THE KING EDWARD BARRACKS.
THE FOUNDATION CEREMONY
The Premier, in the guise of Minister of Defence, arrived from Wellington this morning to lay the foundation stono of the King Edward Barracks aikLtoi declare the work well and truly done. The Barracks are the buildings that are replacing the ancient structures which the inceudiarist has often tried to fire, with varying success. A charred room still stands on the land, a dismal monument to the energy of the destroyer, and it serves to give all the more prominent relief to the giant ribs of tho old drillshed' s successor.
Foundation stones are generally installed before a building begins to rear itself aloic to any conspicuous extent, but tlie piece of granite which has been onosen to play a leading part in today's ceremony will be merely a pebble in the beach of construction. Indeed, by outward appearances it would seem that another day or two's delay with the laying of the rock would entail a mining anU engineering problem jn order to find a place for it. Twenty huge latticed iron girders rest- on their concrete bases, and this morning men were busy with the erection of the last great arc of the series. These gigantic semi-circles of metal are the skeleton of the barracks. Iho walls, too, rsza well on their way upward. " Hustle >; has been the key-note of the opera tione, and the workmen have Bestirred themselves, nobly. Bricklayers have been engaged during the night, plying their trade by gaslight, and other Workmen, too, have been industrious long after sun-down. By the first week in August, the architects said, the buildings would be completed, and, judging' by tho present rush, their prophecy is likely to be fulfilled. This hurry makes a quaint contrast with tho preceding lull. The apparent apathy with which the authorities long seemed to treat Christchurch's need of a habitable drillshed has been followed by a display of building energy w;hich easily surpasses anything ever Been in the city..
. The Premier has not thought fit to order the elements to behave themselves. He has, on one or two occasions, (accomplished as much &$ Joshua ever did, in the way of juggling with the universe. "When ramrods of rain were lashing the earth he has commanded the sun to shine, and the greatfather of the heavens has hastened to obey the Minister's mandate. To-day, however, the sky is sullen, and a moisture, which fs neither rain, mist, fog nor drizzle, is coming down persistently. But Mr Seddon may be tolerating this state of affairs in order to test the mettle of the Volunteers.
There was not a great must-er of forces for the preliminary parade, but the absence of many bold defenders was not evidence that they were afraid of the hacking cough or had not sufficient courage to brave the onslaught of catarrh. Thursday is an unfavourable time for musters of Volunteers because nine-tenths of the men have their halfholiday^on Saturday, and are, therefore, mostly unable to obtain leave on other week-days.
A slight accident was nearly responsible for a delay in the ceremony. The granite which forms the foundation etono is, of courso, a very hard mineral, difficult to cut. A special saw which tvas being used to hollow, out the inEcription bent, and masons had to oomplete the work by hand. Their tools, however, were soon dulled By* the rock, and the lack of facilities for tempering them complicated th^task of engraving; but by perseverance the men finished the lettering, and the product of their handicraft was very creditable.
At a quarter to three, overcoated and umbrellaed men and women clustered round the stone, which was prettily polished, and inscribed in letters of gold: " King Edward Barracks. This stone was laid by the Bight Hon. R. J. Seddon, -Premier, and^ Defence Minister. 13-7-05." The rock was anchored to the iron . rope of a de-nick arrangement, controlled by an engine, waiting for a. touch from the high priest. A detachment from the Permanent Force, under Sergeant-Major Webb, stood guard in front of the sacred epot, and less-honoured troops lingered amid the framework of the new building. Bugles blew merry blasts, iwid the people joked and chatted light-heartedly in spit© of the weather's perversity. vOffieors attired in warm-looking colours relieved the general drabnees of the scene, and a band was prepared to drive the gloom away. At three o'clock small boys raised a cry of " 'Ere 'c comes," and the brazen instruments gave' "Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue." It was the Premier indeed, and he at once mounted the platform erected for him beside a table decked with the Union Jack and , a large decanter of. water, which some pessimists took as^ an' augury of a long speech. At the_ invitation of Colo-nel Ba.uchoT* the Minister of Defence accomplished the part allotted to j him.
The vitality of tho snail is remarkable. One that was glued to a card in a museum for four years came to liff on being immersed in warm water. Some specimens in the collection of a naturalist revived after they apparent ly had been dead for fifteen years.
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