The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
There are but two private railways in the Wellington District—the Wellington-Manawatu and the Hutt Park. Wellingtonians are justly proud of the first named. It has conduced largely to the advancement of the City of Wellington, and has been the means of developing a vast agricultural district.
The Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, Limited (directors, Messrs. T. G. M'Carthy, J.P (chairman), John Kirkcaldie, James Smith, David Anderson, C. B. Izard, John Plimmer, and D. J. Nathan; secretary, Mr. W. M. Hannay; manager, Mr. J. E. Fulton, M.I.C.E.; engineer, Mr. J. Marchbanks.) Offices, South British Insurance Buildings, Lambton Quay, Wellington, Telephone 29; P.O. Box 261 Bankers, Colonial Bank of New Zealand. This successful Company is the outcome of public meetings held in Wellington in the month of September, 1880. Two years prior to this, the Government went to the expense of complete surveys of the land lying between the Empire City and Foxton (the terminus of the Foxton-New Plymouth sections of Government railways. Some eighty miles of railway would be necessary to connect the Capital with the West Coast line, and it was decided that this should be done. Operations were commenced, but never completed, as after the expenditure of some £30,000, the works were stopped, there not being sufficient funds available. Pursuant to resolution of public meeting, the Company was initiated, and after considerable negotiations with the Government resulting in a promise of a land grant, the Company was registered. In 1881 the Railway Construction and Land Act was passed, and in the following March a contract was concluded between the Government and the Company. The work of construction was commenced without delay, and pushed ahead with such energy that by September 21st, 1885, the line was open to Paremata (sixteen miles), and on November 29th, 1886, the whole line (eighty-four miles in length) from Wellington to Longburn, distant four miles from Palmerston North, was available for traffic. The Company's line for the first five miles ascends a steep grade of one in forty, with many sharp curves, and passes through several tunnels, going through the suburbs of Crofton, Khandallah, and Johnsonville. During the next few miles there is a similar descent, till reaching Porirua, on the coast, which the line follows for some four or five miles as far as Plimmerton. The line between Plimmerton and Paikakariki, a distance of some ten miles, is varied by an ascending and descending gradient and several more tunnels. The remainder of the route to Longburn, fifty-seven miles in length, is inland, and almost level, the ruling grade being one in one hundred. The stations passed are Paraparaumu, Waikanae, Otaki, Manakau, Levin, Kereru, and Shannon. From the Melbourne Leader of May 4th, 1895, the following extracts are taken:—“The Manawatu line is substantially built throughout, being laid with fifty-three pound steel rails, and is well equipped with engines and carriages. The carriages are all of the American type, which are pretty general in New Zealand, and are very comfortable. There is a dining-car on the through train, which enables travellers to get meals, and is a great boon. The directors and management look well after the comfort of the travelling public. It may be interesting to note here that the subscribed capital of the Company is £850,000, in 170,000 shares of £5 each; £170,000 is paid up, and the Company's debentures amount to £680,000. The satisfactory result of the Company's operations has proved the correctness of the opinions held by the gentlemen who first took the formation of the railway in hand. Mr. J. E. Nathan was the first chairman of the Company, and guided its destinies in a very able manner for five years. Business engagements necessitated his retirement from the chairmanship in 1887. Since 1888 the directors, of whom there are seven, have been presided over by Mr. T. G. M'Carthy, J.P., a gentleman who is very well known in business circles in Wellington, and, indeed, throughout New Zealand. The Company has sold about 80,000 acres of land in proximity to the railway, in farms varying in size from twenty acres up to 2000 acres, and has settled about 3000 people on this land. The revenue has increased from £47,000 in 1887 to £88,000 in 1894, and the Company became dividend-paying in 1891, when it paid shareholders three-and-a-half per cent. During the two succeeding years it paid five per cent., while last year six per cent, was paid; and from the chairman's remarks and the balance-sheet which was submitted, it may be fairly assumed that this rate of interest will be continued. Any description of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company would be imperfect which did not refer to Mr. John Plimmer and Mr. James Wallace. The former gentleman moved the first resolution pledging the meeting to form a Company, agreed to take a large number of shares, and with Mr. Wallace canvassed the city. Mr. Plimmer was thus instrumental in the inception of the Company, and is the only member of the present board who has been continuously a director from its formation. Mr. Wallace was appointed a director when the Company was formed, and afterwards became general manager and secretary. He was forced to sever his connection with it only a few months ago, owing to ill-health, page 351 Wellington owes much to the energy and enterprise of the founders of this Company which has proved such a benefit to the city and district. It may be remarked in conclusion that the Government have taken power to purchase the line, and it is most probable that the railway will be taken over at an early date.
Mr. William Mowat Hannay, the Secretary and General Manager of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company, Limited, has had many years' experience in the management of railways. Mr. Hannay had a thorough railway training in the Old Country, and came to New Zealand in 1875. He at once joined the public service of the Colony in the railways as district manager, from which position he was promoted to the office of assistant general manager, and subsequently became one of the Railway Commissioners. In 1894 the Government decided to change the system of railway management and Mr. Hannay's services were not continued, although Ministers recognised his abilities as a railway manager. On the resignation of Mr. James Wallace as general manager of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company, the directors secured the services of Mr. Hannay as secretary of the Company, which position he now holds.
Mr. James Marchbanks, A.M. Inst. C.E., Resident Engineer of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, was born in 1862 in Dunedin, where also he was educated. In 1878 he entered the Public Works Department in Dunedin as a cadet, and was articled to the late Mr. W. N. Blair, Engineer-in-Chief for the Colony. Completing his term in 1882 he was appointed Assistant Engineer in the Public Works Department at Dunedin. Mr. Marchbanks had several years' experience in the South, during which he made many surveys, including parts of the Otago Central, the Catlin's River, Edendale-Toitois, and Windsor-Livingstone railways. Coming to the North Island, he was similarly employed on the Manawatu Gorge railway. Resigning his appointment under the Government in 1890, he was appointed Assistant Engineer on the Wellington and Manawatu Railway, and was promoted to the post of Resident Engineer in 1892. Mr. Marchbanks was elected an associate member of the Institute of Civil Engineers about the year 1888. He has taken a good deal of interest in outdoor amusements, being a member of the Committee of the Amateur Athletic Club, and a member of the Thornd Bowling Club.
Mr. Charles Bargh, Locomotive and Workshops Foreman of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, was born in Tatham, Lancashire, and apprenticed at the Phœnix Foundry, Foundry, Lancaster, completing his term in 1878. A year later he embarked on the ship “City of Dunedin,” for Port Chalmers, and after two years' colonial experience was appointed engineer at the Addington Railway Workshops. Subsequently he was transferred to the Hillside Workshops, near Dunedin, and was employed there till 1893. when he accepted the responsible position he now holds. Mr. Bargh was married in 1882 to a daughter of Mr. Edward Hack, of Christchurch, and has two daughters and two sons. He is an unattached member of the Masonic fraternity, S.C. In the Protestant Alliance—an Australian Friendly Society—Mr. Bargh has held several offices. Whilst in Dunedin he was much interested in ambulance matters, and took an active part in the formation of a class at Hillside Workshops, and was appointed lieutenant of the Ambulance Corps in Dunedin. He was also for some years a volunteer in the Dunedin Navals, and subsequently in the City Guards.
Mr. John Barr, the Foreman of the Painting Department of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Workshops, was born in Edinburgh in 1846. He was educated in Greenock, and learned his business at the latter city and in Glasgow, completing his term in 1867. Mr. Barr worked at his trade in England and Scotland until 1870, when he went to America. After spending upwards of five years in New York, where he had exceptional opportunities of adding to his knowledge in trade matters, he accepted a position in the workshops of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railway, and retained it for five-and-a-half years. Returning to Great Britain for a short time, Mr. Barr decided upon trying colonial life, and embarked on the s.s. “Arawa,” landing in Wellington in 1886. During the same year he secured employment with the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, and was at once placed in the position he now occupies. Mr. Barr takes the greatest interest in his work, and every carriage manufactured, repaired, or re-painted, receives the most careful attention at the hands of the enthusiastic foreman. Mr. Barr lives at the Lower Hutt, and takes great interest in all matters affecting the well-being of the people. He is a prominent Presbyterian, being an elder of Knox Church, Lower Hutt. While resident in Wellington he occupied the same position at St. James' Church, Newtown. In 1866 Mr. Barr was married to Miss Cousin, of Auchinairn. His family includes six, of whom five are girls. The son is in the employ of the Company, under his father, and most of the ornamental work put into the best carriages is done by him. Two of the daughters are married, the eldest to Mr. W. F. Burgess, the well-known draughtsman and artist, of Wellington, who, with his wife, is now enjoying a trip to the Old Country, and the third daughter to Mr. F. E. Tomlinson, the photographer, of Wellington.
Mr. Thomas Mullan, Inspector of Permanent Way for the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, has had a large experience in railway construction and maintenance. Born in 1841 in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Ireland, where also he was educated, Mr. Mullan came out to the colonies at the age of fourteen. For some years he followed the diggings in Victoria, and ultimately entered the service as timekeeper on the Victorian railways at Woodend. He was again lured by “the gold fever,” and crossed over to Otago at the time of the rush to Switzer's. Later on, Mr. Mullan went over the ranges to the West Coast goldfields. At Westport he joined the public service, and was engaged on surveys, page 353 and afterwards on the construction of the line to Waimangaroa. On the completion of this section he went to Marlborough, where he set off the line between Para and Blenheim stations. Mr. Mullan was next engaged on the Central Railway between Hyde and Naseby, but left the Government service to work under Mr. Higginson, who was constructing the Waimea Plains Railway. After a trip to Melbourne, Mr. Mullan joined his brother in a contract on the Buller road, but left in June, 1883, to assist Mr. Higginson in the wconstruction of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway. He first took charge of the Paremata bridge construction, and afterwards laid the permanent way between Pukerua and Waikanae. In 1886, Mr. Mullan was promoted to the position now held by him. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, though presently unattached. Having been initiated under the Scotch Constitution, he afterwards affiliated with the English, taking the Mark Master and Red Cross degrees. Mr. Mullan was married in 1878 to Miss FitzGerald, of Melbourne, and has two daughtors and two sons.
Mr. James Baring Gould, the Station-master at the Wellington Station of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, was born at Bayswater, near London, and is a son of the late Robert de Tracy Gould, LL.D., Barrister-at Law of the American Bar, for forty years a resident in London, and on his mother's side belongs to a branch of the well-known Baring family. He was educated in Germany, and speaks several modern languages. He came to New Zealand per ship “Otaki” in 1876, arriving in Lyttelton. Mr. Gould, who has travelled a good deal in Europe, gained his initial railway experience during the huge military transports of the Franco-Prussian War, when he was on the German side as a railway and telegraph officer. Mr. Gould also spent some years on the extensive petroleum diggings of the Gallician Carpathians, among the Rathenians, and on his return to his mother country was interested in marble quarrying in North Wales. Soon after his arrival in the Colony Mr. Gould joined the railway service under the Provincial Government of Canterbury. He met with a very serious accident whilst so engaged at Rangiora. He was speedily promoted to the position of stationmaster at several of the South Island stations, and finally was assistant-stationmaster at Christchurch. From this office he was promoted to be chief clerk to the Railway Telegraph Department, under the late superintendent, Mr. W. H. Floyd. On the abolition of the last-named department, Mr. Gould became station-master at Halcombe, in the Manawatn, resigning after three years, owing to ill-health. After eighteen months on a farm in Canterbury his health was completely restored, and in 1885 the position now held was conferred on him. In 1880 Mr. Gould was married to Miss Collins, daughter of Mr. J. Collins, of Christchurch. He has two daughters and one son.
The Hutt Park Railway Company (Limited): Directors, Messrs H. D. Bell, M.H.R. (Chairman), James Lockie, J. Ames, F. Franklyn, and J. Saunders; Secretary, Mr. H. M. Lyon, Lambton Quay, Wellington. Early in 1885 this Company was formed to connect the racecourse along the Petone Beach with the line of railway. The necessary capital was subscribed in Wellington in twenty-four hours, and a line a mile and three-quarters in length, together with the needful sidings, making a total of over two miles, was completed in twenty-six working days. It was opened for traffic in February, 1885, and has been used to convey passengers on special occasions up to the present. Unfortunately portions have been washed away by floods from time to time, and considerable sums have been expended in reinstatements. The Government work the traffic over the Company's line, supplying all rolling stock and collecting fares including admission to grounds.