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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 11 (March 1, 1929)

A Flood of Light — Electricity for Dunsandel Station and Yards

page 29

A Flood of Light
Electricity for Dunsandel Station and Yards

The action of the Department in connecting Dunsandel railway station with the electrical system of the district, was acclaimed at an enthusiastic meeting of the local residents held recently at the Dunsandel Town Hall. We are indebted to the “Ellesmere Guardian” for the following interesting report of the proceedings.

Turning on” Ceremony

All the great State services have to endure their full share of criticism from people who profess to know better than those controlling and operating those services how they ought to be run. Perhaps none of the State undertakings has to put up with more criticism than the Railway Department. And while the public is over-generous in its criticism, it is generally rather tardy in handing out compliments when they are due. It was refreshing, therefore, to attend a rather unique function held at Dunsandel Town Hall, when residents from every part of the district assembled in sufficient numers to more than fill the hall for the purpose of showing their appreciation of the action of the Railway Department in having the railway station and yards lighted by electricity.

Mr. D. T. Wraight, a well-known district farmer, who presided, mentioned at the opening of the function that, since Mr. W. R. Breach had been appointed stationmaster, he and the members of his staff had performed some very commendable work in the direction of laying out and tending gardens, to improve, from an aesthetic point of view, the appearance of the station and its surroundings. Some assistance had been given by the residents.

Too Much a Matter of Course.

“It has been truly said that in a progressive age such as the present we are all inclined to take our benefits and privileges rather too much as a matter of course,” said Mr. Wraight at a later stage when several speeches were delivered. The presence of so many people that evening indicated that they were desirous of expressing their appreciation of something that would undoubtedly prove beneficial to the residents as a whole. With a reference to the negotiations which had led up to the turning on of the current, Mr. Wraight concluded his speech by saying: “The Department has gone a little further than we expected by providing four splendid lights in the railway yard, and one over the stock yards.”

A Progressive People.

Mr. J. W. Kime, chairman of the Springs-Ellesmere Power Board, offered his cordial congratulations upon the progressive step taken. That the Dunsandel people were progressive was shown by the fact that very soon after the power district was constituted they asked that the township should be reticulated and that an outer area should be formed so that the current could be taken to a number of farmers living in the Selwyn County portion of the district. That was before a good part of the Board's district had been linked up. He believed that the Dunsandel station was the first in the Board's district to be lighted by electricity.

Council Sets Example.

Mr. John Heslop, chairman of the Ellesmere County Council, humourously suggested that the light the Ellesmere County Council had been responsible for erecting on the street opposite the station had served as a decoy to the Railway Department. He congratulated the Department upon having the station and yards lighted by electricity, and the railway staff upon their very nice flower plots.

A Thorough Job.

Speaking on behalf of the Selwyn County Council, Mr. N. J. Brown apologised for the unavoidable absence of the chairman, Mr. F. J. Andrew. “We all appreciate the very thorough manner in which the Railway Department has done this job,” said the speaker. He recalled the occasion when a large gathering of residents succeeded in impressing upon an ex-Minister of page 30 Railways the need of a new railway station, and he hoped that evening's gathering would cause the Department to recognise the necessity of lighting other stations by electricity. He was hopeful that the day was not far distant when the trains would also be run by electric current. Such a development would have to be seriously considered by the Department in view of the keen competition the railways were meeting from motor transport. Electric trains would result in speeding up. “I am sure the cartage contractors will find the lights in the railway yard a great convenience,” said Mr. Brown in conclusion.

Remarkable Progress.

“It was a very happy thought on the part of whoever was responsible for originating this gathering,” said Mr. D. Jones, M.P. Proceeding to give some very interesting facts relative to electrical development in the Dominion, Mr. Jones said that the first town installation was set in motion at Reefton in 1887, when there were four miles of reticulation. To-day there were ten miles of reticulation at Reefton. Wellington had an electric lighting system in 1888, only six years after the inauguration of the New York electric lighting scheme. Stratford had its system in 1898, Patea in 1901, and in 1904 Christchurch developed electricity at the destructor, used to destroy city refuse. In 1908 Auckland had its supply. These facts tended to show what a recent development electric lighting was. In 1903 the Government recognised what an immense potential factor the water power resources of the Dominion were, and a report prepared by Mr. Hay showed that ample power could be developed to meet the country's needs for many years to come. A few years ago he had had the opportunity of visiting Niagara, where the falls were capable of developing seven million horse-power, more than the whole of the New Zealand sources put together. The greater part of the Niagara Falls belonged to Canada. In 1915 the Lake Coleridge station started to operate with 4,500 horsepower, while its capacity was now 27,000. In 1921 the Springs-Ellesmere Power Board was formed, and only four years ago the Mangahao scheme started, and then came Waikaremoana and Arapuni. It was intended to link up the stations in the North Island, and do likewise in the South Island to ensure continuous supply Within two years the Waitaki scheme would be completed, while the Waipori scheme in Dunedin had been operating for a long time. New Zealand came sixth among the nations of the world in regard to the quantity of electric power developed, and he believed that so far as the use of electricity amongst the rural population was concerned, New Zealand led the world.

Christchurch-Lyttelton Electrification Scheme. View of Woolston Yard shewing the completion of the electrical overhead construction.

Christchurch-Lyttelton Electrification Scheme.
View of Woolston Yard shewing the completion of the electrical overhead construction.

Out to Give Service.

Mr. F. Pawson, the Railway Department's Business Agent, tendered an apology for the absence of Mr. Penn, District Traffic Manager, and expressed pleasure at the opportunity of being present at such a fine gathering. It was a real pleasure to find the farmers and residents of a district generally taking a very live interest in the railways, which, after all, were the property page 31 of the people. All present were well aware of the great changes that had taken place in recent years, and of what the Railway Department, in common with other interests, had had to face.

Wonderful changes had been wrought in the last four or five years. Large numbers of letters had been received expressing appreciation of the changes brought about. He had never worked with a better lot of men in his life. What they had been greatly in need of were opportunities, which they had not had previously. They were now given those opportunities, and to-day the railwaymen were out to do their very best for the users of the railways. They had a fine example of this in the present stationmaster at Dunsandel, who was out to give the very best of service. It was evident that the people of Dunsandel were very appreciative of the efforts of Mr. Breach and his staff when they arranged such a fine function as was being held that evening. It was a most unusual thing to find the people of any district meeting to celebrate anything the Railway Department had done for them. He only wished he could get the residents of other districts to show the same enthusiasm and interest in the railways.

Referring to Mr. H. H. Sterling, the new General Manager, Mr. Pawson said that he was a young, vigorous, progressive man with new ideas. He firmly believed that under Mr. Sterling's able direction the railways would enter upon a new lease of life, and that the public would get the service it was entitled to expect. After giving some figures relating to the business handled at Dunsandel, Mr. Pawson said he hoped the interest the people were taking in the railways would long continue.

Workshops Electrical Equipment. Switch-gear in the Hutt Valley Power Station, Wellington. This switch-gear controls 2,100 k.v.a.

Workshops Electrical Equipment.
Switch-gear in the Hutt Valley Power Station, Wellington. This switch-gear controls 2,100 k.v.a.

At this stage an adjournment was made to the Railway Station, where Miss Pawson, daughter of the Business Agent, formally turned on the current, flooding the station and yards with light. “Auld Lang Syne” having been sung, the people went back to the hall, where the ladies of the district served supper and a dance followed.

On a recent Saturday a picnic party spent the day in the Hutt Valley (says the “Dominion”). One of the party, a lady, left her purse and a book in the train. She was just thinking of going over to the station to make enquiries when a railway official arrived on the picnic ground with the missing articles. Such efficiency as was shown by the official must go a long way in answering the adverse criticism to which the Department is from time to time subjected.

page 32 page 33
Railway Excursionists on the Beautiful Beach at Laekakariki By Providing Cheap Sunday Travel Fares To The “Sunshine Beaches” Of Wellington'S West Coast, The New Zealand Railways Are Helping Thousands Of People To Have Healthful Outings By The Sea.

Railway Excursionists on the Beautiful Beach at Laekakariki
By Providing Cheap Sunday Travel Fares To The “Sunshine Beaches” Of Wellington'S West Coast, The New Zealand Railways Are Helping Thousands Of People To Have Healthful Outings By The Sea.