timaru man Jacob Davidson has discovered artifacts of local history with an Ashburton connection in the wall of his new home.
The 25-year-old purchased the house from family about three and a half months ago and was undertaking renovations when he made the discovery.
‘‘There was a shelving unit in the basement which I shifted. I don’t know why, but I looked over the back and I could see [three suitcases], tucked over behind the wall,’’ Davidson said.
‘‘I was hoping it was full of money.’’
Instead, he found domestic items, telegraphs and photos, some of which were from the 1930s, but did not recognise any of the names on the items.
He was contacted by a Venessa Ashby within hours of posting a photo of the find on the Timaru History and Memories Facebook page.
Davidson’s father Ross also came across a name he knew; Newlands. He had worked with a Lorraine Newlands in the past.
Lorraine Newlands said her husband Greg Newlands was Vanessa’s cousin, and his parents John and Dawn Newlands — nee Ashby — had owned Davidson’s property until they died in 1998.
She believed Vera Ashby nee Turton, who married William Ashby in 1930, was Dawn’s grandmother.
Vera Turton was the granddaughter of Ashburton founders William and Francis Turton, who settled in Ashburton in 1858.
Lorraine Newlands said she knew the suitcases were in the wall, as she and Greg had cleaned out the property before it had been sold, but neither could reach them from behind the shelving unit.
Ashburton Museum museum director Tanya Robinson said it was an exciting find, as the Turtons were a very well known and important family in Ashburton history.
‘‘There are lots of people connected to that family living here,’’ she said.
Robinson confirmed Vera as the granddaughter of William and Francis Turton and said Lorraine was dropping the cases off during the school holidays.
‘‘We’re definitely looking forward to seeing what is in there,’’ Robinson said.
‘‘It is becoming rarer to find items like this, and it sounds like the items are over 100 years old, so that makes them significant in their own right.’’
Lorraine Newlands holds a photo of the wedding of Vera Turton and William Ashby in August 1930.