The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 1880.
In view of the proposed sitting of the Railway Commission in Ashburton, it would be as well, perhaps, that our public men should look up some of the railway grievances that still continue to afflict us. Not many months ago the Borough Councillors were frequently reminded by the then Mayor, Mr. Bullock, of the danger to which the residents, and especially children, were continually exposed by the unfenced state of the railway, and the open crossings. It was a subject which the energetic Mayor never ceased to agitate until even his zeal flagged, and his importunity was worn out by the “ hope deferred that maketh the heart sick.” Ho kept pegging away at the authorities, and always met a gracious reception ; a sweet smile met his interviews, and a polite note replied to his correspondence on the subject; but the practical answer he did and ardently wished for has never been given, and he failed to extract out of the powers that be anything more than the sweet smiles and polite notes above mentioned. Even the almost immolation of one of our most valuable Councillors, and, in their place, equally valuable horse and dray, failed to melt the official heart. . It was thought that when the mighty engine barely escaped
running over a line, gory with the blood of a] revered and invaluable citizen like Councillor St. Hill, with his steed thrown in to magnify the sacrifice, something would be done regarding the crossings. But no. Councillor St. Hill was not killed, and his brave heax-t refused even to be frightened ; so, in revenge, we suppose, upon the undauntedness of his heart, the railway authorities, finding they could not mangle his body, nor rack his soul with fear, chose to pay him out by keeping up a continual screech from the throat of the Yankee engine from its debouch from the bridge, to its final halt at the station. Doubtless all this noise was very annoying to the Councillor, but it was equally annoying to his constituents, and so, in the end, even this poor substitute for a fence—this railway scarecrow—was discontinued. The agitators for a protected line were very persistent and importunate for a time, believing that constant dropping wears away stones; but in the end they found that the official heart was adamantine, and impervious to the most persistent meraorandumiad. With the Railway Commission the matter may have some weight. Acryinggrievance, too, is the railway station itself. The patchwork affair was first stuck up to suit the requirements of a small and unimportant roadside halting place. With the growth of the town the thing has been added to, and pieced out, until its original “designer would blush to have his name associated with it. It is more than high time we had a new station —one that would give more room and better accommodation ; that would afford a waiting room wider than the deck of a cod lugger, for a retreat to which ladies could retire ; that would provide some more civilised sort of place at which tickets could be sold, and so avoid the abominable scramble when more than half a score of passengers wish to travel ; and that would leave more space between the wall and the train, so that there would be some chance of moving along the platform without being knocked about by every bui’ly man who makes energetic way to the drinking bar. Then a spurt may be given, possibly, to the Mount Somers extension line. As that railway at present exists it is virtually useless, and will only serve to bring down a few sacks of wheat from the country through which it passes ; that done, its work for the season is over, and the rails so carefully laid by John Fraser and Co. will be idle for a year. Its extension to Mount Somers will make it of at least some service, besides employing somebody on the work. The surveys, we know, aye complete, and only despatch is wanted in preparing the details and getting out the contract. With Mr. Wright upon the Commission we have a friend in court, and any real and remediable grievance we suffer under will be at once seen, if influence of his can do it. But he ought to have our wants placed before him, so that he may know how to act, and wo notice that his Worship the Mayor is quite alive to the advantage of our position.