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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 1 (April 1, 1937)

Railway Social At Bluff

Railway Social At Bluff.

There was a large gathering of Railway officials at the recent annual social of the Bluff Railway Staff, among those present being the Hon. T. F. Doyle, M.L.C., and prominent representatives of business, shipping, and other interests closely related to the Railway Services.

Mr. A. Ramage, of the local staff, occupied the chair and welcomed the guests. The toast, “The New Zealand Railways,” was proposed by Mr. E. A. Nichol. In the course of a very interesting speech upon the inception of the Bluff-Invercargill railway, Mr. Nichol referred to the early difficulties associated with the permanent way. “If the train,” he said, “which was composed of a small engine (named the Lady Barkley) and very small cars, stopped at certain places, there was a distinct subsidence, necessitating constant attention by the surfacemen. The first fare (return) on this line was 7/6. It did not attract the public, and was a loss to the then Government, which later leased the service to Messrs. S. Nichol (the speaker's father) and Shearer. This was in the late ‘sixties. The lessees, to increase the popularity of the service, reduced the fare and gave other inducements to encourage railway traffic. For instance, when passenger ships called at Bluff it was customary to give the captain a free pass to Invercargill; this meant that passengers had no fear of losing their passage whilst the skipper was enjoying the delights of Invercargill.”

An amusing incident related by Mr. Nichol referred to an excursion to Win ton when the train stalled on the wooden rails at Makarewa and the services of the passengers had to be requisitioned to get it going again. Mr. Nichol went on to mention that Mr. T. Arthur was persuaded to become stationmaster at Invercargill. He filled the position so successfully that the Provincial Government eventually made him Traffic Manager at Wellington. References by Mr. Nichol to early shunting activities on the Bluff Wharf by means of a bullock, caused hearty laughter. The speaker concluded his interesting speech with an expression of appreciation of present day facilities and unfailing courtesy of officials. —T.W.P.

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