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

Variety In Brief

page 55

Variety In Brief

In the lambing season numbers of little lambs play around in my neighbour's paddocks.—“Happy little woollies. Many of them, however, are born to a greatness they never expect, or probably would wish for. They are destined to one day occupy a prominent place in the London markets in competition with their foreign brethren and receive the blue stamp of worldwide superiority. Every year, great quantities of wool, mutton and lamb are exported from New Zealand. Nearly one half of New Zealand's vast acreage is grass land, and of this about 16,000,000 acres are improved pasture and 15,000,000 acres grass and tussock country suitable for sheep rearing. Over 90 per cent, of the country's produce is pastoral and the sheep take pride of place.—A.J.

How is this for a speedy and efficient removal of furniture and household goods from the Waikato to Christchurch?

It was Tuesday when the Railway Department took charge of our things —all carefully packed with a minimum amount of fuss or bother, by skilled men. Arriving in Christchurch the following Saturday we succeeded in finding a suitable house the same day. On the Monday afternoon our furniture was unpacked and safely deposited in the new abode; so that within one week of leaving our home in the north, here were we ensconced in a modern bungalow not far from the beautiful Avon. What is more, not a single article had been damaged in transit—everything intact—china, mirrors, and even my supply of home-made jam!

To quote Mr. G. H. Mackley, General Manager, we experienced a household removal “with no bother at all to the householder.“—Waikite.”

* * *

Railway Carriage Inspiration.

Many brilliant ideas have occurred to persons travelling by train. For instance, the invention of Meccano—that universally popular toy—originated in a railway carriage. Mr. Frank Hornby was travelling from London to Birmingham to spend the Christmas holidays with a relative who had a young family. Whilst looking out of the window and wondering how he could amuse the little ones he saw a crane. He then had the idea of making a miniature replica out of strips of metal. The first lot of Meccano sets which he made were given to his friends for their children. The pleasure they brought inspired him to put them on the market. He chose the name Meccano because it is a word easy to pronounce by people of different nationalities.

All this happened thirty-five years ago. Mr. Hornby died recently at the age of 73. He was the managing director of the firm whose works in Liverpool employ over 2,000 hands in the manufacturing of Meccano sets, model engines and miniature railway equipment.—“Pohutu.”

* * *

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.

page 56