Thursday, January 22, 2009

False mail arrival reports in Auckland town

We have next to no comprehension in these days of household letterboxes and business post boxes, where mail is delivered for your convenience, just what it meant to get mail and the latest news from Home in the mid-Victorian era here in the colonies. It was a Big Thing, and of utmost importance for folk to be to be right there at the wharves when the mail ship came in, or joining the patient queues at the post office as the mail was doled out.

Little wonder some became a tad narky over the instances in the article below. This from the NZ Herald, 16 April 1875:
"An announcement appeared yesterday that the Naval Brigade would hold a garrison gun drill at the albert Barracks this evening. It would appear by the report of artillery last evening that the practice took place prematurely. This is not the first time that the Volunteers have played a trick upon the Auckland public in deceiving them regarding the arrival of the mail steamer. On the last occasion of a "garrison gun drill" the time was chosen when the mail steamer was due, and consequently on the report of the first gun everybody was under the impression that she had arrived in harbour.

"Cabs deserted the ranks for the wharf, and citizens wended their way thitherwards also, while the newspaper offices were shortly after beseiged for the latest news," until the repeated discharge of artillery convinced people that they had been hoaxed.

"The same thing occurred last evening, the Cyphrenes being due. The guns on the Albert Barrack reserve were fired at long intervals, giving persons the impression that she had arrived. Numbers vacated the theatres in consequence, and many whose business called them left their homes for the wharf in consequence of this false report. If the Volunteers have not the sense or good judgement to fire off these useless old guns on more appropriate occasions, the authorities should step in and prevent them in a very practical manner, namely, by refusing to serve out the Government ammunition, which is so uselessly and mischievously expended."

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