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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 1, Issue 6, March 1964

"By Some Mischance"

"By Some Mischance"

By some mischance, the sailing of the ship with Brogden's party on board, was delayed, and during this period, word was received in London of the impending arrival of Mr. Vogel, New Zealand's page 4Minister of Public Works, whose declared intention it was to borrow many millions to implement his great public works policy. Under legislation just enacted by Parliament, Mr. Vogel had power to approve or disprove of the Nelson-Cobden land grant railway project. Mr. Vogel had no Public Works Department engineers to advise him. Vogel's sole figures as to railway costs were those based on the Morrison-Fitzgibbon-Fox discussion of 1869 (see Hansard Vol. 7, pages 574, 575, 1870, and the Fitzgibbon Survey and estimate of the projected Nelson-Foxhill line (see Hansard Vol. 9, 1870, pages 543–546.)

On his arrival in London, Mr. Vogel immediately contacted Messrs. Brogden & Sons, the Nelson contractors, and offered them contracts to build trunk railways throughout New Zealand. Said the Vogel report, presented to Parliament in September, 1871: "During the whole of my stay, I was actively engaged in negotiations with Messrs. John Brogden & Sons, respecting the construction of railways in New Zealand." (9 and 10.)

The wide investigation and fact-finding work done by the Nelson Provincial Council's engineers was utilised by Vogel as a basis of costs for his public works policy throughout New Zealand. Brogden duly arrived in New Zealand on July 20, 1872, and commenced on the Picton-Blenheim line. (11.) Mr. John Blackett, Nelson's provincial engineer, was lost to Nelson, being appointed by Mr. Vogel to be acting engineer-in-chief.