Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hong King's double-deck trams

In a departure from the usual theme for Timespanner -- New Zealand stuff -- here are some photos of Hong Kong's double-deck tramcars from Bryan Blanchard. Hong Kong Tramways boast that they have the world's largest fleet of double-deck trams (check out the museum pages at the link for historic images and info). If I ever went to HK, and saw them -- I'd be entranced for hours. (I'm bad enough watching Melbourne's trams outside their central library!)

Bryan's email:

Lisa, here as promised - some of the many photos I took in Hong Kong, our first time there - these were taken on 3-7-2009. Have put some on there 4 wheel trams that go back to the early 1900s & have a fleet of about 160. Cheap to ride on.  Have included a couple of street scenes of the buildings, they use bamboo for scaffolding and there is heaps of it used, even way up high on the sky scrapers. Weather is very hot & humid when we were there, and were told in 2 months time even hotter.

Kiwi the Engine's day out - Easter 2010


More photos from Bryan Blanchard, of the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway. Text and captions come from his email.

"Kiwi the Engine & Friends - last Easter

"We thought up this and now run it as the New Thomas franchise owners made it too tough for groups in NZ & overseas to run it - this has proved very successful for us, now this Easter will be the 3rd time we will run it.

"Our steam engine used is a 1878, class =  D 16, built in Glasgow and one of New Zealand's first steam engines - they used it to round 1912 and sold it. It was used by the Pukeuri Freezing works, north of Oamaru, till the mid 1960s round there yard & then was replaced by a diesel locomotive. The D was mounted on a concrete block in their yard, and started to slowly rust away - but that is another story

"Hope of interest - Bryan."

Above and below: D 16, at Pleasant Point Station ( the historic Catholic Church in the back ground )

Above: Loco crew talk with visitors.

Above: The Silly Old Station Master = Rev. Mike Kerr - wanders round our site, keeping a eye on his watch to make sure everything runs on time ( he replaces The Fat Controller, as in Thomas). 

Above: Station Master, Alf Dowell, waiting to allow the train to depart.

Above: D 16 at Keanes Crossing.

Above: Kiwi greeting customers as they arrive at our site.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Karaka Creek wedding, 1896

Barbara Harvey, whom I meet through events put on by Friends of Waikumete Cemetery, told me of a wonderful find she made at Huapai: a white (yes, the buff colour here is just the colour of the paper Barbara very kindly scanned the invitation onto, then sent it to me in the mail) invitation, delicate and oh so old (1896) to a wedding which occurred between Ethel Margaret Redwood and Harry Ashby.

When she told me about it -- and that she had found the following news item about the wedding festivities in Papers Past, I'd thought the ceremonies had been held in Karaka, South Auckland, and that the Thames Star (24 July 1896) simply picked it up as news.

A pretty wedding took place yesterday afternoon, when Miss Ethel Redwood, second daughter of Mr John Redwood of the Karaka, was united in the holy bonds of matrimony to Mr Harry Ashby, eldest son of Mr Wm. Ashby, of Bella street. The marriage took place at the residence of the bride's parents, the Rev. J. Mackenzie, M.A., officiating. The bride was given away by her father, and looked charming in a pretty cream costume, with silk and lace trimming; and orange blossoms. She also carried a beautiful bouquet made by Miss Ashby. Of the bridesmaids, Miss Grace Redwood and Miss Ethel Ashby looked excellent in maroon serge dresses with white silk sashes ; Miss Jessie Hutchison in cream cashmere and pale pink trimming ; and Miss Ethel Morris pale blue cashmere with blue, trimmed with ribbon. Mr Wm. Ashby officiated as groomsman. After the ceremony the bridal party sat down to a splendid wedding breakfast prepared by Mrs Redwood, mother of the bride. The presents were both numerous and valuable, showing the esteem in which the young couple were held. In the evening a party in celebration of the marriage was held in the Protestant Alliance Hall, about 50 couples being present. Mr A. Billing provided the refreshments to perfection. Songs and dances were indulged in, the dance music being supplied by J. Donnelly (violin) and R. Eastings (piano). Dancing was continued into the early hours, Mr Jas. Dare officiating as M.C.
But I suspect that the Ashbys were a Karaka Creek family, living in the vicinity of Thames. William Ashby is reported to have died at his son Harry's home in Karaka Creek, October 1910, to be buried at Shortland. (also Thames Star).

How the invitation ended up all the way in Huapai is anyone's guess. Thank you, Barbara, for letting me share your wonderful find with the readers!

Update 28 April 2011: Info from Lew Redwood (see below also) re the Redwood-Bray connection.

LINZ release of aerial imagery of Christchurch

For those interested in another look at what has been wrought in Christchurch: Land Information New Zealand has released aerial imagery (links here) of Christchurch post-quake. 

The part I went looking for first was Coker's Hotel on Manchester Street (dating from 1879). It's a backpackers now, and that's where I stayed in 2007 for a couple of nights.

Now, it is in a sad state, going by the aerial. It was already closed after the September 2010 quake.

Image: Land Information NZ, Crown Copyright

Memorial Gates, Auckland Normal Intermediate School, Epsom

Back in 2004, with my first digicam (3mp, still got it), I took photos of the gates at the end of Poronui Street in  Epsom, just along from the Mt Eden village shops. Yesterday, when asked by Bruce Comfort from down south in Oamaru if I'd take some photos for him (for submission to the war memorials site at, I said no problems -- then found the old images. So thanks, Bruce, for helping me resurrect them!

"These gates stand in proud memory of teachers of this province who in the hour of national danger took their place in the front line of battle and in the end yielded their lives for the land and people they loved."

The gates and pillars were constructed in 1932, likely designed by the Auckland Education Board's architect at the time, A B Miller. When they were built, this was the Auckland Teacher's Training College grounds (Auckland College of Education), so a memorial to teachers among the war dead of World War I who would have been past students since the college's establishment in 1881 (the Mt Eden/Epsom site was started in 1926) was even more appropriate here. Being erected in 1932, the pillars were said to have been worked by unemployed stone masons, as part of the Depression-era work schemes. Funding for the memorial came primarily from members of the Auckland branch of the NZEI, with assistance from a special government grant.

Auckland Normal Intermediate School opened on the grounds in February 1945, after the government agreed to upgrade the existing primary school facilities on the site to a full intermediate school, linked with the teachers' training college, according to The History of Epsom (2006).

The Kingston Flyer for sale

Bryan Blanchard sent through an email a few hours ago regarding the Kingston Flyer and the listing on TradeMe of the mortgagee auction sale of the train and associated properties. I supposed it had to come to this.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three more from Pleasant Point

 All photos and captions by Bryan Blanchard, Pleasant Point Museum & Railway.

Ford Model T rail car, RM 4. Replica built up from the original NZR plans - 2 were built by NZ railways in 1925, ran for a few years on 2 Southland branch lines, replacing passenger trains, not successful and were scrapped by 1931.

Above and below:  Tr 18, towing D 16,  steam locomotive & carriages.

Just a note: I've also added ten more photos by Bryan to the Christchurch Trams post.

A little brick story

When I gave my talk on Albert Crum's brickworks earlier this month before the West Auckland Historical Society, Ben Copedo came up to me later and asked about the reference I made in the talk to Ralph Crum, of the Ashburton Brickworks, and the miniature bricks he made late last century. Could they be connected to the L Adams miniature brick Ben had created a display for at Mill Cottage, HQ for WAHS?

The answer, after a bit of comparing notes and newspaper articles with Ben, is yes.

The L Adams bricks are tiny. Just how tiny can be seen from the next photo.

The story behind them goes like this.

Luke Adams (1838-1918) arrived in Christchurch in 1873, initially working for William Neighbours at that brickworks, then worked for Austin, Kirk and Company as a potter from 1875. In 1881, when that company ceased their pottery operation, Adams set up business in Carlyle Street, later moving to Colombo Street in Sydenham, starting an 84-year success story for his family in the trade.

Images of the Luke Adams pottery works, Sydenham. Courtesy Trevor Pollard, WAHS.

According to the Ashburton Guardian (6 July 1985), Percival Adams, one of the sons, came up with an idea in 1893 of creating a brick pressing machine (for full-size bricks). To test his idea, he constructed a wooden miniature model of the machine, and showed that his idea could work. But the model remained miniature, and Percival went along another tack -- mass-producing miniature toy bricks under the brand "Kiddibrick". In the days before such things as Lego, this was a hit amongst children in the city.

The manufacture of Kiddibricks was automated in 1958, with millions being produced over the next seven years. The last of the Adams family, Bert, retired in 1965, and the entire business, including the Kiddibrick side, was sold to Crown Lynn.

Bert Adams later bought the Kiddibrick machinery back from Crown Lynn, but had no place to store it. Then Ralph Crum, relation to New Lynn's Albert Crum and the last of the Crums who operated the Ashburton Brickyard, came into the picture. The Kiddibricks machine was stored at the Crum family brick kiln, until Bert Adams died. Ralph Crum bought the machine from the family estate, on the condition that all bricks produced bore the stamp "L Adams" in the frog. A new stamp was made, the old one having deteriorated in storage, and Ralph Crum set about making his miniature bricks, selling packs of 200 under the name "Little Bricks", complete with building ideas, a cardboard roof, and a chimney.

The clay for the bricks was dug from nearby to Crum's home. It was then dried, crushed, sieved, then the moisture content was brought back up to the correct level before pressing. The Adams 1950s machine pressed 1600 bricks per hour. All the operator needed to do was keep the hopper filled -- the machine did all the rest. The pressings were then dried before being kiln fired. Ralph Crum died in 1999 -- I don't know if anyone in his family, from amongst even his grandchildren who would help him pack the boxes for pocket money, still use his machine.

So, look out for teeny-tiny bricks (they were exported to Australia as well) bearing the name "L Adams". There's a bit of a story behind the wee things.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More from Pleasant Point Railway, and the Little River Rail Trail

More images courtesy of Bryan Blanchard. The commentaries are from his emails.

Above: Tr 18, a 1936 Diesel Shunter, was original had a petrol motor in it & in 1956 a GM diesel motor fitted and a Allison Torque Converter; and Ab 699 (1922), an ex-NZ Railway locomotive. Tr 18 was originally used by NZ Railway at Methven or Rakaia till the branch line was closed on 31/7/1976 and we purchased it of NZ Railways.

Above: Our Ubw wood wagon & Ab 699. Ab 699 was a North Island steam Locomotive working out of Palmerston North and Frankton, Hamilton till later in its life was shipped to the South Island. Christchurch was its home base. Has worked on the Fairlie branch Line.

Above: Tr 18 & Ab 699.

Above and all below: Little River branch line ran from Hornby, west of Christchurch railway station - opened in 1886 & closed 1/7/1962.

This is as far as the line ran on this section & now set up out side the old railway station & goods shed as a reminder that the branch line ran to here these waggons.  A bike rail trail is now operating on part of the old
railway line formation.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Images from Pleasant Point Museum & Railway

These photos come from Bryan Blanchard, of the Pleasant Point Museum & Railway. Descriptions from his email. 

Above: Ab 699 labelled as Ab 718, for the anniversary of the closing of the Fairlie Branch line on 2/3/1968 - line opened in 1884 - was a steam line to the end.

Ab 699, built by A & G Price in Thames in 1922 - the only Price Built Ab left - we bought from NZ Railways in 1970 for $600 - scrap valve then.

Our track gang working on our track = sleeper replacement.

Track repair work - Machine kindly bought to our site to pack and tamper the sleepers.

Interior of 1912 built carriage, A1142 - we are restoring at present - a long time job to finish.

Thanks, Bryan!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Trooper Billett of the Samoan Advance, 1914

Just a matter of days after New Zealand entered World War I, it was suggested by the British Government that New Zealand should send troops to occupy Western Samoa, then a German territory. By 11 August, 1413 men plus six nursing sisters had been recruited, equipped and gathered together to comprise the Samoa Advance Party, of the (3rd) Auckland regiment (Countess of Ranfurly's Own). The troops, including Private Leonard Johns Billett, travelled from Auckland to Wellington by train, and on 14th August (a public holiday) marched through Wellington streets to the Basin Reserve, past cheering crowds lining the streets. 

At the Basin Reserve, there was a final farewell from the Governor, the Earl of Liverpool, then they left Wellington on 15 August 1914 on the Monowai and the Moeraki. The journey to Samoa was uncertain in terms of safety: battleships of the German Pacific Squadron were thought to be in the area The Samoan Advance Party landed, unopposed, at Apia on 29 August 1914. 

Among the first tasks for the New Zealanders was securing the wireless station at Apia, which had been left booby-trapped by the departed German forces. Aside from that, the troops were involved during the first weeks with establish camps, digging defences, and repairing roads and bridges, as well as fortifying the wireless station.

The Samoa Relief Force took over from March 1915.

It isn't known how much longer Private Billett was in service, but if he remained with the 3rd Auckland regiment, that regiment, as part of the great Auckland Regiment, served at Gallipoli, France and Egypt.

Leonard Johns Billett died 18 March 1924, and was buried at St Ninian's Cemetery , St Georges Road, Avondale on 20 March. He was the second son of Sidney Richards Billett who, during World War I, worked as a carpenter at the Auckland Mental Hospital in Pt Chevalier. Both of L J Billett's parents, Sidney R Billett and his wife Bertha, are buried at the Billett family plot at St Ninians.

Historic images from NZETC.
Other sources: Wises Directories; Auckland Infantry, Peter Cooke, John H Gray & Ken Stead, 2010

Update, from Sandy (a comment Blogger had a snack on):

Interesting. You know me...I just can't resist....note that Leonard Johns BILLETT married 29 November 1916 at Mt Albert [Presbyterian Church] to Janet Christina Barbara NICHOLSON [1] Yet his Cenotaph Database record states his fiancee was Lizzy BROWN at the time of him enlisting in 1914. She may have died. He also has two military serial numbers, the one on the link to Cenotaph above and that which is the number on his headstone and THIS ONE 13/2531 which the record interestingly states he was born in Australia.His military records are available but currently restricted.


[1]marriage registration 1916/792 Historic BDM online