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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 7 (December 15, 1926)

Wellington District Notes

page 92

Wellington District Notes



Mr. John Clark, Officer in Charge of the Thorndon Goods Department, retired on superannuation on the 8th October, after the completion of 38 years service with the Department. Joining the service as a lad porter at Takapau in 1888, Mr. Clark was stationed at different stations in the North Island. He was transferred to Napier in 1891. During his stay in the latter town, Mr. Clark was unfortunate enough to meet with a serious shunting accident whereby he lost both of his feet. Although severely handicapped, he was not daunted in spirit, and was promoted to the first division on resuming duty. Mr. Clark was later stationed at Kaikora (now Otane), Featherston, Eketahuna, Dannevirke, and Hastings, transferring to Wellington in 1909, where he remained until the date of his retirement. Before finishing duty on the 8th October, Mr. Clark was met by a large number of members of the Goods Department's staff, and presented with a handsome clock, suitably inscribed. In making the presentation Mr. Lezard, Goods Agent, spoke in glowing terms of the loyal and efficient service rendered to the Department by Mr. Clark. Several other members also spoke in a similar strain. Mr. Clark in a neat speech thanked the staff for its gift which would always bring back to him recollections of the many happy days he had spent in the Railway service.

Mr. James Reynolds, an old Railway officer, recently passed away in his 81 st year. The late Mr. Reynolds, who was well known to the older members of the service, joined the Railway Department in 1874, and was guard on the first and only 5 ft. 3 in. broad-gauge railway in New Zealand, which was constructed between Christchurch and Ferrymead. He was subsequently stationed successively at several stations in the Canterbury district prior to being transferred to Westport where he filled the position of wharfinger for some years. He then occupied in turn the position of stationmaster at Port Ahuriri, Napier, and Te Aro (Wellington), resigning from the latter position on superannuation in 1911 after 38 years of service. The Railway Department was represented at the funeral by Mr. E. Casey, Acting-Divisional Superintendent, and Mr. J. F. Mackley, Locomotive Engineer.

Mr. T. G. Glasgow, eyesight specialist, has recently had a busy time in Wellington examining all members of the staff, but members generally have had little difficulty in passing the required tests.

The cricket season opened in the Empire City on Saturday, 17th October. The Railway team took its usual place in the field in the Junior grade, meeting Marists at Wakefield Park. Marists batting first compiled 99 runs, while J. Nash captured 7 wickets and finished with a very good average. The Railway team batted throughout the remainder of the afternoon, putting on the respectable total of 263 runs for the loss of 9 wickets. The chief scorers were, W. F. Gill, 110 (not out); S. E. Fay, 46; J. D. Nash, 42; and S. E. McLeod, 35. If the Railway team can maintain this standard of play it should have little difficulty in carrying off the laurels of the Junior grade championship.

Palmerston North:

It is with regret that on the first appearance of Branch Notes, I have to chronicle the death of Mr. J. Walker, Assistant Locomotive Foreman, Palmerston North, who passed away on the 4th September last after a painful illness. The late Mr. Walker will be greatly missed, as he had a large knowledge of the local conditions affecting the Locomotive branch. He was a man of strong character, in whom the Department and staff alike had every confidence. Our deepest sympathy is extended to his relatives.

Mr. Fraser, of the Locomotive clerical staff, was on the occasion of his marriage, the recipient of a set of stainless cutlery from his fellow officers. In making the presentation, Mr. McKee, Locomotive Foreman, extended every good wish to Mr. and Mrs. Fraser. Mr. Fraser suitably replied.

The annual leave of members of the Locomotive branch is now well up to date, and members are in readiness to take up the running of the new working timetable, which should shortly make its appearance.

Work on the Railway settlement is now almost completed, and the majority of the houses occupied.

Three new sidings have been constructed in the Palmerston North yard, and are proving of great benefit to the shunting staff. They should also considerably relieve the congestion that consistently occurs during the busy season. The new sidings also provide better facilities for the handling of traffic, both outward and inward, and in this connection it is satisfactory to note that the commercial houses have very favourably commented on the improvements made.

page 93

The Rugby season in Palmerston North was not closed until a team selected from members of the Railway Traffic and Locomotive staffs had tried conclusions with a team from the Post and Telegraph Department. After a very willing game the Railway team snatched a close victory by six points to five. Tries for the winners, neither of which was converted, were scored by McKay and Dobson, while Findlay scored for the Post Office team. The referee, Mr. J. Ryan, who had a very difficult task, ably controlled the game.


Stationmasters throughout the district have been busily engaged during the past few months in conducting a personal canvass of the woolgrowers in their respective localities. The results achieved are regarded as very satisfactory, and the wool traffic this season promises to be again very heavy. It behoves every member of the staff to do his utmost to ensure that the traffic receives every attention, and prompt transit, so that stationmasters will be able to approach the growers next season with the fullest confidence.

The Level Crossing Problem in Canada

An official notice entitled “Dangerous practices of motorists, drivers of other vehicles and of pedestrians, at railway crossings,” has been issued by the Railway Commission of Canada, giving to the public a mass of data gathered from the records of the railroad companies, showing the circumstances of several hundred cases of carelessness at highway crossings, during the last 12 months, including not only those which resulted in death or injury, but evidently all which were of such a character as to be useful in conveying a lesson. This information is in the shape of tables, filling 15 pages, giving date, location and brief description, in each case of the dangerous practice; with a column added to show, in the case of automobiles, the license number by which the car or its owner was, or could be, identified. The only comment is a brief introduction to the effect that motor accidents are increasing in frequency, and expressing the hope that the newspapers will join the Board in educating motor drivers and others. “If accidents are to be lessened, the sane motorists must educate the culpably negligent motorists.” From the records of the Canadian National, 124 cases are given. A table of equal or greater length is given from the Canadian Pacific. Most of the cases are those of drivers who persisted in driving upon a crossing in spite of warnings, and often breaking through gates. Tables are given also showing the numbers of pedestrians and bicycles passing over crossings while the gates were closed.

Testing the Westinghouse
Extract from an old Report

It is interesting to note that in the report of the Superintending Engineer (Constructed Railway) to the Engineer in Chief, Public Works Department, dated 11th July, 1876,—just over fifty years ago—reference is made to the satisfactory nature of the trials of Westinghouse continuous air brake gear, two sets of which were specially imported for trial. The trials took place between Silverstream and Upper Hutt on the 25th March, 1876, and between Auckland and Mercer on the 12th and 15th May, 1876.

The train upon which the first mentioned trials were made consisted of a tank engine (4 wheels coupled), a guard's van and three passenger cars (6 wheels). Estimated weight 37 1/2 tons. The engine and guard's van had the air brake mechanism connected to the ordinary hand brake fitted with wooden chocks. The cars had cast iron chocks, and the brakes on the engine and van were so arranged that they could be worked by hand in the usual way, independently of the air brake. The compressed air for the application of the brake power by the guard was stored in a reservoir under the van.

Similar arrangements obtained in the Auckland tests, except that the train weighed slightly over 59 tons. It was claimed that the trials at Auckland were the most severe to which, up to that time, the air brakes had been subjected in any country.

The engineer concludes this aspect of his report by stating that the advantages of a brake that gave such entire control of the train to the driver and guard on railways with such heavy grades as were common in this country, could not be overestimated.

Our Winning Way
From the “Auckland Star” of 4th Sept., 1926.

“An announcement was made to-day that the passenger steamer service between Onerahi and Auckland by the Northern Steamship Company will be discontinued after September 23rd, owing to the falling off in patronage due to railway competition. The steamer Ngapuhi makes her last trip from Auckland to Onerahi on the evening of Wednesday, September 22nd.”

* * *

Speaking at a meeting of Motor Transport officers in Atlantic City on the Relationship of Highway Rolling Stock to the Road Bed, Mr. A. B. Moore expressed the opinion that heavy vehicular operation over highways would ultimately be abolished by legislative action because of the damaging effect to the highway surface.