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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 3 (July 2, 1928)

On the West Coast — New Engine Depot at Elmer Lane — Officially Opened

page 46

On the West Coast
New Engine Depot at Elmer Lane
Officially Opened

The official opening of the new locomotive depot at Elmer Lane (Greymouth) took place on 4th June. A large number of people gathered at the depot some time prior to the opening ceremony and inspected the shed, workshops, and all the many and various modern appliances with which the yards are equipped.

Among those present on the platform (erected for the occasion inside the round house), were Messrs. T. E. Y. Seddon M. P., Jas. O'Brien (Deputy Mayor), D. Tennent (representing the Harbour Board), J. McLean (Chamber of Commerce), and C. Uddstrom (Cobden Town Board).

Mr. G. Summers (Assistant Engineer, Railway Department, Christchurch), who supervised the work of constructing the depot, presided.

Top: An interior view of the new locomotive shed at Elmer Lane. Bottom: The 70 ft. turntable.

Top: An interior view of the new locomotive shed at Elmer Lane. Bottom: The 70 ft. turntable.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Summers said that the new engine depot was part of a scheme adopted by the Railway Department to renew all the locomotive sheds which were out of date in New Zealand. He referred to the great increase in tonnage on the West Coast during recent years, and the inadequacy of the old engine sheds to cope with the increased volume of traffic. The Elmer Lane depot, did not, he said, contain the first round house built in New Zealand. The first engine shed to be erected on that pattern was at Lyttelton. The Elmer Lane Depot, however, was the first big depot of its kind built in the Dominion. When the work at the new depot was finished they would have a hundred per cent, efficiency in all departments connected with it. Every bit of coal and ash would be worked by mechanical devices and the water tank also would be mechanically controlled. The sand would be the only thing not worked mechanically for the reason that they did not handle enough of it. Another feature of the new sheds would be the up-to-date accommodation for the staff, a part of the building having been set aside for their exclusive use.

Mr. Summers paid a tribute to those who had carried out the work, amongst whom he mentioned Mr. J. Mahoney, the Foreman of Works, Mr. A. McMaster, leading carpenter, Mr. Eggleton, Inspector of Permanent Way (who was responsible for the laying down of the track and levelling up of the yard), Mr. Wylie, Workshops Foreman (who dealt with the mechanical side), and Mr. Ray, who carried out the lighting arrangements.

Mr. Summers then called upon Mr. Seddon to declare the depot open. On rising to speak, Mr. Seddon stated that he had wondered what sort of ceremony would take place in opening an engine round house. However, the Railway officials told him that he was to drive an engine into the shed. He humorously questioned whether Mr. Sloss (Traffic Inspector), would not demand his driver's license, and he would warn them to keep clear, as he might go through the back door. (Laughter.)

Mr. Seddon read a telegram from the Prime Minister and Minister of Railways (Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates), regretting being unable to attend the opening of the depot, “which marked a new era of prosperity for the West Coast, and would be generally appreciated by the staff” and expressing good wishes for the future of the district. Mr. Seddon spoke in page 47 reminiscent vein concerning other important railway works which had been carried out on the West Coast. As a youngster, he had seen the first train driven through Kumara, and then, later, he had witnessed several important functions in connection with the construction of the Otira Tunnel. The Elmer Lane Depot had been built at a cost of £50,000. The Government had displayed its faith in the future of the West Coast when it put up such a substantial building, as it would not have done so if there were not the possibility of a greater amount of business in the future. Comparing the old and new depots, the speaker said that the old shed was inadequate so far as accommodation and layout were concerned. They would notice how well lighted the new shed was, in great contrast to the old one.

The new yards were equipped with a 70-foot turntable, the one in use hitherto being only 50 feet. The yards were arranged so that it was practically impossible for locomotives to foul each other. The Government had seen fit to erect a £50,000 building, and it was now out to get business. They knew how the Railways were up against it in competition with motor lorries, but he felt sure that they would not show a deficit but a profit, and that the people of the West Coast would stand behind the Department, and show their appreciation and interest in the Railway service. He wished to congratulate the men upon having such a fine building to work in. He congratulated Mr. Mahoney and others who had carried out the work. They had done their work well. He also wished to congratulate the officials, and wish the Department well.

At The Elmer Lane Depot. Painters finishing the glazing of 109 steel sashes containing 5,460 squares of glass and 1 1/2 tons of putty

At The Elmer Lane Depot.
Painters finishing the glazing of 109 steel sashes containing 5,460 squares of glass and 1 1/2 tons of putty

Mr. Jas. O'Brien (Deputy Mayor) apologised for the absence of the Mayor (Mr. J. W. Greenslade). He congratulated the people of Greymouth upon the building of the new locomotive house. It was indeed something which the Railways might be proud of. They were there to celebrate the opening of a fine building and a particularly modern one. He was struck by the liberal amount of lighting, which would assist the men in their work. There was, he said, still a lot of things they wanted, so far as the Railways were concerned, and he hoped that now that the management had been changed the West Coast would be looked after better, both in regard to the Railway and the people. Most people looked on the Railways to make a profit, but he differed in this respect, and thought that the main consideratioi should be to help the people and the district. The West Coast was behind other places in the Dominion in development, but he hoped that it would soon increase. He was with Mr. Seddon when he hoped to see in the future the opening of a new railway station. He congratulated the Railway Department upon erecting such a fine building, and also all the men engaged in the work — from the Engineer downwards. Each and all of them had done very fine work indeed. He hoped it would be the first of many railway improvements to be carried out on the West Coast, as he was sure that the West Coast was soon coming into its own.

Mr. J. McLean congratulated the Railway Department and the people of the district on the occasion. The erection of the locomotive depot and similar improvements would tend to make Greymouth the railway centre on the Coast. The railway and port should work more together. He congratulated Mr. Simmers, who had had the work of erecting the new depot in hand. He had worked very hard, and though some people had complained about going off their sections, he had been very considerate in every way. A lot of the land in the yards page 48 was low-lying and had given trouble, but Mr. Simmers had overcome the difficulty. The speaker concluded by expressing his best wishes for the future of the railway service and that of the district.

Mr. D. Tennent said it gave him great pleasure to be present on that occasion. He congratulated the Department upon the fine round house that had been erected, which, he said, was a great credit to them. He wished also to congratulate the staff, from the Engineer downwards. There was no more efficient body of men than those in the Railway service. He had had a good deal to do with them, and he thought that they would have to go a long way to find anyone more obliging than they were. He thought that what was more important than even a new station was improvements essential to the welfare of the staff.

Mr. Parfitt also tendered his congratulations to the Engineer. They should stand together shoulder to shoulder and carry on the good work which had been done by the pioneers in the past, and the future of the West Coast would then be assured. It was particularly fitting, he thought, that the new Depot had been erected during the Diamong Jubilee.

The gathering then dispersed, and assembled around the turn-table to witness the first locomotive being driven into the shed, which operation was duly performed by Mr. Seddon, assisted by the engine crew. In order to “look the part,” Mr. Seddon donned the engine-driver's cap—much to the amusement of the onlookers.

The locomotive was swung once round on the turn-table and then proceeded into the shed.

The Depot was then duly declared open by Mr. Seddon.

A general view of the new locomotive depot at Elmer Lane, Greymouth, shewing the foreman's office in the foreground.

A general view of the new locomotive depot at Elmer Lane, Greymouth, shewing the foreman's office in the foreground.

The Gardening Cup's Appeal

In order to raise funds to defray expenses in connection with the recent station gardens competition in Otago, an enthusiastic member of the Wingatui staff hit upon the novel idea of writing the following lines, which he displayed (along with the Gardening Cup won by Wingatui last year) in the ticket lobby at that station. The idea worked successfully, a satisfactory sum being placed in the collection box provided:—

Dear Friends,—

Now that I am here,
I'd like to stay another year.
I've tasted Burnside's “spicy” air—
And do not want to go back there!
I'm having here a glorious time,
In Eden's garden so sublime;
I bide my time—at your sweet will,
Your ladies’ smiles all haunt me still;
Your men, I know, are all good sorts,
They “play the game”—real dinkum sports;
And Miss New Zealand can't compare
With your wee maids for beauty rare.
'Twould break my heart to part from you—
So, let me tell you what to do:
Just make a noise inside this tin,
And help the staff first prize to win
With contributions large or small.
The cause is good.
I thank you all!
The Cup.