The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 6 (October 1, 1929)
Recuperating By Rail — and The Iron Horse & The Meat Horse
Exploring the Interior.
Dear reader, in what manner do you act, react, and counteract when you fancy that you detect a fault in your physiological architecture, such as a warping of the props, a sagging of the arches, atrophy in the attic, or overstrain of the personal magnetism which stringhalts your ability to deliver the spoken word with the horsepower necessary to induce chubb-hearted capitalists to peel their wads to the core?
When you feel that your interior decoration calls for renovation, and your personality is suffering from the inroads of pessimism, do you charge round the spinach bed every morning in a semi-raw condition; do you take deep breaths in short pants, adopt the feeding habits of the Angora goat, and go to bed with the hens and get up with the milkman, or do you disclaim any responsibility for your physiology by gathering up your personal debris and carrying it to a man of medicine for examination and rectification? An egg to an elephant that you do!
When finally you stand before him, divulging all your physical faults which have lain hidden from the world for so long, you feel yourself to be an awful example of what Nature never intended. The man of mystery glances you over with ill-concealed contempt. He pokes you scornfully where your chest ought to be. He strikes you nonchalantly over the liver, slams you in the wind, and sighs. You are too weak to hit back. In fact, you feel that, after all, perhaps he is right; you are a mistake; you are an infringement of the rules; you should never have been allowed; your latitudes and longitudes are all mixed up. By some inexplicable oversight you were allowed to slip past the censor—perhaps as an example to others; who knows? The doctor turns his back and bows his head as though the burden were too great; then suddenly he throws a quick glance over his shoulder as if to satisfy himself that you really are true, and not merely the result of overwork. Finally he sits at his desk with his head in his hands, probably brooding on the inscrutability of Nature. No doubt he is also considering the advisability of writing to the “Poultice” about you, under the heading “Misprints in the Book of Nature,” or “Should A Doctor Dwell.” Eventually he pulls himself together as one would say: “Enough of this weakness.” These things must be faced, and after all, even Nature has her “off days.”
Then he listens-in to one or two respiratory items with a rubber set, plays “eena-deena-dinah-dough” up and down your spine with his knuckles, counts your ribs to discover what it really is that holds you together, and then goes off into a trance.
But, dear reader, according to the law of averages, how often does the “Put” side of your bank-book score over the “Take” columns decisively enough to enable you to emulate the skipper of the schooner Hesperus, or even the man who essayed to cross the Atlantic on his uppers.
The Permanent Way is the Only Way.
But be not sorely distressed by your financial inability to hunt tamo'shanters and decanters in the highlands of Caledonia, catch red herrings in the Black Sea, stalk llamas in pyjamas through the wilds of the Bahamas, chase cheeses round the Zuyder Zee, or trap the deceptive demijohn in the great American Desert.
Let those who will, sing of the ocean's heaving bosom (to say nothing of their own) and the splendours of foreign travail, but permit me to say on behalf of the management that New Zealand's permanent way can put it over any other way, whichever way you look at it. For restoring the pristine blush to the red corpuscles reclaiming the skin you love to clutch, and reorganising the affairs in the department of the interior, the railway is capable of handing the raspberry to any other means of travel known to Cook.
Consider, debilitated reader, the advantages of travelling by train through your own woodland scenes, as against dodging the “customs” through the sights, sounds and smells of “furrin parts” and at a mileage cost which is responsible for the permanent settling down of the lost tribes of Israel.
Let us examine the N.Z.R. as a curative for such modern maladies as salesman's throat, that tyred feeling (common among road-hogs), curvature of the financial column (contracted by trying to make ends meet), lightness of the head (prevalent among the old-young and the young-old), Scotsman's cramp (usually in the hands), “spots” before the eyes, gold fever, financial frenzy, singing in the head (vulgarly known as the radio-rats) and numerous other disorders discovered by the statistician.
Anyhow, let us take it for granted that you lack that velvety feeling in the cylinders described by benzine boosters; that bounding irresistibility common to the “life of the party,” the man who fills the manager's chair after three lessons, and hard-boiled Hector who flickers through the “flickers” nightly.
You totter into the railway booking office, assisted by the taxi-driver and a sentimental policeman, feeling like the echo of a burst tyre.page 46
Nature's Garden Party.
But—what happens the moment your hand closes over those two inches of patriotically coloured cardboard emblazoned with a strange device and bearing cryptic signs and symbols. Suddenly you experience a feeling of freedom. The mystic talisman in your fist is the key to Nature's garden, where the wind blows fresh and free and is fragrant with the scent of bush and grass; where the hills dissolve into the blue mystery of the distance, where life abounds and nature cries aloud to you to Live; where existence is more than Existence, and the pulses pound with the desire to “follow the sun”; where the sky is open and the land is wide; where the sun welcomes you and the wind buffets you good-naturedly until the blood romps round your system like the good red vintage it ought to be.
All this you feel—and more, for when the train pulls in like a good old staunch friend you warm up to memory. Then you recollect past journeys and anticipations, experienced before you began to grow thin on top and thick round the meridian; Odysseys of youth, when Romance lay round the next bend and adventure beyond the next cutting; when the sweeping landscape was all yours to dream on, and you looked with eyes that saw beyond the far blue ranges; eyes that peopled the plains with galloping heroes, filled the valleys with deeds of derring-do, and the whole world with the vague unrest of Adventure.
Thus you begin to live again. Without your saying “get thee behind me, sciataca,” “lump it, lumbago” or “fly flu’” as advised to in the text-books on “psychological lollipops,” you feel your complaints becoming detached like devitalised fungi. Joy glows in your heart, just beneath where you imagine you have put your ticket. This piece of cardboard says Blossom Junction, so why should You worry. There are some three or four thousand enthusiastic railiologists behind you to see that you do get to Blossom Junction.
You loll back in your seat, experiencing that lullsome sensation—which you have never really forgotten—of being pushed in a pram. “Let ‘er go,” you murmur happily as the scenery begins to unwind itself past your window.
Europe, Chirrup, Barcelona, Gorgonzola, Beyrut, Beyrhum, and the Bay of Naples leave you cold. You say with wise old Bawbee Burns: “North, east, south, west—hame's best.”
Softly, you sing with the wheels, which click and clack and chuckle underneath you, like a girls’ college with the giggles.
Circles of Song.
Follow the wheels, follow the sun,
Over the ranges, under them, too,
Stick to us, digger, and we'll stick to you,
Bottle your worries and sit on the cork,
Soon you'll be different as cheese is from chalk,
Follow us brother, and never go wrong,
Follow the galloping circles of song.
We are the boys of the loco, brigade.
Safe as a cradle and swift as a blade,
Follow us, brother, and see how we “lick,”
Clicketty clacketty clicketty Click.
Meet the Meat Horse.
Seeing that since Stephenson first fired his “Rocket” the railway engine has been dubbed the iron horse, is it not meet that we should turn from the iron horse to the meat horse, that noble animal who used to be the friend of man, and who still keeps alight the flickering flame of hope in the hearts of optipunters and furnishes the material for the “sport of kinks?”
Of all my equine associates I remember The Lunatic best, because he was the worst. He was as ugly as a night of terror, as rangy as a half-built house, and as mad as Ophelia. Although I would rather have ridden a push-bike over Sutherland Falls than mount him, he had his uses. If there was one thing he could do it was sledging firewood. I mind one day in particular, it was windy, and wind affected The Lunatic's lack of mentality.
The Lunatic's Lapse.
Meanwhile, The Lunatic lay on his back endeavouring to kick the roof off the world.
As my late friend ‘Orace, the ostler, was wont to observe, “There's something abart ‘orses—”
Certainly the worst horse is something superior to the schoolboy's definition: “A ‘orse is a quadrapig with a leg on each corner and a head on one end. At the other end is a tale which he unfolds like Hamlet or anny other animil.”
Like Hamlet and the horse, “I would a tale unfold,” but I needs must slam the stable door with the obvious observation that, for connecting up diverse points of the compass, the meat horse has been superseded by his big brother with the iron constitution. Especially popular is the iron horse when King Holiday reigns and there is Reduced Fare On The Railway.
Auckland's First Locomotive
It was in 1863 that the first locomotive was put together at Newmarket—it had been imported from England—and it seems to have been a very modest specimen of Stephenson's art.
The engine was made by Messrs. Manning, Wardle and Co., Leeds, Yorkshire, and was sent out per the “Andrew Jackson.” It was a tank engine of the inside cylinder class, with six wheels, all coupled together. The cylinders were 11ins. diameter and 17ins. stroke; the wheels 3ft. diameter (with Lowmoor tyres); total wheel base, 10ft. 3ins.; length of boiler barrel, 7ft. 3ins. by 2ft. 9ins. dia. (made of best Yorkshire plates).
The internal fire-box was made of copper; the brass tubes, 78 in number, being 2ins. in external diameter. A saddle tank, holding 40 gallons of water, was placed on the top of the boiler, making the total weight of the whole engine about 16 tons. The engine was fitted with powerful brakes, because of the heavy inclines on the railway.
The late Mr. Thomas Cheeseman used to tell an amusing story about this first locomotive. It was considered too heavy to be landed at the Queen Street wharf, then a rather crazy wooden structure, and the late Captain Casey was therefore engaged to lighter it ashore in one of his craft. This Captain Casey was quite a character in his way, and in the old files there are some very amusing advertisements from his hand.
He used a good deal of the advertising space for the time-tables of his boats that used to run up to Riverhead, to air his opinions on the political questions and people of the day, and even now, when they are all dead and gone there is a laugh in those caustic comments.
The skipper brought the wonderful locomotive ashore all right, on the waterfront where Customs Street now runs, and got it on board a trolley, which was then taken out to Newmarket, where the only bit of line was available.
The passage of the old skipper and his men through the streets must have been something in the nature of a triumphal march, for in the account afterwards presented to the Railway Commissioners, were two items, one a charge for a trumpeter to blow a bugle in front of the trolley in its journey up Queen Street, via Khyber Pass, and so on to Newmarket, and the other was for 120 quarts of beer supplied to sundry workmen who assisted in the progress of the engine from the waterfront to Newmarket.
It is rather sad to relate that both items were challenged by the auditor.