ASHBURTON LOCAL EXHIBITION.
(From Monday’s Tiinarn Herald .) The Exhibition of Local Industries which was held at Christchurch last year with complete success, did a great deal of good beyond affording a pleasant and rational entertainment at a dull time of year. It inspired the people with new courage and confidence at a period of the deepest depression, by showing how easily the production of the country might be increased by perseverance and ingenuity exercised
upon pursuits but little thought of before. It showed how much had really been done in this way, and how much more might be done if labor and capital should combine to make the most of the materials at hand. The Exhibition itself was admirable. As a mere show it gave pleasure and instruction to thousands, and its extraordinary popularity was thoroughly well deserved. It also gained the higher object for which it was intended. Its results have, there is reason to believe, been very considerable. It gave an impetus to local industries such as could not have been given as effectually, perhaps, by any other means, and was the starting point of many an undertaking which may grow into great things in the future. It demonstrated most conclusively, too, that exhibitions of local productions can be made exceedingly interesting and useful, and at the same time financially successful. It swept away at one vigorous stroke a mass of prejudice and misapprehension which had previously existed on that subject. It set an example which is sure to be largely followed, and which will probably lead to much more important consequences than are as yet within view. Exhibitions of local industries will become a recognised and valuable institution in New Zealand, as they have been for many years in the United States. Once firmly established they will assuredly keep their hold on the public favor, and their practical usefulness will speedily be made to appear. Already the success of any well-managed display of this kind appears to be certain from the beginning. Those who turn their attention to the promotion of an industrial exhibition, indeed, must be prepared henceforward for a rush of business, both from exhibitors and from visitors, that will tax all the resources at their command.
We are pleased to see that the projected Exhibition at Ashburton promises to be a grand success. Its promoters began their operations on a very modest scale, little thinking how large a field lay before them. As time went on, and news of the coming show got abroad, the affair grew rapidly and arrangements had to be extended accordingly. Now there is little doubt that the number and variety of the exhibits will only be limited by the largest room in Ashburton to hold them. The Exhibition is to be held on the 17th, 18th, and 19th of March, and the most energetic Committee will have their work to gel everything shipshape and satisfy all demands upon them by that time. We may say we regard this event with special interest on account of its local circumstances. Ashburton itself is the most remarkable specimen of local industry that the colony has yet produced. It seems to havestartedup out of the plain like those fabled cities in the Arabian Nights which travellers used to come upon suddenly on well known highways where never a house had been seen before. Five or six years ago, Ashburton, or the Ashburton as it was called when the river and not the town gave its chief significance to the locality, was a mere stopping place for the coaches on the great South road. It may have been, even at that remote period, a fine large town on paper. In actual fact it consisted of half a dozen buildings of a very humble description. But the railway came stretching southwards across that dreary wilderness which in the olden days formed the longest and most wearisome stage on the journey through the Island. Before it arrived it sent its messengers before it, and changes of the most startling and revolutionary character began to effect the appearance of the desolate hamlet. Several new houses were run up, and passing wayfarers shared the opinion witli the oldest inhabitant that such reckless speculation must end in irretrievable ruin. But the railway came on and on. It reached the township, which by the bye it quite threw into the shade by its own superior importance as a local feature, the nearest house to the railway station being something like a quarter of a mile away. It reached the bank of the river. It crossed the bridge. It sped away still further south, inexorably covering mile after mile of tussock plain with iron tracks, as if bent on nothing short of a new Antarctic exploration. It pressed on till it had joined North and South Canterbury, and made Ashburton a half-way house for the trade of both. The effects upon that place were marvellous. It is already the largest inland town in New Zealand ; and there is no reason to suppose that its long future will be less progressive than its incredibly short past. E nihilo nihil fit. Let no one suppose that a town like Ashburton has sprung out of nothing, or been run together with shifting stage scenery. It is quite substantial, and quite well accounted for. It is the evidence of things not seen from its immediate neighborhood. It stands in the midst of a vast area of fine farm land, for the whole of which it is, from its situation and by the aid of the railway, the only outlet and the most convenient depot. It is bound to be one of the principal towns in New Zealand. But it cannot become so merely by serving as a depot and a distributing centre. It must have a trade of its own, to live and grow upon ; and this is the particular consideration which brings us back from this lengthy digression to the point we started from.
What Ashburton wants—and when we speak of Ashburton, we mean all our inland towns —is a strong backbone of manufactures. It wants mills and factories and workshops, to convert the raw products of agriculture into marketable commodities. It has every facility for the establishment of these, and there is nothing to prevent it except the backwardness of the people to take up new pursuits. That backwardness arises mainly from want of information. The people do not know their own capabilities. They do not know how things are done, or even whether they can be done at all under the conditions prevailing around them. All this they will be taught by the Exhibition next month. That will practically be a powerful object lesson, or series of object lessons, in the industrial arts, and it can hardly fail to answer an extremely, useful purpose. We heartily wish it the fullest success; because we are convinced that it is calculated to launch Ashburton upon a new stage of a prosperous career, and thence to further the advancement ot many another township the prospects of which are at present far less assured.
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ASHBURTON LOCAL EXHIBITION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 264, 9 February 1881
ASHBURTON LOCAL EXHIBITION. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 264, 9 February 1881
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