MOUNT SOMERS RAILWAY.
The first section of the Mount Somers railway lino was inspected on Tuesday by the railway authorities, and in every way the work was of such a nature as to elicit commendation from all who were invited to take a part in the proceedings. A special train, piloted by Mr. Henry Stephenson, left Ashburton about 11.45, containing Messrs. F. Back, general manager ; F. Simpson and E. Cuthbert, engineers ; Mr. Tunis, permanent way overseer ; and the contractors, together with some 40 or 50 others who were invited as guests on the occasion. After passing the Ashburton bridge and the rising township of Tinwald, where a stop wa s made to pick up a few more passengers, the train proceeded merrily along, passing on its way fields showing a surprising number of stacks of grain, which elicited remarks of a most encouraging nature to the bucolic passengers. Besides the grain there were turnip and grass paddocks of no inconsiderable extent, showing that the pastoral interests had not been abolished in this part of the county. Along the line, harvesting was seen in various stages, some of the grain being yet in stook, some stacked, some threshed, and some carted clean away; and those farmers owning the latter, we look upon as the luckiest, as the imminent prospect of bad weather moans a great loss of time in cartage and other final farming operations for the year.
So far as the railway itself is concerned we cannot praise the work of the contractors too highly. To the experienced in railway travelling, a difference was noticeable immediately upon leaving the curve near Tinwald, and hence the train ran as smoothly as if it were on a broad guage line. This was of course not entirely due to the extra superiority of this line, but partly to the fact that there had been no traffic over it, and that it was put in the best condition for the engineers to report on. Leaving that point out of the question, the railway is far and away a betterone than the main trunk. We were pointed out on our way up, the site of
the future township of Chelmsford. The Laghmor Station, some Si- miles from Tinwald, was reached in good time, and a halt was called. In the twinkling of au eye, Host Quill and his assistants converted some empty ballast trucks into a sumptuous banquet hall, and if the improvised tables didn’t groan with the weight of the viands, some of the partakers did, as was evident on the return trip. The visitors did not proceed beyond this station, but the engineering stuff went to the end of the line, about four miles further on, and after about an hour’s absence returned and expressed themselves in every way satisfied with the construction of the railway. In the meantime the guests were treated to music by the champion piper of the district, Mr. Elder, of Lagmohr Station, who arrived on the "round to charm the ears of the Scotchmen present with the sound of his pipes, and some impromptu dancing on the tussocks occupied the time until the return of the engine, when the authorities took charge of the guard’s van and left for town, the grade on the lino being such that the van could run down the line without the assistance of an engine. Mr. Donald Williamson was then appointed chairman, and briefly expressed his satisfaction and approval of what they had seoif that day. He proposed the usual loyal and patriotic toasts, which were duly responded to, and he called upon Mr. Wilkie, who proposed the healths of Messrs. John Fraser and Co., the contractors f or the work. He said the work they had scon that day was one on which he could speak as an expert, having had similar works to carry out himself, and if blame was to be found with the line, it was m the direction of having been carried out too honestly. It was difficult in these days to find a man who was too honest in his transactions, but it must have been patent to all present at this gathering that a deal too much ballast had boon put on the line, as the spare heaps alongside the work would testify. The smoothness with which the train had travelled was a proof that the permanent way was well and truly hvd, and although this was perhaps the cheapest line of its length yet constructed in the colony, it was also perhaps, without exception, the best. Ho trusted that the continuation of the line would be shortly proceeded with, and hoped that it would be made by contractors equally able and willing to carry the work out. The toast was drunk with cheers. Mr. Jno Frazer, in reply, said ho was more at home when working than at speech making, but he begged to thank the meeting for their expression of goodwill to himself and his partners. Mr. Goo. Parkin proposed the Agricultural and Pastoral Interests. He deprecated the slowness of the railway' department in the direction of giving facilities for farmers sending away their grain at this busy season of the year. Mr. John Carter replied, and said it was roads and railways had made New Zealand what it was to-day. He could recollect passing the same spot in 1801, and little expected tlien to be conveyed here by steam. Mr. G. M. Robinson proposed “ The Local Bodies.” He was a member of one, and thought himself as good a man as anybody else. In the old days he had done his level best to get roads, but now every man wanted a railway. Mr. Donald M'Loan returned thanks as Chairman of the Upper Ashburton Road Board.
Mr. C. W. Ireland, in a happy speech, proposed “The Ladies.” Mr. C. C. Fooks said he could not understand how it was that the duty of replying to the toast of the ladies was al ways pitchforked upon him. He thanked the proposer and the company for the honor. The Chairman proposed the “ Banking Interests,’’andsaid they could not very well do without them, and sometimes had a good deal of trouble to do with them. They were perhaps a species of necessary evil, hut he would forego that .accusation and leave Mr. Shury to explain. Mr. Shury, amid loud cries for “ overdrafts ” and “ discounts,” assured his hearers that the banks would render all possible assistance to the mercantile, agricultural and pastoral interests. Mr. Ireland proposed the health of Mr. McFarlane, the Superintending Engineer of the line. Mr. McFarlane, in thanking those present for drinking his health, said Mr. Frazer had told him on starting the work that this ivas the first job of the sort he had tackled, and he had appealed to him for assistance to enable him to carry out the work properly. He was glad to say, in corroboration of Mr, Wilkie’s remarks, that the contract had been honestly carried out. His own work had been of a professional nature, and he could testify to the quality of the railway. Mr. Hall proposed the Railway Officials, and Mr. Stevenson responded. Mr. Sherloek then wished to drink the health of the contractors for the line, but was informed the toast had already been disposed of Mr. Shury proposed “ The Press,” and said the newspaper folks were a good sort, as no matter what sort of a bungle a man made of his speech, he would always find it in nice readable English next morning. Mr. Sherlock replied, and informed those present that he had been a journalist for 20 years, and had always advocated development, and would be glad to see railways all over the country like a spider’s web. Mr. Wilkie responded on behalf of the “ Guardian.” Mr. Allardyce also responded. It did not transpire in his speech what paper he represented. He did a good deal of repetition of the phrase “ I’ll tell you what,” but did not in the long-run tell anything. The toasts of “The Piper.” “The Legal Profession,” and “The Caterer,. Mr. Quill ” were duly drunk and responded to. The train then loft Lagmohr, and in the course of half an hour was back in Tinwald, after a most enjoyable day’s holiday, and all returned lully convinced that the work they had been called upon to inspect was worthy of all the praise bestowed upon it and a credit to both engineers and contractors.
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