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OXFORD RAILWAY.

" Long looked for come at last" was probably the remark passed by the majority of the Oxford public on Monday morning last as they witnessed the first passenger train steam through the township to the West Oxford terminus. The opening of this line of narrow guage railway has been seriously delayed. The contract for the first part of it was let in March of last year if not earlier. It is a line of no magnitude in respect to the works that were to be carried out upon it, and making all allowances ought to have been open for traffic from end to end on or before the first day of the current year. Why it was not so opened the parties interested in carrying out the work may have some good and sufficient explanation to offer. The first portion from Rangiora to Cust was thrown open for -traffic on December Ist of last year, at which time!the public were informed that within a few weeks the extension to Oxford would be completed. But the few weeks haVe been extended to over five months. The line now open from Rangiora to Oxford is twenty-one miles sixty chains in length. The total extent of railway now in running order for regular traffic in the Northern district is about twenty-two miles broad and twenty-two miles narrow gauge, the extension of the broad gauge to Amberly and narrow gauge line from Kaiapoi to Swannanoa being in progress. As each little piece is finished it is wonderful what a commotion is caused, and Bix public luncheons have been given in commemoration of the opening of forty-four miles. At Oxford on Modday the event could not be passed over without every demonstration of satisfaction being made. The people showed their appreciation of the boon conferred by a railway coming to their doors in a most successful and truly English manner. There can be no doubt this railway will tend materially to increase the prosperity of the district, in relieving it of the quantity of native timber grown there. As the mrain road has recently become seriously cut up, and daring winter is always in a heavy state, the travelling public have long been wishing for the trains to Btart. The first passenger train for Oxford left Rangiora junction at 8.25, on the arrival of the train from Christchurch on Monday morning. On it were a great number of passengers, and the traffic manager, Mr Lawson. The train also took on the mails and daily newspapers, the same being delivered at the offices along the route. Although the weather was keen and frosty, by the time Cust had been reaehedthe sun shone out, and the journey throughout was therefore a delightful one. The up-train from Oxford was crossed at Fernside station. Stoppages were made at every station—viz, Fernside, Moeraki, Cust, Bennett's, Carleton, and East Oxford. The principal station is at West Oxford, at which a substantial passenger station, with ticket office, lobby, and waiting rooms, has been erected, and attached is the station-master's house. Opposite is a goods shed 44ft by 44ft, The buildings were erected by Mr Reese: The station arrangements are good. Mr A. 0. Denby, an old public servant, is appointed station-master. On arriving at Oxford the train passed under an arch of evergreens, with the words above it in red letters on white ground " Welcome to Oxford." At the station another arch of a similar character was also erected, bearing about it a representation of a handsaw, with the words " Advance Oxford," worked on a blue ground with white letters. On the buildings around there was a profuse display of flags, notably on Mr Gamman's store, and the principal public-houses. It ought to be said that the train came to its destination at 10.10 a.m, and considering the journey is up a steep gradient, as Oxford is about 700 ft higher than Rangiora, time, at the rate of twelve miles an hour, was well kept up. The visitors, after having had an opportunity to inspect the township and wander towards the bush, returned to tbe station in time to receive the special train from Christchurch at noon, which was driven by Mr , Warner, railway engineer, and had on board his Honor the Superintendent, tbe Provincial Executive, several members of the Provincial Council, the district engineer, and others. On this train coming in, a lnsty cheer was raised. The local brass band, led by Messrs Prestney and King, struck up a merry tune. Mr J. Paul, stepping forw«_d, read the following address:— " To his Honor the Superintendent of the Province of Canterbury. "We sincerely wish, on this important occasion, to give your Honor a most hearty welcome. " The completion of the Oxford railway will not only give us what we have always stood so much in need of, namely, facilities for the conveyance of our timber to Christchurch and other parts of the province, but the large and thickly populated district through which the line passes will derive great advantage therefrom. " We congratulate your Honor on the fact that during your years of office as chief magistrate of this province its industries have been developed and its advancement been so great as to make it second to no other province in New Zealand. " To your fostering care of the provincial revenue and its judicious distribution this prosperity of the province is in a great measure due. "We trust that other parts of the province may enjoy the blessing of railway communication at no distant date, so as so render successful the great scheme of communication throughout the colony which iB now been carried out. " Other gentlemen, of colonial reputation have held the distinguished office of Superintendent of Canterbury, but we venture to i say that none hare displayed that nntiring i * energy, seal, and activity, for tbe advance-

ment of this province at large as your Honor, or so highly deserves the confidence of the r»'>Te~-riicß you so faithfully ev joy. " In conclusion, we take this public opportunity of thankmg your Honor for the kindness you have always displayed towards us when seeking your assistance or advice, and trust you may long continue to ornament the office to which you were called at a time of provincial depression and which you have so admirably steered to a haven of peace and plenty. "We also beg to thank the visitors for taking part in this ceremony, " Signed on behalf of the inhabitant* of Oxford.—JOHN Paul, chairman Oxford Boad Board."' Three cheers were then given for his Honor. His Honor the Superintendent (Mr Rolleston) briefly replied, stating his Executive and himself were happy in having the opportunity of coming to Oxford by railway. He bad long watched the growing interests of this portion of the province, and he hoped the opening of the line would be greatly to its advantage. Without detaining those present, he begged, on behalf of his Executive and himself, to thank them for their welcome. [Cheers.] A general move was then made in the direction of the goods shed, in which a cold collation was laid for about 300 persons. The shed was decorated with ferns and native evergreens, and banners, the principal one being the Royal Arms with " Advance Canterbury " on a scroll. This part of the day's festivities was under the management of a committee of Messrs Paul, Paget, Petrie, Parish, Oamman, Ingram, Moody, Hunter, Fisher, Webber, and Keats. The caterer for the supply of provisions was Mr Comyns, baker, and for the supply of wines, Mr Moody, Forest Inn. The spread was an excellent one. The chair was taken by Mr Paul, the vice-chair by Mr J. E. Brown, M.H.R. for the district. At the cross-table were his Honor the Superintendent, Sir Cracroft Wilson, the Hon J. T. Peacock, Mr W. M. Maskell, Mr M. Dixon, Mr B. L. Higgins, Captain Gorton and Mrs Gorton,. Rev F. T. Opie and Mrs Opie, Mr J. R. Pearson, Mr C. J. Harper, —c. • Grace was said by Bey F. T. Opie. After lunch the chairman proposed the toasts of '• The Queen," " The Prince ahd Princess of Wales, and the rest of the Royal Family," " His Excellency the Governor," and " His Honor the Superintendent," the latter being received with rounds of cheers. His .Honor, in replying, said he was glad to see so many present, and pleased to see a number of ladies. [Hear, hear.J He thanked them for the way in which the toast had j been drank, stating that many had probably j never expected to see such a sight as that of i that day, and at the, end of a railway to Oxford. He considered they were seeing what they should see by sticking to the j text of self reliance and||progress. [Cheers.] | Some of them might have expected too much and were disappointed in getting a slow railway, but with a cheap railway it could not be expected that they should obtain speed. It they were to have speed they would require weight, and that meant cost— [Hear, hear]—but having obtained a railway, though it was a cheap one, they ought to make the best of it. [Cheers.] [" It would beat the bullock drays." Laughter.] Yes it would do that. [Renewed laughter.] The bullocks had their- day and did their work well, especially when well managed. [Hear, hear.] He was not going to give them advice, the Superintendent ought only to take advice, but it was well for those who had the management of the lines that every- confidence should be placed in them. [Cheers.] It was an old saying that any man could drive a gig or manage a farm and many, of them considered they could manage a. railway, but they would find on trial that the managing of a railway was a totally different matter to what they anticipated. A railway manager seemed to be a person who ought to possess the temper of an angel, the skin of a rhinoceros, and the patience of another animal which he would not mention [a laugh]; for a manager really appeared to have to put up with a great deal, and therefore he trusted the people would act upon his advice in this respect. ("Hear, hear.J He again thanked them for the way in which the toast had been proposed and drank. Mr B. Lv Higgins gave the toast of " The Colonial Ministry and members of the General Assembly," asking those present to give it a bumper, as he considered it was mainly owing to the carrying out of the pnblic works policy that they were present that day at the opening of the Oxford line. [Cheers.] He coupled with the toast the names of his Honor the Superintendent, Sir Cracroft Wilson, the Hon J. T. Peacock, and Mr J. E. Brown. The toast was drank with musical honors. Sir Cracroft Wilson said he did not see why his Honor had left him to reply ; and as he was suffering from a severe cold, he did not intend to detain them. He had been a member of the Assembly since 1861, and had always endeavoured to do his duty. [Cheers.] The Hon J. T. Peacock said he came to' Oxford fifteen years ago, but then never expected to find it would become the place it was that day ; although he had always considered the railway would tend materially to its advancement— [cheers]— and he believed it would do so. [Cheers.] With regard to the public works policy, it was gratifying to see such good results arising out of it, especially to him, who had been a supporter of it. [Cheers.] In conclusion, he now trusted the line would be extended through to Malvern. [Cheers.] Mr J. Evans Brown said he had expected his days would have been numbered before the Oxford railway was made, and fully agreed with the vote of the Provincial Council to now extend the line to Malvern. [Hear, hear.] Mr J. R. Pearson proposed the toast of " The Provincial Executive and Members of the Provincial Council," coupled with the names of Sir Cracroft Wilson (president), and Mr Higgins. The toast was received with three times three. Sir Cracroft Wilson said they need not expect anything great from him, since his had been designated the silent Ministry, and as silence and speech could not be expected from the same person it would not be required of him to make a speech. [Laughter.] In his youth he was regarded as a regular jabberer, and if that had not remained with him, and he had not wagged his tongue during the sittings of the Council, it was because he had to be, as the honorable members of the press lhad stated he was, silent. There were foolish people and there were sensible persons, and it was a duty to restrain himself, although he hoped never to be placed in the same painful position of being tied hands and feet to a pillar, and with his mouth touched up with glue. [Laughter and cheers.] He owed a debt, and his Executive owed a debt of thankfulness to the forbearance of tbe Council, and he acknowledged it from the bottom of his heart. [Cheers.] Mr Higgins said that to-day they were enjoying the pleasure of hope deferred, but he trusted the line would not always have an end there, but be extended to Malvern, and their representatives would be only doing their duty by seeing this carried ont. When he with others first pitched their tents in tbe district, he could Bafely say they never expected so soon to see a railway. Three cheers were given for Mr Higgins as member of the Provincial Council for the Oxford district. Mr 8. J. Gamman proposed the toast of "The late Executive," coupled' with the name of Mr Maude. Drunk with honors. Mr T. W. Maude, in response, stated he came by invitation as a visitor. Referring to the public works policy of Sir Julius Vogel, he pointed out that in their own district they could Bee the benefit of it in tbe advancement which had been brought about. Captain J. K. Gorton proposed the toast of "The local Governing Body," coupled with the name of the chairman of the Oxford Boad Board. His opinion was that on the abolition of provinces, which it was desirable should be brought about, the local go-erning bodies would have more power and carry gut better the management of local

' affairs than they were even now doing. i [Cheers.] I The toast was duly honored. ' Mr Paul (the chairman) responded, saying himself and his colleagues of the Board were always anxious to do their utmost to advance the interest of persons in the district by making as well as opening up roads so far as practicable. From a distance many persons had seen the Oxford hiMs, and no doubt been told that bushmen lived under them, but not, however, the Darwinian bushmen— [laughter]—he hoped. Mr B. Parish cave the toast of " The Contractor, Mr Taylor, and the Government Engineers," coupled with the name of Mr Maxwell. He observed that the public had been treated with every respect by the engineers, and Mr Taylor had been so long with them that they looked upon Mr Taylor as one of themselves. [Laughter and cheers.] Mr Maxwell replied, expressing his pleasure that Mr Brown had lived till the line was completed. Mr J. Taylor, in replying to the toast, said he had the contract in hand now about fifteen months, and after contending with many difficulties, he begged to thank the Oxford people for their patience with him. Three cheers were called for Mr Taylor, and warmly responded to. Mr J. Ingrams proposed—" The healths of the traffic manager, Mr J. Lawson, and the railway engineer, Mr Warner," both of whom responded in suitable terms. Mr J. Evans Brown, in an eulogistic speech, proposed f The Press," coupled with the names of Messrs _. G. Kerr {Times) and J. Lowthian Wilson (Press), who responded. The chairman proposed " The Healths of the Oldest Residents at Oxford," which toast was received very enthusiastically, coupled with the names of Messrs R. Walker, T. Woodfield, and J. Pearson, who responded. Mr J. Ollivier, in a speech full of humor, proposed tbe toast of "The Ladies," to which Mr J. R. Pearson made a suitable reply. Mr Brown proposed "The Chairman," when the company adjourned, the visitors to the return up train, by which they were safely brought on to town in 2 h 40 mm. Ihe arrangements made by Mr Lawson, traffic manager, were perfect, and to him the young folks of Oxford are deeply indebted for several trips along the line in tbe trains during the afternoon. The times at which trains run on this line are announced by advertisement.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP18750622.2.15

Bibliographic details

OXFORD RAILWAY., Press, Volume XXIII, Issue 3068, 22 June 1875

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OXFORD RAILWAY. Press, Volume XXIII, Issue 3068, 22 June 1875

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