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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Cross Creek

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Cross Creek.

Cross Creek, about forty miles north-east of Wellington, is on the railway line at the foot of the Rimutaka incline. The settlement consists of a railway station and enginesheds, and a number of railway employees' cottages, with a schoolhouse and master's residence. It is seven miles south of Featherston, where the settlers get their stores, etc. Communication is by road and rail. The place is so situated amongst the hills that in winter it gets only about an hour's sunshine in the day. The hills around, once heavily wooded, now present a partially cleared appearance. Cross Creek runs through the settlement into Lake Wairarapa.

The stationmaster is also postmaster for the place. Mails arrive from Wellington at 9.57 a.m. and 6.6 p.m., closing for Wellington at 8.30 a.m. and 4.45 p.m.

Services are conducted fortnightly in the school by Mr. Foston, Wesleyan Home Missionary from Featherston.

The Rimutaka incline, which is the steepest piece of railway line in New Zealand, extends from Cross Creek railway station to the Summit, a distance of nearly three miles. The grade is one in fifteen, and the line winds round the hills to the Summit, sometimes with rather dangerous curves, till it rises from 273 feet above sea level at Cross Creek to 1144 feet at the Summit. The railway here is constructed on what is known as the Fell system, with an additional central rail. When a train reaches Cross Creek from the north, the ordinary engine is detached, and a Fell engine for every eight loaded waggons and van, or every four carriages and two vans, is attached. These engines can each draw a load of sixty-five tons up the incline. An incline van with special brakes is also hitched on. The train then proceeds up the incline at the rate of five miles an hour, under the charge of the incline guard and engineers. The centre rail is gripped on each side by wheels revolving horizontally underneath the engine. There are two pairs of these wheels on each engine, pressing in towards each other. When descending, the centre rail is gripped between cast iron blocks fitted under the engine so as to press towards each other. The friction is so great that, after taking a heavy train down, these blocks are so worn that they have to be replaced. A workshop with a stock of these blocks is therefore part of the plant at Cross Creek, and fitters are kept to replace the blocks as required. The engines, of which there are six, are thirty-seven to thirty-nine tons weight each. Three of these engines are in daily use during the summer. After making the ascent with a train, the engines usually wait and bring the next train down. The ascent is made in forty minutes with a passenger train, and the descent in twenty minutes. In two places where the train crosses deep gullies, the line is protected by high wooden fences to break the force of the gusts of wind that at one time, before this means of protection was devised, blew part of a train over the embankment. The line is now, however, well secured against such possibilities. The only inconvenience suffered by passengers is the rather awkward dip of the carriages, and the delay in getting over this three miles of country. Accidents are almost unknown, the permanent way being attended to with special care, and the greatest caution observed in conducting trains up and down the incline. The Fell system was first tried on the Mount Cennis line in Europe, but is not used elsewhere in the world, as far as is known, except on the Rimutaka incline.

The staff at Cross Creek consists of Messrs. C. E. Bernard (stationmaster), Alex. Allan (driver-in-charge), R. Hope, T. Kirby, and F. Taylor (drivers), J. Walker, J. Lilly, and H. Livingstone (firemen), with guards, cleaners, coalman, fitter, and porter.

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Cross Creek Railway Station, the next after the Summit station, on the Rimutaka Incline, is thirty-six miles from Te Aro Station, Wellington, and 273 feet above sea level. Mails arrive and depart by the evening trains. Mr. C. E. Bernard is the stationmaster.

Mr. Charles Edward Bernard, Stationmaster, etc., at Cross Creek, was born near Dublin, Ireland, in 1847. After attending a private school in his native city, he emigrated to New Zealand, arriving in Nelson in 1868. For three years Mr. Bernard worked on a sheep station, and afterwards served in the Armed Constabulary for five years. In 1880 he joined the Railway Department as signalman at Cross Creek, and thirteen years later he was promoted to the position he now holds.

Mr. Alexander Allan, Driver in charge at Cross Creek, was born in Nigg, Rosshire, Scotland, in 1848. Leaving school at fourteen years of age, Mr. Allan went to learn engineering with Messrs. Faulkner Bros., of Inverness, and after serving two years he returned to his native town, where for five years he was engaged in the engineering business on his own account. After a short time in North America, Mr. Allan went to London, where he worked for a year with Messrs. Currie Bros., the well-known steamship owners, and for two years as a millwright in Woolwich Arsenal. Landing in Wellington on the 1st of January, 1880, he got employment in the Phœnix Foundry, and a year later he received an appointment in the New Zealand Government Railway Department as fitter at Cross Creek. After four years service he was appointed fitter in charge, and was subsequently promoted to the position he now holds. Mr. Allan is well qualified for the responsible office he fills. Sober, cautious, and capable, he exercises a vigilant supervision over all entrusted to his care. He is married, and has five children.

Cross Creek Public School —a wooden building of two rooms—has thirty-four children on the roll, the average attendance being about thirty.

Mr. Samuel Turkington, Master in charge of Cross Creek Public School, who holds a D3 certificate, was born in County Down, Ireland. He was first educated at the National School, and afterwards at an Academy in Belfast, and finally in Dublin. In 1881 he married the eldest daughter of Mr. Moses Matthews, of Dromore, County Down, and sister of Dr. James Nelson Matthews, of London. They travelled through Ireland, England, and the Continent, and in 1882 sailed by the Orient Line of mail steamers via Melbourne for New Zealand. His first teaching appointment in New Zealand was at Tenui School, where he spent six years. Besigning in 1890 he entered the Otago College, and returning after two years, he was appointed to the Cross Creck School in 1893.

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