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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 2 (June 1, 1932)

The Great Northern Railway

The Great Northern Railway.

Another work which was held up by the difficulty of raising capital was the Great North Railway. The Act authorising page 43 the construction from Addington to the south bank of the Ashley (Rangiora) was passed by the General Assembly, on 7th December. 1864. On 30th May, 1865, the Superintendent, Mr. S. Bealey, in addressing the Provincial Council, stated, that owing to the financial depression in the colony and the difficulty in negotiating the Provincial debentures some delay had been inevitable, but he trusted, at an early date, to take steps to put in hand the contemplated line to the northern
“Black as the pit from pole to pole.” (Rly. Publicity photo.) A flashlight photograph of a night scene at Taihape engine shed (North Island Main Trunk Line), New Zealand.

“Black as the pit from pole to pole.”
(Rly. Publicity photo.) A flashlight photograph of a night scene at Taihape engine shed (North Island Main Trunk Line), New Zealand.

part of the Province. On the 21st November, 1865, the Superintendent reported that the survey of the Great Northern line had been completed, and steps were being taken to ascertain the extent and value of property to be purchased.

On the assembling of the Provincial Council on 7th June, 1867, it was stated that a sum of money would be placed on the estimates for the purpose of proceeding with the Northern Railway. It was considered the settlers to the North had fair and just claims to the execution of this project, which should be carried out immediately on the negotiation of the loan debentures.

On 26th March, 1868, the following resolution was before the Council: “That in the opinion of this Council, with a view to carrying out the frequent promises of the Government to the residents of the northern districts with reference to railway communication with the metropolis and the seaport of the Province, as also to contribute materially to the productiveness of the very large expenditure on the Lyttelton to Christchurch railway, be it resolved that capitalists be invited to undertake the construction of a railway from Christchurch to the south bank of the Kowai and to furnish the necessary rolling stock and buildings and to work the same under the supervision of Commissioners appointed by the Government and the contractors under a contract of 5 per cent, interest per annum on the expenditure not exceeding £150,000; and that the sum of £40,000 of the unexpended balance of the loan be vested in three or more trustees with power to loan the same at not exceeding 8 per cent, per annum on freehold security, and, as required, apply the principal and accrued interest in liquidating the guarantee to the contractors for a period of ten years from the date of contract, and that it be a special request to the Government to give effect to these resolutions without delay.”

page 44

After considerable discussion, during which the question was raised whether such a sum as was proposed would be available out of the balance of the loan, the original resolution was modified, and the Council reported: “That in the opinion of this Council it is expedient that a railway be constructed from Christchurch to the south bank of the Kowai.”

The Superintendent did, by advertisement, solicit offers by capitalists for the construction of the railway, but without satisfactory response.