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MOTOR-CARS AND BICYCLES. INTERVIEW WITH MR N! OATES. The Monowai, which arrived at Lyttelton this morning, included in its list of passengers Mr N. Oates, pf the firm of Messrs Oates. Lowry and Co., who leffc New Zealand in April last on a visit to Paris and England. Many of Mr Oates's experiences are interesting. Evidently he has no exalted opinion' of the 500-mile train ride through France secured by landing at Marseilles, by ■which many tourists nowadays break the journey to London. "It is," sayß'he, -' one of the most unpleasant trips ever man took. This was on a first-class train/ too, which is supposed to cover the distance in. thirteen hours; the ordinary trains take a couple of days." Only a night was spent in Paris, and then, by a happy chance, the traveller landed in the great English metropolis on " Pretoria Day. " London," says Mr Oates, ," whs gone mad. It. really seemed as though the whole population — men, women and children — were bereft of their senses. I will tell you some of the antics that were ihdulge<J in, eVen by adults. \'ou would be sitting *n a car when someone, with a small ferfther which everyone seemed to- be provided with , touched the back of your neck, Involuntarily you would duck your head, and at the same time a dose of paper pellets' would be dropped down your back with irritating consequences. Another phase of this j larking* 1 in which all seemed to indulge, was the blaring into one's ears of hideous frum|>etts. ■No one took offence, and the whole proceedings were the strangest I had ever eeeh 6r heard of." . While in Coventry Mr Oates purchased I from the Raglan Cycle Company a .Tour- ;j wheeled TObtbr-car, with. 'which he seems to 1 have travelled the country over. One of his tours was from Land's^ End to Whitehaven. ' "My longe's-fc day's ride? One hundred and fifty miles. But you must, remember I ' was out for pleasure, and had ho notion of getting out of bed iii the email! hours of the morning for the purpose of establishing a record." j Have you «ecured.the agency for any par- 4 ticular make of motor car? I "N6t at all. t don't need to. My intention is >to inahfacture them here /myself. I can get out any parts I want, and as for patents, the main principles applied in the motive f>bwer of motor cars We have already in gas engines." What do you think of the prospects of a motor trade being established here? " Well, to my mind, Canterbury is an ideal place for .the motor ; the roads are so level and the population is not too dense." Mr Oates did not return with any exalted opinion of the English yokel. While "moting" along a. road with a companion, he would possibly come to a turning where many roads met. " Which way to ," the niotor-carists would ask. " Aw/ beg your pardon, mister," the countryman would slowly drawl, or possibly content himself with touching his hat and- gaping in silent astonishment at the travellers. Before a reply could be got, they would be a quarter «f a "mile down the road, leaving the other still wondering. "Why, they seem to worship anyone who has a better suit than themselves," added the New Zealahder in a tone of disgust, as ; he contrasted it with the state of things prevailing, in New Zealand. , i. The restrictions placed upon motor traffic in England are very stringent, and Mr Oates refers to it in h>s own graphic style. "We might be 'travelling along a nice level '"dad at a twenty (ft thirty-mile gait — my driver Was pfe'tty 'daring' — and we would see in the distance someone driving a horse that (hadn't sufficient, energy to 100k -"top. Jet, alone shy; but if the driver chnse to raise his band, we had tc pull .up dead, and -wait till he passed by. Then we had- to ke«ip a bom constantly sounding, and the noise was maddening. The youngsters' find 1 the motors fit sr^'ecfc for amusement, and whereever you fe yon are greeted with " teuf, teuf/' in in* ation of the motor sound, ;ill it becomes rather monotonous. In France tilings are different. Everything in Paris seems to make way for the mdtdr-caf j Which, apparently, has complete charge of the streets." ■* Then you spent some time in* Paris? "Yes, I went over for a week, and, "by the wayi got a very poor opinion of ' Cooks' " arrangements, by which I travelled. We were taken to\tho Exposition Hotel, supposed to provide accommodation for 1000 people, but as there were 1300 of us 'the circumstances were rather unpleasant. The. catering too,' was very- unsatisfactory. One day we- were taken for a long drive to Versailles, and were shown beautiful palaces and fine buildings until my neck ached with looking up. After that I went for no more drives, but spent my time at the Exhibition." "What did I think of it? It. was too big. It would have taken some months to go through it. I was mostly interested in the motor seectian, but found a great difficulty in getting to know anything, as the attendants did not speak English. There is no mistake the French, motors are wonderfully finished. The enamelling and plating is superb, and the style of the machines, too, till they look more like lords' carriages than articles of common use." From your investigation of the motor indu'tiy in England, would you consider that it is likely to overtake France in"., the construction of motors? — "I wouldn't like to say that, but -with, the. motor. firms in England busy is no name for it." And the cycle trade?— " Just the reverse. It will be a couple of years yet before it racovfrs from the. terrible slump that followed the Inborn, and meantime it is a question of the fjirviral of tho fittest. T was in one of (he largest* factories ' the'rf^— its dimensions may be judged when I tell you that there is a, hotel included 1 in the works where the workmen dine— and noticed in one of the offices two lady typists ; one was doing some knitMng.tlic other reading a novel. A lot o f,tlie plant was idle." " I expected to learn a good many points in cycle construction, but found that there is little that they could teach me. .Excepting that their machinery is better adapted for turning out larger quantities than our-3 is, English factories have no great advantage over us." A striking instance of the. manner in which foreign manufacturers are competing with England was giveu by Mr Oates. "While I was in Bristol," said lie, "I saw an immense- building, -which is being erected as an electric light station for lighting the city. It is all of iron. Thr, contract- for the building was secured by <m American firm, -while a German firm is to supply the electric plant. And this, mind you, in one of the chief manufacturing towns of England." Mr Oates illustraites what he considers the cause of the foreign success as againsfc England thus:— "You go to an English manufacturer and say you want a certain thing made. He says, ' What's the ufc of that ; I have a better thing hew.' The Englismnn wants to put- his own idea into the work. You go to a Yankee firm. It docs the work without questioning, and afterwards shows you his own, and says, 'What do you hink of this?' " " At the same time, it must not be forgotten that the English engineering firms arc. busy all round." It is twenty-six year? since Mr Oates left Redi-uth, in Cornwall, to come to New Zealand, and naturally he, spent a good deal of time about his old home. From being formerly a mining county, Cornwall is now largely dependent upon tourist traffic. " The locomotive workshops where I was employed as ». boy then employed 150 hands. Now most of the plant ha? been removed, and only sixteen remain. Of these, fifteen were there in my time. They don't wander very far in those parts." During his six months' absence, Mr Oates has enjoyed excellent health, and has returned all the better for his holiday. •

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A NEW ZEALANDER ON TOUR, Star, Issue 6936, 27 October 1900

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A NEW ZEALANDER ON TOUR Star, Issue 6936, 27 October 1900