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The train conveying the Hon. Walter Johnston, Minister for Public Works, arrived at Anama Station about twenty minutes past twelve noon on Saturday. Accompanying him were, Mr Werry, Under--ecretary for Railways, Messrs' Blair (Engineer-in-Chief), Austin (Assistant Engineer), F. Back (Traffic Manager Christchurch section of Railways), Mr Ivess, M,H. R.), Ha Worship the Mayor and several County and Borough Councillors and others.

The Cha rman of the Mount Somers Road Board, Mr Peache, and a number of other members, together with Mr Wa’ker, Chairman of the County Council, met the Minister at the Anama station, when Mr Peache read the following address:—“Sir—On behalf of the residents of the Mount Somers and Alford Forest, we beg to welcome you to the district, and to express our satisfac ion that you have been so good as to make a personal inspection of the country with a view to deciding on the best route for the extension of Mount Somers and Alford Forest line. We have long been endeavoring to convince the Government that the line should be taken across the south branch of the Ashburton river, but, so far, very little attention has been paid to respective petitions and meetings held for this purpose. We have had good reason to suppose that it was recently the intention of the Government to extend the line entirely on the south side of the river, and have therefore done our best to draw your personal attention to the real requirements of the district. As we do not wish to occupy your valuable time by going into the merits of the case, we now beg to offer our services to convey you round the district in any way that you may think best, and to do whatever may enable you to arrive at a just conclusion as to the best route for the extension of the line. ”

The Hon. Mr Johnston replied by saying that he was very pleased indeed at being able to make a personal inspection of the line, as that woul i enable himself and colleagues to come to a right decision as to the best route of the extension. He hoped that that decision would be such as t . promote the best interests of the colony and the district. (Hear, hear.) He thanked them for their kind address.

Messrs Peache, Puddicombe, Walker, Ede, Hood, Me Earl-ne, and others had kindly provided a number of conveyances at the railway station, which were soon brought into requisition, and the visitors wore conveyed to Hood's Hotel, where a sumptuous lunch was provided by the hospitable people of Mount Somers. Mr Peache occupied the chair, and Mr W C. Walker the vice-chair.

After the usual justice had been done to the good things provided, by appetites improved by tho journey, the chairman' gave the toast of “ The Queen and Royal Family,’’ which was duly honored. The Vice-Chairman then proposed “ The Ministry, coupled with the name of Mr Walter Johnston.” In doing so ho alluded to the fact of such a remote part of the colony as this being officially visited by a Minister of the day. The presence of the Hon. Mr Johnston helped to dissipate the very general belief held in many districts that the Government car d little for the wants of out-of-the-way places. Ho was sure the settlers felt highly honored in having the Minister of Public Works amongst them to-day. (Gear, hoar.) Tho toast was heartily drunk.

The Hon. Mr Johnston, in replying to tho toast, said that the present Ministry had a greater desire than any previous ono to study the interests and welfare of the colony at large. During his two years of office ho had always found that the single aim they had in view was how to servo the best interests of tho colony and people. (Gear, hear.) He was very pleased at the hospitable reception given to himself and Mrs Johnston by the Mount Somers people His object was to decide for himself the best c urse to pursue with regard to tlie ultimate i xtension of tho line, and a person il inspection of the country was the host way to enable that to be effected. He was, of course, unprepared to state at present which ho considered was the best route, but he trusted that shortly the line would bo completed in such a way as to be of the most direct benefit to the colony as a whole. (Hear,hoar.) He would again thank them for the way in which they had honored the toast and for their hospitality, His Worship the Mayor of Ashburton proposed, “ Both Houses of Parliament,” coupled with the names of the Hon. W. S. Peter, M. L G., and Mr J. Ivess. M. H R. In alluding to these gentlemen he (the Mayor) would only call to mind the fact that these gentlemen left their homes for a considerable period of the year to attend their parliamentary duties. Bo thought that so far as the district was concerned no fault could bo found with the representatives in both the Upper and Lower Houses. (Hear, hear.) He was sorry to find that Mr Wright was not present to-day. Something he was sure must have happened (hit prevented him from coining! on such an important occasion as the visit of a Minister. Mr Wright, in any case, would hardly absent himself without having a very good excuse. (Hear, hear.) Tho Hon. W. S, Peter, M.L. C., replied briefly to the toast, and spoke of the general harmonious feeling which existed between members of the Upper House. Ge thanked them heartily for the toast. Mr Ivess thought that the House of

Representatives as constituted since tie last gdieral election was the best they had ever had in l New Zealand. This wa% the extended franchise given to the people. He was very glad to see that the Hon. W. Johnston had decided to undertake the very onerdus duty - inspecting the route for the extension of the Mount Somers-railway, as he was a gentleman well qualified to decide the question at issue. . flis-capacity aa-Minister of Public Works could not .be denied, and ho (Mr Ivess) felt that the best interests of the colony and district would be served by his decision. He was now please Jto express his high opinion of the Hon. Minister, although mostly placed on the Opposition side of the House. He would apologise for the absence of Mr Wright, the member for Ashburton.

Mr Puddicombe proposed, “The County and Borough Councils ot Ashburton/’ coupled with the names of Mr W. C. Walker and his Worship the Mayor. He also wished to convoy to these bodies the thanks of the district for the help accorded them in setting the Public Works Minister to visit the line and route of the railway. Mr Walter briefly responded, and thanked them for the toast. !

His Worship the Mayor, in responding, referred to the agitation which had been made by the Mount Somers people in the matter of railway extension. So far as the Borough Council was concerned, he was afraid that it had not been altogether from disinterested motives that they had in Ashbur on, agitate! about the extension cf the line. (Laughter.) The fact of the line being extended meant, for Ashburton, that it was to bring “ more grist to the mill.” (Laughter.) Bethought the extension would servo the colony as well as any other line of railway had, and in the end prove remunerative. (Hear, hear.) He felt convinced that the line would pay handsomely it extended. He saw in a Wellington print the other day tbav. the Mount Somers line was the worst paying line in the colony. He could only add that he was confident, if completed, it would be shortly the best. (Hear, hear.) He thanked them for the toast.

Mr Andrew M'Farlane proposed “ The Press,” coupled with the nanie of the representatives present. The toast was duly honored and responded to. The Vice - Chairman proposed the “ Chairman, Mr Peache. ”

The toast was drunk with musical honors.

Speechifying then being over, horses were again put to, and ■ the Hoh; Mr Johnston and suite visited the locality of one of the proposed routes in the direction of Bowyer’s stream. The stream is in a direct line between Hood’s Hotel ond Alford Forest, and distant about 3| miles from the upper bridge over the Ashburton. It Is at this point where the settlers desire to have the terminus, several being in favor of the line of railway coming across the Ashburton, in a direct line with the present ‘ terminal station, A.pama, and the Buccleugh township, and others maintaining that it would be best to continue the, line of railway a distance of some’ three miles' further up the south branch of the river, and cross at the present traffic bridge, which is a short distance from Hood’s Hotel, and continue from thence in a straight line as'far as Bowyer’s stream. By this route it is stated a considerable saving would be effected in gradients, etc. In all probability the ultimate route of the line, if its extension is determined upon, will be in this direction, but the present bridge will not be made available. In this, it is thought, the crossing will be fixed at some point between the present terminous and the traffic bridge, l As it is found cheaper to build separate br dges for railways, the present traffic bridge will not be used. We hear that these bridges can now be erected at a total cost of L 4 per foot. The inspection of the country in this direction’ being limited through the desire by tin Minister to catch the evening express to Christchurch, a return homewards was made and the party reached town about a p. m. Of course nothing is yet known as to the decision of the Minister of Public Works on the question of altering the route of extension,.but ip all probability we shall hear in a few'da^s.

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Bibliographic details

MINISTERIAL VISIT TO MOUNT SOMERS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 815, 11 December 1882

Word Count

MINISTERIAL VISIT TO MOUNT SOMERS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 815, 11 December 1882

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