Charlotte Sadd was born in Nelson in 1866, daughter of a schoolmaster. She studied art with two local artists and passed South Kensington Art School examinations with distinction. She showed her paintings in as many local exhibitions as she could and served on the committee of the Nelson Suter Art Society for over 35 years.
Consider a timeline of the Nelson Port and surrounds from just before Charlotte was born, and throughout her formulative years…
To begin, imagine that there is no Rocks Road. The coast is so rocky and steep that there’s not even a track to walk around. Instead, the only way to get from the city to Tāhunanui Beach on foot, is to scramble around the rocks at low tide. This was not really an option for most people, and certainly not for a family outing.
There was the alternative of walking over the Port Hills on Days Track (nowadays, from the top of Toi Toi St, coming up and over, and out near the steps at ‘The Wall’ swimming spot), but again, it was steep, and only for walkers.
The drive over Bishopdale was long.
And then there was always by sea. Again, this is before The Cut was through the Boulder Bank, so all vessels were coming past Fifeshire Rock, making for a much busier passage than it is today.
1842 Ann Bird arrives in Nelson on the Fifeshire, with her husband and daughter. She is to become one of Nelson’s most formidable businesswomen.
1842 The ship, Fifeshire, as she is leaving the harbour, runs onto Arrow Rock. The ship is broken up and sold piecemeal to settlers.
1875 Tāhunanui Beach was originally a sandy Island, with the Waimea River flowing through today’s Back Beach. In 1875, it started to change its course and, by 1881, the old river channel was dry, which made the construction of a road around the rocks easier.
1876 Initially, the idea was to build a half-tide road, but funding wasn’t forthcoming.
Construction began on Rocks Road using prision labourers, who were marched every day from Shelbourne Street Gaol up Washington Valley and over Pitts Hill (now Richardson Street).
1878 The Marine Baths are opened. Located near to the present yacht club building, they were oval saltwater pool, accessed by a little bridge.
1892 Nelson City Jubilee.
1899 (3 February) Rocks Road is opened by Prime Minister Richard Seddon.
The stanchions and chains were from donated funds from John Tinline, Mr Tytler, and Thomas Cawthron. Each stanchion weighs 38.1 kilos, and are placed every 10ft.
The final cost, including prison labour, was £11,000.
1899 The Suter Art Gallery opens
1906 (30 July) The Cut opens
1909 The Marine Baths close after being increasingly battered by the weather.
Construction of Rocks Road and the sea wall, The Prow.