Saturday, October 31, 2009

Taihape Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack on the Main Trunk Line!

On 19 October 2009, KiwiRail announced that Taihape was being placed back on the list of stops on the Overlander passenger train's schedule on the North Island Main Trunk Line.

Removed from scheduled stops in 2005 as passenger numbers on the Overlander fell, Taihape is back for a one-year trial.

North- and southbound trains will stop for a 2 minute spell.

If you want a cuppa you'll have to be quick. Maybe text ahead to one of the cafes and see if they'll meet you on the platform!

Seriously, though, get off the train for a day or two and experience Taihape. Accommodation has been upgraded from the barky hut pictured in the post below.

Disclaimer: The Taihape Tourist Board and this blogger have no financial or other relationship.

Taihape on the Main Trunk Line #3

Reid Family outside home. George Edward Reid, Annie Reid, and children Myrtle and George, alongside a hut on Toe Toe Road, Taihape, circa 1897. Punga fern trunks supply the walls of the hut with shingled roof. Clearing timber around the homestead. 
Photo: Edward George Child.  Alexander Turnbull Library.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Taihape on the Main Trunk Line #2

 Main or Hautapu Street?, Taihape, 1907-08, about the time the North Island Main Trunk line 
was completed. Photo: Frederick George Radcliffe. Alexander Turnbull Library.

Jackson and McCormick's general store, Taihape, circa 1900, fashioned out of corrugated iron.
Photo: Unidentified photographer. Alexander Turnbull Library

H J Boughton's General Store with Model T Ford out front, Taihape, circa early 1920s.
Unidentified photographer. Alexander Turnbull Library.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taihape on the Main Trunk Line #1

 Taihape Railway Station with Refreshment Rooms on right, 
North Island Main Trunk Line, circa 1910.
Photo:  Frederick George Radcliffe. Alexander Turnbull Library

R T Batley's Wool Wagon on its way to the railhead, Taihape, circa 1910. McCormick Boot Emporium and Wong You's fruit and grocery store in background. Unidentified photographer. Alexander Turnbull Library

Rail Yards at Taihape, circa 1925, signal box in left foreground 
and stockyards to the right of tracks.Unidentified photographer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line

Timespanner had this video on her blog recently. Just had to add it here. Peter Cape's song "Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line" provides the soundtrack to the video. Taumarunui in the King Country was a key town on the North Island main trunk railway line between Wellington and Auckland. Just past Taumarunui is the Raurimu Spiral, an engineering feat enabling trains to haul freight up otherwise insurmountable grades. You can see a model of the spiral in the video.

If you want to sing along with Peter, you can find the lyrics here, with a bit more background.

Though not of the Taumarunui refreshments room, here are a couple of interior shots of what the traveling public encountered in 1910 and 1952 when their trains made a stop for a sandwich and a cuppa. Click on images for a larger view.

 Interior of the Tearooms at Wanganui Railway Station, circa 1910. 
Photo: Tesla Studio. Alexander Turnbull Library

The counter at the Christchurch Railway Station Refreshment Rooms, 
7:30 am, 21 July 1952. Evening Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zealandia Cycle Works - Oates & Lowry Co, Christchurch - Cycling Craze #20

Zealandia Cycle, Hawke's Bay Hearld ad, 2 January 1895.

Oates, Lowry and Co's Zealandia Cycle Works, 82 Manchester Street, Christchurch, circa 1900.
Cyclopedia of New Zealand - Canterbury, 1903, p. 315.

Nicholas Oates, senior partner of the firm of Oate, Lowry, and Co., established the business in 1880 with the firm's Zealandia Cycle Works becoming one of the first cycle manufacturers in New Zealand. Alexander Lowry joined the partnership in 1897.

Cyclopedia of New Zealand - Canterbury

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand reported in 1903 that the business located at 82 Manchester Street in Christchurch was housed in a large two storey building. The retail store, the Cyclopedia stated, consists of a "large double-fronted shop, with handsome plate-glass windows, displaying a varied stock of bicycles. Behind are the offices, and at the back is the factory, which is thoroughly equipped with all necessary plant and machinery, and is claimed to be the largest in the Colony."

The firm produced its own Zealandia and Atalanta brand bicycles. "[E]verything connected with cycles, except chains, hubs, saddles, pedals, and rims, is made on the premises; the tubing, rough castings, and wrought iron-work are imported, and turned, finished, and plated on the premises."

Between 30 and 40 workers were employed in cycle manufacturing in Christchurch, while repair facilities were operated out of premises in Timaru, Ashburton and Napier. In 1901, a retail store run by Oates, Lowry was operating in Cuba Street, Wellington and other sales outlets were run on an agency basis throughout the country. For example, F W Ansley's Zealandia Cycle Deport sold Zealandia and Atalanta cycles from his premises in Ridgway Street in Wanganui in 1900.

Oates, Lowry and Co was also the first to import a petrol-driven motor car into the Australasian colonies. No date is given for this event.

Ellesmere Guardian ad, 15 December 1897.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Speedy Cycle Works, Retail Store, Christchurch, early 1900s - Cycling Craze #19

Jack Suckling's Speed Cycle Works located at 114 Manchester Street, Christchurch, circa 1912-14. Jack is the moustached man wearing a cap and watch chain at centre right just a fraction behind the row of cyclists. A number of the "scorchers" (cyclists) are in their racing gear, perhaps for a day's track racing at Lancaster Park or for road racing. Photo: Adam McLay. Alexander Turnbull Library. Click on image for larger view.

Jack Suckling was an integral part of the Christchurch "cycling craze" in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. He ran a retail store at several different locations around the central city in the early 1900s, operating at the corner of Kilmore  and Barbadoes Streets in 1906 but by 1909 had relocated to 256 Oxford Terrace east. By the time the above photo was taken his business had moved to 114 Manchester Street, a street along with High Street, that had become popular among cycle businesses as a retail location.

Jack promoted his Speedy cycles to the young men known as "scorchers", the competitive racing cyclists who lived for either the track races at Lancaster Park and out in the small towns around Canterbury or for the road races across the province. Good money was to be made from winning racing prizes to pay back the price of a cycle, so Jack suggested in his advertising, and he'd make a few bob in the process.

Christchurch Star ad, 27 January, 1906

Christchurch Star ad, 6 October 1906

Christchurch Star ad, 26 December, 1908.

So why don't you give Jack a call at Christchurch 2574? Don't be surprised if you get a busy signal.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cycle Store Interior, Christchurch 1910 - Cycling Craze #18

Unidentified Cycle Store Interior, Christchurch, 1910, photo Steffano Webb.

During the cycling craze of the late 1890s and early 1900s, cycle works and retail stores mushroomed in Christchurch as the public embraced the idea of personal transport that did not require catching, harnessing, grooming, feeding and cleaning-up after the "beast". While the horse-drawn tram was giving way to the electric tram, the car was only beginning to make an appearance from around 1900 and was financially out of the reach of the average household. The bicycle could improve one's health and provided greater convenience and flexibility in terms of getting where the rider wanted to go directly rather than be limited by the tram tracks. Of course, in inclement weather, the bicycle presented its own challenges.

The store pictured above is not identified and could be one of several selling the popular BSA brand cycles displayed. Advertising on the walls include items such as Taylor Tyres, Palmer Tyres for Motor Cars, and one for National Cash Register behind the sales counter.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nairn & Sons, Florists & Nurserymen, Christchurch, circa 1900s

 Nairn & Sons, Plant Catalogue cover, 1901-02.

The firm of Nairn & Sons, located in Lincoln Road, Christchurch provided nursey plants and seeds not only to the Christchurch area but also nationally through its plant catalogue advertising in the early 1900s.

As early as the 1870s Mr D Nairn was an active member of the Christchurch Horticultural Society and a competitor in the Societ's floral competitions in which he and his teenage son, Robert were frequent prize winners. 

During the Jubilee Exhibition of 1900  Nairn and Sons provided large exhibition displays, a practice they continued at Horticultural Society shows during the subsequent decade.

Nairn & Sons, Plant Catalogue cover, 1904-05. 

Nairn & Sons, Plant Catalogue, page advertising Clematis varieties, 1906 Catalogue

Nairn & Sons, Plant Catalogue, page advertising Lilium odorum Japonicum. Syn. Browni, 1906 Catalogue

Nairn & Sons, Plant Catalogue, page advertising Romneyia tricocalyx, 1906 Catalogue

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The City Boot Palace, Shoe Store, Christchurch, circa 1900

The City Boot Palace, 1910. Photo Steffano Webb. Alexander Turnbull Library

You can almost smell the leather in this store interior of the City Boot Palace located at 111 Colombo Street at the corner of Lichfield St.

A cut-price seller of boots and shoes, the City Boot Palace pitched its sales to the buyer of Half Guinea boots during the first decade of the twentieth century.

Christchurch Star ad, 11 September 1907.

An identically named City Boot Palace was trading in Dunedin at 75 George Street - at the corner of George & St Andrew Streets - from 1883. In the early 1900s, that store was owned by Joseph McKay while the City Palace in Christchurch was operated by a Mr Stock as seen in the above ad. Whether the stores operated as part of a chain under common ownership or were independently owned is yet to be established.

Somewhat disturbingly, Kuaka recalls an uncle working in the mid 1960s at a similar-looking shoe store located, from memory, in Cashel Street that had similar furnishings down to the detail of the footstools. The merchandise, however, had turned over thanks to demand and the dictates of fashion.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where The Godwits Fly - Robin Hyde on Kuaka

Robin Hyde

New Zealand novelist, journalist, and poet, Robin Hyde, (1906-1939) is currently featured as Kiwi of the Week on New Zealand History On-Line. Her short, tragic but creative life speaks of a time when society was more unforgiving of the independent woman blazing her own trail away from the prevailing social conventions. Robin Hyde was the name of her dead infant son, born out of wedlock, that Iris Wilkinson kept alive and immortalized by using as her pseudonym for her serious writing.

In the foreword to her novel, The Godwits Fly, (1938), Hyde casts the godwit (kuaka) as a metaphor for the migratory New Zealanders who left their home shores driven by some urge to explore the world, in her day to "return" to Mother England, today to become a part of a more dispersed Kiwi diaspora. Names in bracketed italics have been added by this blogger  to identify notable New Zealanders who left the country to live abroad. The full text of The Godwits Fly is available at the very useful The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.

To those of us kuaka, it bears a message. More on the feathered godwit kuaka here.

Author's Foreword - Concerning Godwits

"But many people do not know what a godwit is. And the dictionary says sourly, a kind of marsh bird. Of the immense northerly migrations that yearly in New Zealand, when summer is gone, shake wings into the sky as if from a giant's salt-pot, nothing is told. But this is true: every year, from sandy hollows in the north of the northernmost of those three islands, the godwits set out on a migration beside which the swallow's blue hither and yon is a mere stroll with wings.

And it is true, too, that the godwits, flying north, never go near England. They fly to Siberia. But to a child in this book, it was all more simple. A long way was a long way. North was mostly England, or a detour to England.

Later she thought, most of us here are human godwits; our north is mostly England. Our youth, our best, our intelligent, brave and beautiful, must make the long migration, under a compulsion they hardly understand; or else be dissatisfied all their lives long. They are the godwits. The light bones of the mother knew it before the chick was hatched from the eggshell.

England is very beautiful, she thought, staring at a tree whose hair … not properly flowers… was the colour of fire. And this also is very beautiful.

‘Where is Mowbray? Where is Mortimer?’ whisper the old leaves of their history. ‘Nay, and more than all these, where is Plantagenet?’ But ours, darker, might cry, ‘Where is [Bishop] Selwyn? Where is [Ernest] Rutherford? Where is Katherine [Mansfield], with weeds on her grave at Fontainebleau, when what she really wanted was the dark berry along our creeks? (Don't you remember? We call them Dead Man's Bread.) Nay, and more than all these, where are our nameless, the beautiful and intelligent who went away and died, in wars and otherwise, the beautiful and intelligent who went away and hopelessly failed, or came back and were never themselves any more?’

Passing judgments on any circumstance, compulsion, fate, is no use at all, she thought. England is beautiful: this also is beautiful. They are the godwits. Still, I think it odd, because I know this country.  Think not without a bitter price.… That's for the easy brittle plough, that wants our hills.

We are old and can wait, said the untamed soil against which she pressed her fingers; although it, more than anything else, was awake and aware of its need to be a country… the integration of a country from the looseness of a soil. Maybe, responded the girl; though logically, living or dead, they ought to have the same compulsion to come back… the godwits, I mean. And, of course, there's something fine, a King of the Castle feeling, about having the place almost to oneself. Fine but lonely.…

Only fools, said the sparse-ribbed rock, are ever lonely."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Better Britain - Cultural Cringe in New Zealand Schooling in the 1930s

As a British settler colony, New Zealand and New Zealanders sought to build a new, better Britain but were inextricably bound to "Mother England" as her farm and by blood ties. But this social conditioning, accentuated in the teaching of young New Zealanders in their schools was a process of denial: denial of their new land, denial of the Maori who they now shared this land with; and denial of their evolving roles as South Pacific Islanders. The result was a form of social schizophrenia and a cultural cringe. Novelist Robin Hyde summed up the situation nicely in 1938. 

From Robin Hyde's The Godwits Fly, chapter three, Bird of My Native Land:

"Sometimes in class Mr Bellew talked about the godwits, who fly every year from the top part of the North Island to Siberia, thousands of miles without a stop. They fly north, they fly north.… They lined a dell one night with secret olive wings, and next morning were gone. Mr Bellew said, with melancholy satisfaction, ‘And the eye of white man has never looked upon their flight.’

Something there had been, something delicate, wild and far away. But it was shut out behind the doors of yesterday, lost beyond the hills, and sticking a dead twig of it into a hole in the playground, or a rotten poem in the school journal, only made it sickly and unreal. You didn't really have to think about it—Maoris, godwits, bird-of-mynative-land. Attending to it at all was a duty call to a sick-bed. History began slap-bang in England. ‘At the Battle of Hastings, in 1066, William of Normandy defeated King Harold.’ A picture showed King Harold very angry and frightened because William had tricked him into taking an oath on the bones of the Saints. You were sorry for him and didn't want him to be beaten, but of course he was; especially you wished the arrow had hit him anywhere but in the eye. Normans in England said ‘Bœuf’ and ‘Mouton’ at first and the old Saxon tongue struggled and died out, till nobody understood it, any more than people here understood Maori.… You had to know that much, or you failed in your examination.

You were English and not English. It took time to realize that England was far away. And you were brought up on bluebells and primroses and daffodils and robins in the snow—even the Christmas cards were always robins in the snow. One day, with a little shock of anger, you realized that there were no robins and no snow, and you felt cheated; nothing else was quite as pretty. The tall sorrel heads of the dock-plants were raggedy under your hands, and the bush of daisies with brown centres stuck out from under the bedroom window, its roots somehow twisted into the asphalt of Calver Street."

Full text available at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.

Frighteningly, this "being English, yet not being English" message persisted in the New Zealand school system well into the late 1960s, if not beyond, given this blogger's experience as a school pupil in that era. Thankfully, some progress has been made in the last couple of decades in developing a stronger emphasis on New Zealand's own culture, politics, history, and science in its educational institutions.

But the jury must still be out for some years to come on the success or otherwise of this process, especially in an era where a narrow policy objective of commercialism is used to drive the educational system at all levels. One god may simply have replaced another.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Universal Boot Depot, High Street, Christchurch Store, circa 1900s

The Universal Boot Depot, 221 High Street, Christchurch, circa 1900.
(click images for larger view) 

D. Smith & Sons' Universal Boot Depot  was located opposite Strange's Department store on the corner of High and Lichfield Streets in Christchurch. The company offered cut-rate prices on its footwear, frequently advertising sales liquidating large shipments of inventory from the United Kingdom and from business liquidations around New Zealand.

In the street frontage view above, pairs of boots and shoes can be seen hanging in strings along the store front.

Announcement of the Universal's Opening, 1891.

An 1887 sale

Friday, October 9, 2009

They're The Topps

Lynda & Jools show how it's done at the A & P show:

The Cast of Characters: The Many Faces of the Topp Twins

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why Can't Larry the Lamb & Other Air NZ Cup Rugby Sports Mascots Get Along?

Larry the Lamb, mascot for the Red & Blacks - Canterbury - forms a rolling maul with the competition until someone illegally drags it down. Full arm penalty, I think. Followed by a free-for- all, leading to a collective sin binning. Turbo Man seems to be, ah, winded. Larry looks, well, sheepish then decides to take it outside chasing Auckland's Seagull, presumably to pluck a few feathers out of that sorry bird's tail. A bit like how the real competition is going.

Just as well the pedantic rugby ref, Mr Lawrence, isn't on the scene or they'd all get red-carded.

Show us the love, indeed.

The song is "Why Does Love Do This To Me?" by The Exponents, a Christchurch band. The song is a favourite of rugby crowds, especially at Rugby Sevens competitions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

E Reece & Sons, Hardware Store, Colombo St, Christchurch early 1900s

Ground floor Retail Showroom of E Reece & Sons, circa 1900.
click images for larger image view.

Established in 1856 by Edward Reece, who had arrived in Christchurch the previous year, the firm of E Reece & Sons as it became served the residents of the city for many decades. Edward sent his son William to England for his education and upon his return in 1879, William was given management of the firm by his father. Upon Edward's death in 1887, ownership was shared by William and his brother C S Reece. William took sole ownership of the firm in 1892 upon his brother's retirement. He served as the Mayor of Christchurch in 1900, the city's Jubilee year.

The original premises, an old wooden building with three foot gables was demolished in 1870 to be replaced on the same site on Colombo Street by a three storey brick building designed to house both the wholesale and retail operations of the business.

Reece & Sons frontage on Colombo St, Christchurch in the 1890s
Cyclopedia of New Zealand

In the early 1900s, the ground floor was occupied by the retail showroom, extending some 150 feet back from the entrance, where a wide range of items were on display, including sterling silver and electro plated ware, fancy goods, cutlery, toilet and general brushware, lamps, filters, general furnishing ironmongery of all descriptions, cricket, tennis, and croquet tools, Milner's safes, brass foundry, bicycles and bicycle sundries, all kinds of fencing material, lawnmowers, farm and garden tools.

Reece's also took pride in offering a comprehensive line of guns and ammunition:

Reece & Sons ad
The Star, 10 June 1905

On the second floor, a further showroom held register fire-grates, hearths, mantels, and overmantels for all price ranges, while the third floor held reserve stocks of lamps and tinware. In the basement, Reece's stock of lubricating oils was stored.

Wholesale operations were housed in an adjoining three storey building located on Lichfield Street.