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THE RAKAIA AND ASHBURTON FORKS RAILWAY.

TUBNIKO OF THB FIBST SOD,

This very interesting eoremony took pla fe shortly b.tore two o'clock y, stord*y, and »_,_ the occasion of a large number of the settle*. turning out from the surroundii g districts to do honor to un event that is likely to ba fraught with _._ rauoh good to tho neighbor. ing country. The railway ss surveyed will run to Methven, a distance of twenty two miles Methven is on the south side of tlie river Rakaia, aid stands at the bis. of Mount Hutt. It is a fi .urishing Hula township that is certain to receive an imineasa impetus from being brought so immediately into contact with the m.in line of railway. Ihe district on both sides of the Hue is & fair agricultural one, and is likely to bs rapidly taken up for agricultural purpose ia small blocks as soon as the line is completed, j The railway passes by Mr E. 8. O.step's place, known as Somertcn, and the Sherwood est»te of Mr Moore, these being the two principal stations nlong the line of route. Be. tween Rikai* and Methven will bo ton stations, including the two termini, tbwir names being, though some of them may probably bn "changed—Somerton, the Nine Mile Gate, Sherwood, Urrall, Cairns Brae," Stono Brae, and tw. others whioh havo not yet been christenpd. As may bo pretty well known, this br inch line is not a Government railway, hut is tlie result of private enterprise, and is tho firs'; of the kind being omstructed under the District Railways Act, in Canterbury. Tl c survey of it wbß originally commenc.d in February lust, Mr John Webs er bring the sur-royor aud engineer engaged in laying it out and in mapping out the plunj and quantities. But in consequence ot the great, opposition there was to the line con. eiderable delay ensued, and the surveying was not. consequently gone on with so quickly as might otherwise havo been the case. How. ever, difficulties boiug got over and the Bill passed, the work was proceeded with s&jw rapidly, and tlie company proceeded to call for tenders for th« work of O-nstrucli (in. Thnt of Messrs John and A. Anderson, of Chris'ohurch, was accepted for-the smaof £55,000, this price being an Unprecedented!; low one, but si ill ont. that will enable . . contractors to obtain a margin of prufi., ia c 'nsf qucnee of the fow engineering didoul'i •*. in the way—the whole lino ovn a level traofc of country. The present terminus is 16 miles from Mount Somers, to which the lina is i-ure to be c*rri- d before very long. Wiien t>iis his been done, the fine cowl res .urc.-s of the district will bflhievelope.i to un ectont that cannot fail lo increase the pr.-lltj of the shareholders, while* ths whole of tho suTou'idii'g country will be readily supplied with the coal which lies in abundance waif iliHinl- a.»meri one ni>am al"«ie of which i| B_id to be forty feet thioV. This mm >, lying O ' th- loner i..n^••!*, will be very e_*>y of »cce»l fr m the railway line, and is within two miles of Alfoid Forest—anothor resouroo. The development cannot fail toenrioh the oountry, tor it poa Jesses inexhaustible suppli.s of valuable timber. These advantage*, oombined; with the water race, which it is expected will pass through the plains before very long, are certain so to promote settlement in the entire distriofc through whioh the line runs, that it should commence to pay almost from the opening. There can be no doubt that nil these improvements in this part of the country will be a splendid thing for the settlers, who cannot thus help benefiting from the private si_i.it and enterprise thit has been shown -ia'lht, construction of the lino. At the pns'nt time the coal mino in question is bting worked at the open face, though not on a very extensive Bcale—but still sufficiently to.supply., the settlers all round, and to prove that cjai in large quantities and good quality CXi.U. It is true that at the top it ie of the v. ual New Zi.luid lignite character, hut it gets better as it goes down, and at present it can hardly -be said to be stripped. The cost of cartage is of course sj great cc to preclud. . it from being uei.d, except in the immedwta vicinity. The country through which tbs : lino is to pass is not likely to snf__r from floods, as the plain rises from 20ft. to _0/fc, to the mite, and is therefore pretty sscum from the accidents that befall some portion* of our lines. The work is to be cqmnr.nwd immediately, kind the contra., fuse".■ ten months, ,'ls before rem_r_#, U'Utl J. and A. Aiitleraon are the gtmtitactot*. , and Mr L_kt>, tbe sub-contrwtoi.v% Passmore, the lute. Manager of Rwl-»4J» ■*&_ tbo North Is'ami, is tbe engineer, and to Ml C. F. Barker, the indefatigable secretary, ot, tho.company, a good deal of the sucdest of.. the undertaking » to be attributed;, ■:-.'■ A special train, having on board a nnmbit of railway of&oiiile, the chairman and directors of the company, and several Christ*. church gentlemen who had been invited to be present, left the Christchurch station at half past eleven, being drawn by Yankee ei-gin. No. 92, which took them at csprejs speed. . Sonth Rakaia was reached in an hour and a half, including a stoppage of about ten minutes at On nearing the township, it was evident that the day was an epoch in its life. Flags and banners were flying at the Town Hall, at the two hotels, and at the stores, and other places of holiness—while, on drawing up at the platform, the train was received by the children ol ths, district school, to the number of nearly 100, all dressed in their best, waving fl-gii and carlands, and singing the National Antherrj- , Tfie Ashburton brass band was also. drawn up, and on the children finishing their anthem, it struck up the air in right gallant style, wbiis the children cheered lustily. Yes, ifc was evidently a rod letter day at Rakaia, ore-J'-thing wearing a holiday appearance, an!, every one being in holiday hum ur. Mr Cos, tbe head master, was in charge of ths children, who appeared to have received most excellent drilling, acd Mr Miuin, tlij chairman of tbe sobool committee, martha-rd the procession, as it proceeded to move.- on towards the spot selected for turning tha-Ant. sod—about 300 yurds along the line to tbo south of the R»kaia station. At this spot • „ substantial fl .gstuf- had been erected, ana - from ifc waved the Qtg which for a thousand years has braved the battle and the btWM*. Near to this s.ood tho shovel and barrow, whioh were to be employed in the memorable wow , of cutting the first sod of the Rakaia ana Ashburton Forks Hallway. Mr Passmore, taking possession of the spaa, and add re. sing Mr George Hart, the chatr _ ma. of direoto.., *»i. it now Moats*.taj pleasing duty to ask him to turn the alii KM r.he-Sabaia. and ___»htrarton Harks xailmfThi» riiilwaj- was tlio Brat that mt w be undertaken nnder tho new Act. and tb*f OiA. j arrived at their present position only ai t? T f' - steady application on the part of all concofmM 1 extending orer eleven and » half Jwnwj, which hod resulted in tbe commencsmentot thU the first line of tbo kind inf* he colony. He baa great pleasure in welcomifig Mr Hurt and «« visitors from Christchurch to their mm and it would, he waa sure, give them all gtm -■ *- pleasure to tee the chairman of _-twctfl»now proceed to turn th« first sod fAppbU-S J Mr Hart s_id he felt highly honowd £ ■- being called upon on this * the initiativein so important an underts_»s indeed, an undertaking whi,h he might say, cou'd hardly fee ™»»*S considering that it was the commsnecmert Vl I wor! that wa. de_ti*--d to WW*-**" valuable "mineral and other " district withth ( lgenor4r J , Zealand. [Cheer! J Ihe '«** °fJ be ufit. - taking would not only conneot Jfogi. Somers with Ihe general traffic of the o_W, *f "°? d AZ*%£&:• »_fi_-daS£*-SS..'

"_rT__r_he slight-si, doubt in his own mind *■*_. .v. railway would be a highly remuue- *? Zoeto the sW. holders. It had been **-L_!«_ by Mr P-s-more that this railway « sßß S!fo.t one of the kind in New Zealand, *>}" iar as that part of the o ustry wan d be knew it was so. He looked eooea ?J w re w Act as another step in the __S direction —he meant in the direction o« *te_l «■' gor-rnu-e-.t, of giviig them e l joe**- jj-py did not possess be -°* er *lf successful he had no doubt that *__"" -Mjnple thus set would be followed in *** districts, and that lines «___ To*"-"To*"-" . v - _ „_.

jTI similar character would spring np » _L. the country- This being a new Act. ■{JfSi oomp-nythe first of its kind the jXatol the railway would no doubt be *~~L3 ,-ith very considerable interest in Thry must all regret the delay _-S.Udoc-urTed, ard which had resuUed lose of T-hnb'e time—but they »Tsl be pleased, with him, that the difficulties they h-d . ncountered had SS««ine. [Cheers] He must, say so **_it_e Government were concerned, that _________ eiven every assistance to the prozLmnTofth* p«>r«*. The Minister of 2E Works, Mr M-candrew, h-d personally ~_~__ed his warm interest in the work, ?!Fh*d promised that the Goveram.it Stf-lHid it ererj assistance in carry!jj o nt to a successful issue. Wi h Srf to tbe company, he could only say had worked with concord aid with zZLa, Ea thought the shareholders had xeawn to congratulate thems.lves on Z*Zg obtained as their engineer the services T«jwell-known and eipt-rienced a gen' le-nan «__r?-*smore, who, as they all knew, p>s_Ls great ability in his profession, and who, the spot, would be able to derote attention to tho interest of the "L-j-y He wss also glad to s.y that he 3haVe no great engineering difficulties to _i«-Bt-r. Tne work of constructing the SZted been entrusted to the active and ZZJZ&. firm of Messrs Anderson Brothers, been able to take the extract at a liable -ale, but at one which he hoped !^~ro T ere_-unerative to them The nature rftSsrountry would enable tbem to construct. L Hue at a coat hss than any other in IN .w or be might say in Aus'raha This was very satisfactory to tho_e Sewarild hare to p_y rates towards it; and «S_» re_srd to the shareholders, he did rot Jg-Tuiey would be cJled upon to pay _ lan towards the «_*"£? ° E ,, the "c fftU it waa opened. With these few Srttlo_.be would proceed with the work the first sod, which wm the comof their new »»I™J »*»«*. by the teraad the contract, would have to.be cornXtod within ten months from that date. "•^-__-Uwn*trockup «Bule,Brittania," tsA \b Hsit prjeeeded to cut half-a-do-en-od. with a new shovel provided by the contractors for the occssion, to place them in a new barrow similarly provided, and to wheel the load to tbe spot where the line was to i-» the main trunk. He then shot the Jaad to mother earth amid the cheers of the ipee*_tori snd the playing of the band. Z__e» was some little delay before proceedje* to an excellent luncheon, laid out at, tbe Town H~ll, and provided by Mr Gee, of (gafrte-rarch. This delay was caused by the Boekaryware and other necessary appurtßtSßcasnot having arrived by the express, -StJJ*. by some means or other, having found fttir way into the ordinary train, which did not Brire until half p is* two. This time wa* ttteeaWj spent by the children if not by the _ mats, for the chairman of the scho-1 com satta* had a large tin of lollies, whi.h he BnHnblsd among them to their intense de-

rSsort'y after the arrival of the necessaries {h-SO-jpany sat down to table, to the r.umber •f about eighty. The chair waß occupied by Mr &*or?e Hart, supported on his right by Hws W. W-lker a d R»>id, and on his Mt hy Messrs J hn Evans Brown and J. C W_#m, M.H R-'s, the vice-chairs beine filled _j that prince of .roupiers Mr John Olivier, and Mr Irtwrie. Among those prese-1 wm Messrs BscV, general manager of (kstethvry railways; Hinnay, secretary of railways; G P. Williams, late resident engineer; Allison D Smith, locomotive engineer; Cuthbert, sub-engineer; Fyfe, accountant; 0. ¥. Barker, John Webster, G. Gould, B. Pass-rno-e, G. L. Lee, Neil McLean, E. S. Coster, D. Cameron, Mann, Cox, L. Lambie, John Anderson, John Anderson, jam, A. Anderson, C. Kb*-, Guff, Graham, P. L.wrie, Bullock, Ivert, H. D. Winter, and the Revs. Paige,

Co __-_~ and Wyatt. Ample j_sti-- having been done to the excellent lunch provided, The chairman proposed the usual loyal and

patriotic t- as*. 3he next toasts was those of " The Governor, " atd " i'_e General Assembly," and ft. ■peaking to tha latter, the chairman said that. tbcy owed a debt of gratitude to thi« body tat having passed the District Railways Act. With this to»st he coupled the names of S_>s._. Wason and Brown. In wponding, Mr Wason s*id the New Zeak'd Parliament was a credit to the

co-ony, and an example to many of the A-»t-alisn colonies. It was very gratifying lo HS a ■ many visitors come to their di-»t,rict,_ as it snowed they took an interest in the impK.rensM_.of the country and the cultivation of the SOiL It was particularly gratifying to iiato see the progress they were making and osu once mure among them, having bldy spent so much of his time in WelBagtan. A good farmer would learn a ptt deal by looking over his neighbor's ttsae, by watching his improvements, and ' *b_{ how he was getting along. It was just tttrae with legislation, and this District Oka. heen learnt from watching the works's! tbe colonies of Great Britain, as a eaStt Act was in force in Canada, and had fctt Working satisfactorily for many "years a He could not sit down without telling how much they were indebted to Mr On_s__ for the passing of this Act, and also to his late colleague, Mr Bichardson. The *-r-B_ny they had witnessed that morning w* the result. It was, he thought, a matter cf gn»i regret that the Marquis of Normanhy had not been present on this occasion to have toad the first sod of this railway—not that he metnt to say one word against the way in *_i-h it had been done by their worthy <&-tn___, —.till upon such an important occa tun fas was sure the presence of his Excelfancy wonld ba*re delighted them all He eoaid ad} say that in the absence of Mr Bart, the <&& best man they conld have had to hare performed the ceremony would have heen ths Marquis of Normanby. [Cheers aaHasghtet.] Mr 1. E. Brown also returned thanks, and tfcid that he was quite sure the remarks of bi«Heig_e had been quite sufficient to con- - vujc- them of the very remarkable and very ioDonMe hody they had to represent them, sad of the Tery great obHg-fc ana they were coder to them. So far as the present Act *» eoEcerned, he bfliered, and always had *&*i*-d,they had too slavishly copied the ast at Great Britain, but no dou-t they *wdd be able to offer suggestions and im'Pnrc&Hmts upon it. He was Tery glad to be few* there that day, and he thought he hnd ™i at that place before [.Laughter], wt m travelling throngh it on tue previous *? _• could not see it lor dusk, He did not »ai there was. any other place in Canterwry where they could kick up so much du»t *" they conld there. [Laughter.! He w_s no member of the Upper House was P>«KDt to return thanks, hut the fact "• they could not travel like the JOEBg men of the Lower House. Bat in their absence, he would return «»b for that august body. Before !p®B down, he must congratulate them npdti «* pluck they had shown in staraug the Tory wstiaflway under the new Act in New Zea«d, _a_d he only wished he had a few «-Sngsto fp_re, so that he.could invest in *»» of their sbares. 13-» Chairman gave the toast of " The Ashraafao County Council," coupled with tl» |«Ms of Messrs Walker and Reed. He "tated the Council would, as hitherto, always «JUc»y. Jfr Walker, in replying, spoke of the poei- *■ Connty Councils filled in local selfP*ns«nt. He did not say they were peril** he was sorry that in some of the ™tts_!- they had sot been brought into force. •Ha own opinion was that as they had the •MVwrery part of the country was bound to •*■*• the hett ns* they could of it. IApP-Rae.] He was glad to say that in that ?*&J the Ccuncil had looked after their The work it had done argued well J* '*» Council, and for the district. Por !* own put he had always done the best in **pcwer to work for the interests of his **™*-6ettki*j, and to place his «erT***t thtir di-paa-L [Applause.] When *•■*» the GoTeniment of the country in wtse, he aid they need not be *°*« thai their interests would suffer. ~?*t the fast yew he had had the honor to fWM ts their "he Itwdly called it

a c'uty—it was with him rather a pleasure to look after the interests that "ere entrusted to him. With regard to the pres nt occasion of th< ir meeting, he trusted that, they would be present at S nth at a firure gathering of quite as impurt-mt a character—he referred to the

»H.er work* which it wis proposed to bring down from Malv m. Tbe A.hburton County Council had taken the matter into its most _eriou - consideration, and had voted the sum of £10.000 for tbe initiation of the scheme, if the ratepayers would allow it. [Applause] It was a matter of great importance, and one that required a great deal ef consideration. But of one thing they might be quite sure, that when carried out it would be of immense benrfit to the district. [Applause.] Mr R»ed also responded. Mr Cuff proposed the " Government Railway Department," and said they w-uld, no doubt, hare to depend a great deal upon the working of the Government railways in their management of this. There could ba no doubt that the district had Tery greatly advanc d within the last few years. H« would coupl. tbe names of Messrs Back and Cuthbert with the toast.

Mr Back regretted the Commissioner of Railways had not been present to have re-pouded to the toast. For his own part he was very pleased indeed to be at such a '■ gathering on such an important occasion. Thnt day might be said to have been •ignalised by the bapti.m of the first -adopted child of the Grand Trunk Railway. Th»» way in which the progress of railway tr____ was growi- g was most noticeable. Comparing the traffio of the last four months with the corresponding period of the prereding year, the increase was at the rate of 50 000 pwerg.r.. 50 000 tons of goods, representing £30 000 in cish. During the ■"-son they had c_.rr.ed 150,000 tons of grain. From pr.sent sppearances, next year they *oull, he could see, be required to carry 2<X),000 tons, which represented from eight to ten million of bushels. To carry this very large quantity, there wou.d, no doubt, be a considerable drain upon the railway resourc s, and if at times they were not rqual to the occasion, the department must trust to the forbearance of the settlers.

Mr Cuthbert also responded, and, in doing s?, said he looked upon engineers as the pioneers of civilization.

Mr Oilivier proposed " Success to the Rikaia and Ashburton Forks Railway," coupled with the names of the chairman and direct >rs and the secretary. He had no donbt the railway would be a great suevss, »nd that the dividends would be from 18J to 20 per cent, while the premium on the shares would bo twenty-five. The line would show an example to the rest of C -nterbury which they would not be slow to follow. It was all very well to drink the health of Mr B ck and Mr Cuthbert, but this company would put them up to a wrinkle or two in the matter of railway management. [Laughter.]

The chairman responded, and siid thit a debt of gratitude was due to the directors for •he . reat interest they had taken in the work from the commencement, and had used every possible exertion te bring it to a successful i.sue. Speaking on his own behalf, he thanked them for the way they had drunk his health. Be should always take a great interest in the district, and do his utmost to promoie its interests. This railway, when completed and joined on to Mount Sower., would develop a most valuable tract of country, with its coal, fores's, and minerals of vari .us kii d. that would add immensely to the wealth of the country. It w»8 well known there was one seam of co»l 40ft. thick, whiv.h could be delivered at the mouth of the pit for seven shillings a ton. This would ba cheaply sold throughout the 'ti.trict as soon as this line wis completed. Ind>*.d they looked to this as cna of the main

things which would support their line. There could bono doubt that their pastoral interests, with which he had been so long connected, would have to sink down and give way to the small farmers. [Applause, j In place now of the Maoris and moas, which used to scour the plains, they now had the iron horse carrying civibz tti-n everywhere in its train. The change had indeed been rapid and marvellous, in fO comparatively short a time. The railwoy they had now especially meet to discuss would he hoped be finished about the fiftieth anniversary of the starting of railways in the old country. The first opening of railways in England was a matter quite familiar to his mind. The progress of railways in the last half century had been something wonderful, atd he had no doubt that during the next half a century changes quite as wonderful would continue to take place. Mr H. D". Winter proposed the " Agricultural and Pastoral Interests of the District," which he said he considered was the principal toast of the d*y. He conpled the toast with the names of Messrs Walker and' Grey.

Messrs Walker and Reed responded. The latter gentleman spoke ab >u f - the gre it benefits which had accrued to the district through ihe use of steam ploughing, for which they had to thank Mr P-ssmore. In this respect, he had set an example that might well be followed by the whole of Canterbury. He had therefore very great pleasure in proposing the health of that gentleman. In responding, Mr Pa.smore said there could be no doubt that one of the chief drawbacks of that part of the oountry was want of water. He was, - * therefore, very pleased to hear the steps which the Ashburton County Council had taken with a view to remedy, the difficulty uud«-r which they now labored, and he felt sure that tbe-people would vote for the scheme proposed being carried out without without a single di.sentient voice. He believed the water supply would follow close on the heels of the railway. He had now a stake in the district, and should for his own sake and that of his fellow settlers, do his best to promote their joint interest. [Applause.] Mr John Anderson proposed tHe toast of "The officers of the company," coupled with the names of Mr Barker, the secretary, and Mr Passmore, the engineer. Mr B-rker said, notwithstanding the fact that their time was now nearly up, he would like to ray a few word«, but as they only had five minutes he would be very brief. There could be no doubt that, notwithstanding their main trunk line, much of the sucoess of Canterbury would depend upon the loop lines running up into the country between tbe rivers, and which would bring down the produ__ to the main line. It lay with tbe inhabitants themselves to construct such lines, and he was sure that the conduct of the Government in helping this Act was the proper course. This was only one of the very large number of lin-s which would soon follow iv its wake when it. was seen how successful it was. He was in-

troduced a few days before to a gentleman from Invercargill, who had come to. Canterbury for the purpose of learning as "to the working and so forth of such lines. This he thought was a groat compliment to their company. The duties of the secretary were no doubt very onerous, but he was'happy to say that in his case they had been greatly lightened by the action 4 " of the directors; He had felt great pleasure in workjng with such a set of men, who were determined to carry out anything they undertook. He f.ln perfectly convinced that the completion of the line would be carried out by them with the same spirit they had hitherto shown, and which could not fail to lead to success. [Applause.]

Mr Passmore al.o responded, and assured the company that the work would be carried out in a proper and workm_i>l be roamer. [Applause.] It did not matter how well the work «w__s planned if it was not properly carried out, and he felt sure that the firm whose tender had been accepted would give them every satisfaction. In conclusion he would propose the " Health of the contractors, Messrs J. and A. Anderson."

Mr John Anderson, jun., lesponded on behalf of the firm, and said that the work would be done at a less cost than any railway had ever yet been taten up in the Australian colonies—indeed, he believed in the world.. He hoped when the line was completed they .would meet together again at the same place, and at a similar gathering. Mr" Lake, the sub-contractor, also responded. The other toasts proposed were " The Visitors," "The Chairman," "The Press," and "The Ladies," which were severally responded to. The Christchurch visitors then re-embarked on board the special, and were loudly cheered !on leaving the platform. The train reached ! Christchureh shortly after six o'clock.

Bombay recently held a solemnity for the purpose of investing Maharani Surnomoye with the insignia of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India. This lady is the Bu* d.tt-Coutts of India. She contributed over £_O.GOO to famine charities enumerated by the commissioners from 1871 to 1877, and bestowed over _850,000 in works of chanty and public utility. During that period she had expended in charity one-sixth of her whole inoome.

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Bibliographic details

THE RAKAIA AND ASHBURTON FORKS RAILWAY., Press, Volume XXX, Issue 4155, 20 November 1878

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4,471

THE RAKAIA AND ASHBURTON FORKS RAILWAY. Press, Volume XXX, Issue 4155, 20 November 1878

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