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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 4 (July 1, 1937)

Service With Wheels On

page 54

Service With Wheels On

A Monument to Motion.

There it is, sirs, artistically Acropolistic, soaringly sublime, impressively imperial as befits the home of the Monarch of Transport. In pillared passivity, in colonnaded contemplation, in symbolic simplicity, it stands to serve. With dignified demeanour, with an air of aristocratic assurance it combines asceticism with realism, sublimity with utility—Our Station!

Wellington has waited and the waiting has been long but—bless our bodies and bogeys!—this palatial pile transcends Hope, confounds Anticipation and proves the point that “Everything comes to him who waits”—and how! Here are the glamorous portals to Romance—the romance of the rail. All ye who enter here are transported, first to the anteroom of Anticipation, then on the road to Romance.

This monument to Motion is both a station and an inspiration. No longer will we speed the parting guest with an air of apologetic affection for our old and trusty wooden termini. Instead we will strut and bear ourselves with pardonable pride in the edifying edifice that stands as a symbol to the iron wheel. Progress, yes, is its sponsor, but where would Progress be without the wheel?

A Word on Wheels.

Wheels are the foundation of our station; wheels provide Progress with the means of moving. First came heels, then came wheels to convert the march of Progress to a gallop. Train wheels, motor whee1s, fly-wheels, pulley wheels, cog-wheels, wheels on wheels, wheels within wheels! Wheels are whirling life on to its ultimate justification—where and whatever that may be. The wheel was as inevitable as death. It is a natural phenomenon rather than an invention. It is probable that it never was “discovered” but just came into being as naturally as a mountain or a chilblain. There are some who attribute its existence to ancient Oriental ingenuity; but too much has already been credited to China's inscrutability. Indubitably, a people ingenious enough to conceive a bird's nest pie, a language that is more like a cry of anguish than a means of communication, and an alphabet that looks like a teething rash, is capable of anything. Compared with China's devious divinations the wheel would be simple, far too simple. No, sir, the Chinese mentality was too intrinsically intricate to get down to such a basic whirligig as the wheel. China's wheel would have been shaped
The Modern Mercury

The Modern Mercury

like a swastika or a grand piano or a bunch of bananas. It would never have carried a train or ground out a sausage or turned a mangle.

A Wheel-less World.

Come to think of it, what a queer, silent, slothful place would be a wheel-less world. Everything would move in a “scissors” or “pendulum” fashion instead of on celeritous circles. Everything would bump and bound instead of slide with oleaginous ease. There would be no wheelbarrows to push, no watches to wind, no motors to dodge, no trams, no trains, and—this is a thought for married men—no lawn-mowers or garden rollers to bullock over the greensward o’ Saturd'ys. From the material viewpoint the wheel probably has been the most significant fact in Man's sorry scheme since the page 55 first barbarian singed his whiskers over the first fire. Truly, the wheel is the heart that beats in the bodies industrial, social and economic; the wheels of industry are cogged, the social wheels are ballooned, the economic wheels are milled. Day and night a million billion wheels beat and pound the earth, transporting, pursuing, servicing the little wheel-less wonder who designed them—Man. For the greatest and most intricate of all mechanisms hasn't a wheel in his interior. Yet he is The Little Wonder, the Modern Mercury, who has enslaved the wheel to do his bidding. And what has the wheel done to him? We wonder!

Time's Cavalcade.

And so we say that our new railway station stands as a splendid monument to the might and glory of The Wheel. It might, with justice, be dedicated to the power of the flanged winged wheel. It is fitting here to quote the words of Bill E. Spokeshave, the wheel-right rhymster.

Here's to the wheel
That has brought us far,
Through ages and ages till—Here we are;
The old wagon-wheel
That crunched and growled,
The ox-cart wheel
All mud-befouled,
The post-chaise wheel
That rattled and sped,
The wheel of the coach
That lumbered ahead.
The old mill-wheel
With its mumble-rumble,
The paddle-boat wheel
With its puff-and-grumble,
The thin high wheel
Of the early bike—
The “penny-farthing,”
The ancient “trike,”
They sped us along
Till here we are
With the wheel of the train
And the motor car.

“Stepping On It.”

“Stepping On It.”

The singing wheel
Of the speeding train
With a hundred tunes
To beat on the brain,
Cantata and chorus
And rousing song,
That sings with the rails
As it speeds along.
A rat-a-tat-tat
Over stops and joints,
A clippy-clop-clop
When it meets the points,
A slow measured beat
When it takes the grade,
And a tally-ho-ho
When the pull is made;
The stout steel wheel
With the velvet grip
That cries hop-along
And trippetty-trip.
Here's to the wheel
That soothes the brain—
The friendly wheel
Of the railway train.

Gone But Not Forgotten.

Its home may be new but it will still sing the old old song. And here a word for old friends! We doff the bowler to our new glamorous station but we cannot forget our old associates, the brothers Lambton and Thorndon. Soon they will be gone but, for nearly half a century, they have been friendly old scouts. When we were young their smoky facades spelled romance, freedom, glamour. Their walls shook with our clamour when we gathered under the eagle eye of a whiskered Sunday school superintendent to frisk in sylvan glades, to speed the parting bun and drink deep of debilitated lemonade. The old walls smiled benignly when we poured back, dishevelled, begrimed, bedevilled with a surfeit of bun, and divinely out-of-hand.

Later on, as we grew to the age of disillusion the same old walls received us in sorrow and in joy, in meetings and in partings. They were still benign, they were always friendly, and somewhow they always spelled Escape.

In years to come we will sit in the inglenook and try to tell our greatgrandchildren all about it. But nobody will ever listen to us. Still, we can remember old friends.