Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More about Christchurch's transport woes; new Colombo Street transit lanes blocked by vehicles ....boy racers ....buses not meeting contractual, without light, taxis not meeting standards


Obstructing the Tramway.

Charles H. Lewis was charged with having on April 2 wilfully, and without lawful excuse driven upon the line of the Canterbury Tramway Company, Limited, such tramway being authorised under the provisions of the Tramways Act, 1872, there remaining "in such a manner and for such a time as to obstruct a carriage using the tram way." Mr Cowlishaw appeared for the company, and Mr Stringer for the defendant. J. Evans Brown, Chairman of the Company, produced the order in Council authorising the line, and the deed of concession between tho City Council and the Company. The line had been duly inspected and reported fit for traffic. John Smith, guard employed by the Company, deposed that he was with the 4.40 train going along Colombo street. At the loop line by Montgomery's they were stopped, defendant being on the line with a brake and a pair of horses. He declined to move, although several times requested to do so, and notwithstanding the information that people were being conveyed to the railway. The train was delayed six or seven minutes, and the train was missed. Lewis told witness he was doing it more for a test case......[ the arrogant bastard was duly fined by the unsympathetic magistrate]


Furious Riding

George Robertson was charged with furiously riding a horse along the Ferry road on March 24, the evidence being to the effect that accused and another man— on the day of the Regatta— were racing their horses, notwithstanding that many people were on the road. Thomas Pepperill, the second man referred to, was also summoned. Both denied having ridden furiously. His Worship said there was no doubt the accused were riding recklessly. Fined 10s each and costs.


A Wandering 'Buss

William Hayward, summoned for running his 'bus on a route other than that allotted to him, without advertising the alteration, produced copies of advertisements inserted by him. It appeared that accused was licensed to ply between Christchurch and Sumner, and turned back at Lichfield street,- not having gone the full extent of his route. Accused said it was raining very hard, and there were no passengers. He did not think he was required to do the journey under the circumstances. His Worship said opinions differed on this point. Accused contended that the 'bus never started on its journey. He was there to fulfil his advertised engagement if there was anyone to go, and there was nothing whatever in the Act to compel him to go 16 miles without a passenger. His Worship held that accused did start on the journey, and that he might be fined. He was, however, content to admit the explanation, as accused might have been under a misapprehension.


No Lights.

M. Goodger, for not having proper lights on his licensed cab, was fined 10s and cost 2s.— Wm. Jordan and Michael O'Keef were also fined 10s oach.

All items  from a single day's court news in 
The  Star,  Christchurch,  12 April 1880, Page 3

Hey, is nothing new?

There's a lot of Christchurch transport history and, for me, a bit of personal history, linked to "everybody's the day in court" here.This was only a few weeks after the first tram cars in Christchurch, pulled by Kitson Steam trams, began running;  I have lived in one of the houses that Tramway company founder J.Evans Brown - "Yankee" Brown -  lived in during that period and have been able to access his dairies (ex the archives in North Carolina USA) for historical research. The names of the lawyers, Stringer and Cowlishaw  became associated with  streets and multi-generational legal families in Christchurch - one of the Stringers became a Supreme Court Judge. 

During the 2003 Reunion of former Christchurch City bus drivers and 100th anniversary of the founding of the Christchurch Tramway (later Transport) Board one of the original steam trams - one of the few still working in the world - was brought up from Ferrymead Historic Park on a low loader and eased down on to the city's Heritage tramway tracks. It ran for a day ran for a day along city streets. Sitting on an open deck of a tramway trailer behind my surprise was actually how comparatively little steam, smoke or cinders ended up in the face, though perhaps a side wind helped. Along with being one of the few living people in the world to have ridden a draisienne (search term in  previous posts for stunning expose' !) I also enjoy the small (and somewhat obscure) honour of being one of the few humans living in this world to have ridden along city streets in a tramcar pulled by a steam tram.

One hundred and thirty years ago horses did the speedster role and reading old papers it is common to note accidents, collisions or horses kicking or throwing riders leaving a trail of maimed and dead just as cars to today!;  The William Hayward with his errant 'buss, was presumably Billy Hayward who later operated a sizeable livery stable, horse omnibus and later motorised taxi service from "The Rink" in Victoria Square. He also served on the Tramway Board for years and was still there - fifty-two years after the court case above - in 1932 when the trammies went into a bitter and at times violent strike over the dismissal of 12 men including popular union president Jock Mathison. I interviewed Mathison fifty years later in 1977 for the book I wrote on the 1932 tramway strike, by which time he'd been a Member of Parliament and Minister of Transport 1957-60. He remembered Hayward the CTB Board member as a hard bitter old man and commented on the absurdity of a taxi operator being on the tramway board. Mathison himself went from trammy in 1926 to Union president (sacked in 1932) to Labour Board member 1933, and was a member on and off across 50 years, and indeed Chairman of the Transport Board when he died in 1982. Amongst the other trammies I interviewed in the late 1970s was Laurie Donnelly, who started in 1908, did 40 years retired in 1948 and was still alive (as was his wife) in their late 90s thirty years later. It felt like a small honour to capture something of this event and era, before it was lost forever.

When you research and write history the most valued comments come from those that were there at the time; I was hugely chucked when an elderly Wellington lawyer - who had been a boy in Christchurch the 1930s - told my brother "Tell your brother that he really captured the atmosphere of Christchurch in the 1930s" .
I received similar comments from two other elderly survivors of that era.

It is no big deal I know, but it's sort of nice having these connections and root strands weaving back in the city's history and the public transport industry. One does not have to travel far for nourishment or stimulus (or non-malicious gossip) when the roots reach deep! Mind you as these events show, all past eras are there in the present, like layers of lasagne, the same mix of personalities and character traits, the same structural pattern of conflicts of interest, even the same names.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

NOTE This material is sourced from the fabulous PAPERS PAST website - if you have ancestors in New Zealand or want to find out about anything at all from New Zealand's past,post 1840,  using keyword and date search, and many other refinements, this website offers unprecedented access to the past from full  reprints of dozens of NZ newspapers up until 1909 and a already, few past this date (Wellington's "Evening Post" to 1945). For anyone who searched history in past years - which can include endless hours of scanning tiny print newspapers with minimal headines -  the ease and depth, and breadth of material brought to the surface, as well as the speed of acccess is absolutely incredible!!

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