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OPENING OF THE RAKAIA BRIDGE.

♦ The opening of the Eakaia Bridge is an event of no small importance as illustrating the progress that Canterbury is making in the matter of railway construction, and the consequent development of its material resources. As a public undertaking, there can be no doubt that next to the Moorhouso tunnel — a work vrhich may justly be designated the

pride of Canterbury — the construction of the Rakaia bridges ill vie in point of maga'tade with any other work that has yetbeen initiated in the colony, when the length of the bridge and the manifold difficulties that stood in the way of its completion are taken into consideration. Prior to the inauguration of the General Government scheme of immigration and public works, the bridging of thepilncipal rivers of Canterbury engaged the earnest attention of succeeding Provincial Councils, and amongst others the Rakaia was looked upon as one of the most expensive and difficult works that could possibly be determined on by a body of men whose duty it was, in the expenditure of public funds, to coHsider (he interests of all paris of the province, and deal with them on the principles of equity and fairplay. It was not until the year 1869 that the paramount importance of connecting the' northern and southern poitions of the province by the erection of a bridge across one of the most formidable of our rivers was finally decided on. A reference to past records shews that on the 30th of June, 1869, the tender of Mr William White was accepted for the construction of a cart bridge across the Rakaia at a cost of £21,500. Theve was a further tender accepted on the 17th September, 1872, for an extra 480 feet in length, at a eo3t of ' £24.00, making in all the sum of £23,900. After the public works and immigration scheme propounded by the Hon Julius Yogel received the sanction of the General Assembly, it was considered expedient to make it a combined railway and cart bridge, and ia order to make it answer both purposes a further contract for its conversion was accepted, the amount being £8564. This sum increased the total to £32,481, but in addition to this there was expended for tarring £458 and £1428 for asphalting, so that the total cost of the bridge for railway and dray traffic amounts to £34,350. The biidge is 4480 ft long, and 17ft 6in wide. It is divided into what may be termed three parts. The centre, or railway track, measures sft 3infrom rail to rail, and there is a space of 6ft on either side. The bridge was commenced and finished by Mr W. White, thebuilderof the care bridge across the Waitnakailvi, and the manner in which the work has been ex:cuted reflects every credit on the skill pnd ingenirfcy of that gentleman. The distance from the Selwyn to the south bank of the Fakaia is 12 miles 50 chains, and seven culverts have had to be constructed at places between these two points. The formation of the line was let in two sections — one to Mr Stocks and the other to Mr Roberts, and the contracts were finished in May and July, 1872. The contract for the permanent way was let to Mr Taylor, and the manner in which all concerned have carried out their contiacti is highly satisfactory. The aspholfcing of the bridge was performed by Mr Smart. The utility of this latter work is obvious, because while it adds to the strength and durability of the bridge, it very materially lessens the danger to be apprehended from fire, which in other parts of the world has been by no means unfrequent from the timber being left openly exposed to whatever sparks or cinders may escape from a locomotive. Apart from its usefulness, the asphalte imparts an exceedingly neat and substantial appearance to the roadway. It was anticipated that the line to the Rakaia would be open for traffic a considerable time since, but unforeseen events have retarded its completion earlier. Xhe first difficulty that stood in the way was the inability of the Government to procure the necessary class of rails (561bs), and then there was a considerable delay caused by the nonarrival of the Agamemnon, which involved the transhipment of railway material at the Cape, or a positive delay of seven months in the prosecution of the work. One mile of the rails sent have not been delivered yet, and another mile of rails lent by the General Government to the Provincial Government have only recently been returned. With regard to the continuation of the line south of the Rakaia, we may mention that it is formed as far as the north batik of the Ashburton, and if material comes to hand with reasonable despatch, it is presumed that the railway will be opened as far a3 the Ashburton at no very distant date. The' Selwyn and Rakaia line completes 12 out of the 77 miles required for the South Trunk Railway from Selwyu to Timaru. From the Rakaia to the Ashbuvton there is an additional length of eighteen miles, and the formation of that distance was let in. February of the present year. The whole length is formed, and ten miles of the permanent way materials were invoiced as having been shipped in January last, and may therefore be expected to arrive at any moment. The Ashburton bridge, which ig to he 2CoOft long, wps let l>y contract in February last, and tho work is to be completed in November, 1874. From the Timaru end, nine miles of the line have been contracted for since Maroh last. The works are at present in operation, and are to be completed in November next. This contract includes the laying of the permanent way. There is a further length of 19 miles, including the bridges over the Opihi, the Temuka, Orari, Rangitata, and Rangitata tervace, and this was prepared for contract as soon as the result of the pile-driving at the Rangitata was made known. It is expected that the work will be let by contract in about six weeks from the present time. A distance of 18 miles only between the Ashburton and Rangitata, including the bridge over the Hinds, now remains to be prepared for contract, in order to complete the south trunk line from Selwyn to Timaru. The line ia being constructed by the General Government, but so far os the Rakaia bridge is concerned, that work has been carried out by the Provincial Government of Canterbuiy, under the supervision of Mr Thornton. The official opening of the bridge, as we have already said, took piece yesterday. Invitations to take-part in the ceremony had been issued by hiu Honor the Superintendent to the members of the Provincial Council (now in deaaion) and about 20 other gentlemen more

or less interested ?n the extension of our r« waysystsm. A special train was announc to leave the Christchurch station at 10.30 a. and punctual to that hour a lai-ge number gentlemen assembled on the platform, inch ing his Honor the Superintendent and members of the Provincial Council (with th or four exceptions), the hon Mr Rcjno (Colonial Secretary), the hon Mr Bathg (Minister for Justice), the hon E. "W. Staffo Mr W. S. Moorhouse, Mr Sewell, Mr H. Murray- Aynsley, Mr Thornton (Provinc Engineer), Mr John Marshmau (Gene Manager of Railways), &c, &c. To 2 7 engine (driven by Mr Dickenson) tfr first-class carnages were attached, a the train started for the B-.ikaia 20 minutes to eleven o'clock. No stoppt was made at any of the intermediate static between Christchuroh and S elwyu, but her short detention was necessary to enable t boilers to be replenished. The run befcwt Christchurch and the Selwyn (a distance 23 miles), was accomplished in 34- minut At the Dunsandel station a short stoppage v made, the train arriving at the South Raki station (a distance of half a mile beyond t south bank of the river, or 35 miles fr< Christchurch), in one hour and 12 nvnu from the time of leaving the Ohristchui platform. The station buildings at the Sob Bakuia have not yet been completed, but a number of men are constantly at work, it expected they will be ready for perman* occupation -in the course of a few da Whether they are finished or not, it is t intention of the Government to open the li for purposes of passenger traffic on Mond next. After a short delay at the present t minus of the line, the party returned to t bridge, walking leisurely over it, and in course of their progress, making a gene inspection of the structure. Opinions w< unanimous as to the gigantic character of 1 undertaking, and the satisfactory manner which it had been carried out. Tho eng and three carriages proceeded aci'o33 bridge at little more than a walking pa thus affording a very practical proof of t substantial nature of the work. To give additional eclat to the proceedin the services of Mr Morton, High street, w secured to cater for the cacasion, and manner in which he discharged the duties trusted to him gave general satisfaction. 1 ] mcheon was served in a large shed conti{ ous to the ford on the south bank of tho rh The otherwise bare appearance of the w* was relieved by a Jheterogeneous display bunting, but the wintry weather that set just about the time the party sat down, s the more than requisite amount of vontilat that the shed afforded, had the effect

shortening the duration of the procecdifl considerably. fl The chair was occupied by bia Honor fl Superintendent, and the vice-chairs were filfl by Mr Kennaway (Provincial Secretary) tfl the Hon. Col. Brett. . H The Chairman was supported on his rifl by Mr H. J. Tancred (Speaker of the Provfl cial Council), Mr W. S. Moorhouse aud othfl and on his left by the Hon. Mr BathgeH the Hon. Mr Reynolds, and the Hon. E/H Stafford. Piior to the removal of the clcfl his Honor the Superintendent said he H sorry to intimate to the company that fl departure of the s.s. Lady Bird for Wellifl ton rendered it necessary that the two mcfl bora of the Ministry present (the Hon. fl Bathgate and the Hon. Mr Beynolds) shofl leave, in order to reach Christchurch by fl 2 p.m. train from Dunsandol ; but before tfl left, he begged to propose the toast of "fl Ministry," coupled with the names offl Hon. Mr Bathgate and the Hon. Mr ifl The toast was drunk amid cheers. fl The Hon. Mr Bathgate, in returning thaifl spoke of the gratification he felt at assistfl in so interesting a ceremony, and at seeflj the successful completion of so gigantic an Hj dertaking as the erection of the Kakaia briqfl Both gentlemen thereupon withdrew, flj were conveyed on the engine to the Dunsaifl station, in order to catch the ordinary trHj The distance between the north bank of HJ Bakaia ond Dunsandol waß accomplishedH 13 minutes. H After ample justice was done to the vH excellent spread provided by Mr Morton vB his usual savoir faire, the proposing of toafl was proceeded with. HJ The loyal and patriotic toaßts were propeflj by his Honor the Superintendent, and drflf with the customary degree of enthusiasm. Hj The next toast, proposed by his Honor flj Superintendent, was that of the " OflicorHj ministrating the Qovernment of New ZealaiHJ which was duly honoured. HJ Mr Tancred, Speaker of the ProvuflJ Council, proposed the toast of his Honor HJ Superintendent. (Loud clieors.) lie did HJ think he iiad -muck to say in proposing HJ toast, because he was sure that it would c|B mend itself to everyone present. (Hear, hHJ and cheers.) He was sure they all felt HJ his Honor not only adorned the positional filled, but aa a gentleman of honour and HJ tegrity was a credit to any community. (LIB cheers.) HJ The toast was drunk with cheers and musHJ honours. Hj TTifl Honor the Superintendent was receflj with loud cheers on rising to respond. Bl said — Gentlemen, I have to thank you vH kindly for the way in which you have drHJ my health, and you, Sir, for the very hsHJ some manner in which you proposed it. HJ present is one of those occasions on which HJ Superintendent meets the Provincial CouiHJ on a different footing to that which is orHJ arily the case. On other occasions, thereHJ I believe, a Standing Order that no one iHJ speak until the Superintendent has leftJHj room. lam happy to think, howover, flj this will not bo the case on the prosent oHJ sion. The present is really an occasion wIHJ to me is one affording very lively grattficatflj The opening of the Kakaia bridge is an eH in the history of this province of no siHM significance, and one that will have no Bjjjfl effect on the future of the province. (HHJ

ear.) The work in itself is a great ork. (Hear, hear.) lam quite sure no entleman has gone over it to-day without salising that. (Hear, hear, and cheei3). The fork acquires a greater significance from the let that it was undertaken by the province at a ime when things did not look nearly so bright s they do now. It was undertaken at a time rhen there was a general paralysis throughout he province of trade and industry. It was at he end of 1868, Sir, that it was • first riginated by a gentleman whom I am glad to cc here to-day in conjunction with myself. Hear, hear.) The work is one which wus ecessary to promote the settlement of the ountry beyond the Eakaia, and had it not een for this v?ovk, I am satisfied that agoiultural settlement could not have proceeded eyond the river we have crossed to-day. Hear, hear.) Gentlemen, the occasion of he meeting of the Superintendent and the Provincial Council on a day like this is one hat must afford very gre.it satisfaction. Hear, hear.) I tbiok that to the province as whole the successful completion of a work £ that kind is a result upon which wo may ustly congratulate ourselves. (Hear, hear, nd cheers.) I look upon this as a great vent ; as shewing what can be worked by ocal enterprise and by people who are imiressed with the wants and requirements of he country. (Cheers.) Gentlemen, lam atisfied, and I may be allowed without respaßsing on politics, to express my pinion that it tv.'U be an ill ay for the colony of New Zealand , nd I have a great interest in t^e colony — rhen its local institutions cease to be vlgorrously and actively employed. (Hear,hear,and heers.) Gentlemen, — I am strongly of opin>n that this work shews clearly what can be one by men who are well acqraintcd with he localities and circumstances of the countiy rhen similar works could not have been carLed on, viewed from a distance. (Hrar, hear, nd cheers.) I think it wn said by the fi"sfc ounder of this settlement —Mr John E <bert J-odley — a gentlemen who for a great deal f the time he was connected with the founation of this settlement, was engaged :n a onstant conflict for local government — that he rould lather be governed by a local despot han by a board of angels in Downing street. That applied then app I; es with equal force ow to the circumstances o2 this colony. I m satisfied 't would be the greatest possible liflfortune for tbte province to give up the enefit of those cor :r els that are now being mpart^d by you, gentlemen, in the Provinial Covnci 1 .. Gentlemen, — I have to thank ou very kindly for the way ?n which you have runk my health, and I hope that tbi3 is not he only great work that tvII be initiated and arried out as successfully through your deberations in this province. (Loud cheers.) Mr Wm. Montgomery, Chairman of the Joard of Education, said he had the honour 0 propose a toast which he was sure would c received with the honour it deserved. He Jgged to propose the toast of the General Lesembly, coupled with the name of a very nportant member of that body, the Hon. E. Y. Stafford. (Cheers.) The General Asembly had done its work well in the pest, nd he trusted it would go on as it had itherto done, and temper wisdom with d;sretion. (Hear hear, and cheers.) The toast was drunk with great enthusiasm. The Hon. E. W. Stafford was received with oud cheers on rising to respond to the toaßt. le said he was very sensible of the honour hey had done him in associating his name rith the toast, inasmuch as he wa3 perhaps ho youngest settler of the province of Canerbury amongst them. For four years, howver, he had the honour to represent in the Jeueral Assembly one of the most important istricts in the province — the town of Timaru. Loud crieß of "No, no," and " Hear, hear.") A ll le i could say was that those of the company who ried "No, no," must be ignorant of the ilace he referred io, or they would not doubt hat it was one of the most important in the >roTince. So far as the work they had traerscd that day was concerned, he must say hat the people of Canterbury and Provincial Jouncii had really effected that work. Before he ideas of railways were thought of at all — rhen he (Mr Stafford) was hooted for sugesting the establishment of telegraphic ommunit-ation — a gentleman startled the Jeneral Assembly by proposing the construeion of a railway from the north to the south f Canterbury. It was in the year 1859 that Ir Win. Sefton Moorhouse took the breath f the Assembly away by asking for lowers to raise a loan to construct a raHt&j through the Port Hills, and from the orth to the south of the province. Let onour be given to whom honour was ue, and there was no doubt that the redit of proposing the construction of aiiways In Nev/ Zealand end. the bridging of be' riveis was due t j Mr W. S. Moorhouse. Hear, hear, and cheers.) When the present iilway scheme was enunoiated in 1870, it was upported by a great many who were indiffernt to it from the belief that it would sweep way Provincial institutions. In his opinion, here was nothing that gave such vitality to tiose institutions as the prosecution of works aving a tendency to open up the country for urposea of settlement. (Hear, hear.) Who mongst them would say that the . Provincial legislature of Canterbury would not take a lir, liberal, comprehensive, and impartial iew of the several interests of the province ? [c believed that the Provincial Council of anterbury would continue to discharge a duties in the same way as. it ad done in the past. (Hear, hfcar, ad cheers.) He had great pleasure in roposing the toast of the Provincial Council, id iv doing bo, he could say with truth that a lore honest or strictly impartial legislature as not 1.0 bo found in any part of the world. [c trusted that before the proceedings were rought to a close, Mv Moorhouse would have 1 opportunity of addressing the company, if for o other purpose than that of confirming if conrmation were necessary, what he (Mr Stafford) ad said relative to the action of that gentleiau in the matter of railway construction.

Mr William Sefton Moorhouse was not only ' the originator of the idea, but he worked the proposal out by statistics which time and experience Bhewed were thoroughly correct. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) In conclusion, he had much pleasure in proposing the toast of the Provincial Council. The Hon Col. Brett, in a highly humoirous speech, returned thanks on behalf of the Legislative Council. The toast of the Provincial Council, proposed by the Hon E. W. Stafford, was drunk amid cheers. Mr Tancred (Speaker) responded to the toast. la response to repeated calls, Mr Moorhouse rose to address the company, and was greeted with loud cheers. He said he had to thank them for their very great courtesy in availing themselves of the present opportunity of affording very great gratification to him as an old settler of this province, though not at present a resident in it. It did not require one single sentence from him to assure those present that he must have felt an enormous degree of gratification at seeing another instalment of what they all hoped for a short time ago, but did not see their way to carry out. He was abundantly satisfied Mr Stafford had been pleased to mention the fact that years ago it was his (Mr Moorhouse's) duty to make a forecast for the province by suggesting for the consideration of the Provincial Council and the public what in his opinion was best for their interests and the interests of the province ; and Sir Stafford had also been pleased to admit that probably by accident, not by inspiration, he did hit on a mercantile expedient for developing resources that would not otherwise have been developed to this day. Of course they understood when they came down to this province that there was a great deal of average good land and a great deal of inferior land available for profit to a certain degree, the only thing that was wanted being a means of connecting these lands with the rest of the world. It was not necessary for b ; m to re-tell a story that eveiybciy knew. Earnest men on both side 3 quarrelled for a time, but ultimately his (Mr Moorhouse's) proposal was favoured by a very large majority after a great deal of blowing about the country. He felt sore in every bone of his body now from the amount of torture it was 'necessary for him to go thi-ough to capture the ear of the vulgar. He did not mean vulgar in an offensive sense. He meant the voting ear of the province. He succeeded in getting it, and the province, consulting its own interest, made the work. He retired from office and Mr Rolleston succeeded him, and he believed that Mr Eolleston was as earnest to serve the province as anybody could be. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) It wa3 not to be supposed, certainly amongst educated men, that because they differed in politic^ personally they despised each other. A difference of opinion was in most cases productive of good results. He was not one of those who would feel depressed at a difficulty between a Superintendent and his Executive, or between the Executive and the Provincial Council. He confessed that the very unexpected tribute paid to him by Mr Stafford had disturbed his balance. He was v quite prepared for some compliment, which was perfectly just, because he wai conscious of the fact that many advantages the province now possessed might be referred to the action of the Government of which he was a member. They never had any politics here to Bpeak of. The policy of New Zealand was to make railways from Auckland to Invercargill. The Provincial Governments ought never to interfere with the main lines of the colony- Before sitting dow.i, he must say that "Mr White's ingenuity and industry were the great means of inducing the province to undertake the construction of the Ralaia bridge, and Mr White was entitled to every credit for the manner in which he carried it out. Mr White and himself never agreed in politics, but he always had a high opinion of him as a man of great ingenuity and industry. (Hear; hear, and cheers.) He had great pleasure in proposing Mr White's health. The toast was drunk amid cheers. Mr White, in returning thanks, remarked that it was easier for him to build a bridge than make a speech. The company then proceeded to the north end of the bridge where the train was in waiting to convey them to Christchurch. On the return journey a short stoppage was made at Dunsandel, and from that station into Christchurch the time occupied was thirty-five minutes. The liie, as previously intimated, will be opened for passenger traffic as far as the South Rakaia on Monday next.

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Bibliographic details

OPENING OF THE RAKAIA BRIDGE., Star, Issue 1642, 30 May 1873

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OPENING OF THE RAKAIA BRIDGE. Star, Issue 1642, 30 May 1873

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