5 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

27. The first Lincoln

27. The first Lincoln Railway Station in 1908. Charles Isles - Stationmaster, Alfred Currie - Porter, Charles White - Cadet, Alex Currie – Cadet. 28. The enlarged Lincoln Railway Station c.1950. Courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library – Ref. F18084. 80

The line to Southbridge was officially opened on 13 July 1875. A special train carrying guests, including the Superintendent and the Executive Council, left Christchurch at 10.30 am and arrived in Southbridge for the celebration at 1 pm! There was no formal welcome when the train arrived, but it and its passengers were greeted by a cheering crowd. Southbridge was in festive mood. Flags and flowers decorated the town, school children were given a free ride to Leeston and back, there was a bazaar in the town hall to raise funds for a church organ, and lunch, presided over by Mr. J.E. Lee, chairman of the celebration committee, was held in the railway goods shed for about 400 guests. After the meal the chairman thanked all those who had contributed to the project and numerous toasts were drunk in honour of the Queen, and to those who in one way or another had helped bring the project to a successful conclusion. It is interesting to note that during the speeches there were frequent references to the proposed abolition of the provincial system of government which many thought would die hard in Canterbury. Finally, the celebrations over, the visitors returned to Christchurch on the 4.15 pm train. 18 The Southbridge terminal included a large goods shed, a locomotive depot, and private sidings for stock and station agents’ yards and was considerably larger than the Lincoln station. At Lincoln the post office was incorporated in the station building and the positions of stationmaster and postmaster were held by the same man. This individual was Mr. J. Frame, whose dual position carried an annual salary of 154 pounds. The stationmaster’s salary was 142 pounds whilst that of the postmaster was worth no more than 12 pounds per annum, perhaps an indication of the volume of mail handled by the post office at the time. Once the line was open the mail was carried by rail, allowing for a later closing time than was possible when J.J. Herrick’s coaches were the only means of transport 19 . Then the twice weekly service left Lincoln at 7.45 am to reach the White Hart Hotel in Christchurch at 3.30 pm. Of course, the line was not perfect. From the beginning there were complaints that the train was too slow and in 1899 the Ellesmere Guardian drew attention to the problem 20 when it noted that it took over two hours to travel 30 miles and that a passenger on the Southbridge train said that he saw riders, vehicles and bicycles pass him at all points along the way. However, the speed was not so much a function of the line weight or power of the locomotive, but a consequence of the short distance, generally about two miles, between stations which meant that there was no time to build up speed before the engine had to slow for the next stop. A passenger also wrote 81

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