100 years ago: from our archives

The motor mechanics’ class at work  as part of the returned soldiers’ vocational training at...
The motor mechanics’ class at work as part of the returned soldiers’ vocational training at Queen Mary Hospital, Hanmer. — Otago Witness, 21.10.1919. COPIES OF PICTURE AVAILABLE FROM ODT FRONT OFFICE, LOWER STUART ST, OR WWW.OTAGOIMAGES.CO.NZ
No health and safety concerns then

In acknowledging a gift from his fellow workers on the occasion of his retirement from the railway service, Mr William Hyland, a veteran engine-driver, recounted some experiences that must be rather in the nature of an eye-opener to the present generation. Speaking of the hours of service and the wages paid in the early days, he stated (says the Lyttleton Times) that about 34 years ago his week's work consisted of two days from 2 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the other four days from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m., and his daily wage was 9s, without overtime allowance. On two Sundays in each month he had to wash out his engine, and the two days were counted as one, for which he received the ordinary wage. Little consideration was shown the engine-men in regard to hours of labour, and as an example of what was expected of them on occasions Mr Hyland related one of his own experiences. At 6.30 a.m. on a Friday, he said, he started from Timaru with a goods train, which arrived in Christchurch at 4 p.m. He then received his orders to start at 6.30 p.m. with an excursion train for Dunedin for the departure of one of the South African contingents from Port Chalmers, his run being scheduled to Oamaru. On arrival at Oamaru at 4 a.m., however, the stationmaster informed him that they had neither engine nor driver to the train the remainder of the journey, and he would have to carry on. This he did, and finished up with the run about noon, in a thoroughly exhausted condition. As a result of the long hours and strenuous work, it was not an unusual occurrence for the driver or fireman to fall asleep on the engine, and Mr Hyland remembers one occasion on which both the enginemen in charge of a goods train slumbered together over a considerable length of their journey, and were aroused only by the different sound caused by running through a station.

Waihemo proposes speed limits

The Waihemo County Council recently sent a resolution to other local bodies urging that the Government should pass legislation limiting the speed of motor cars to 25 miles per hour. So far 14 replies have been received, six supporting the proposal. The Rangitikei County Council advised that the proposal was not practicable in its district, and the Mackenzie County Council declined to endorse the suggestion on the ground that what was a safe speed depended largely on roads and circumstances.

Mistaken identity

As instancing the rarity of the ministers' visits to the settlers in the back-blocks of the North, the Rev. A. Anstice, in the course of an address at the Baptist Conference in Christchurch, told of one such visit which he paid. He found that the whole family, who were working at the cow-shed, peered at him with an air of suspicion which quite mystified him until he learned that they thought he was the rate collector or something of the kind, and that they were greatly relieved to find that he was only a travelling parson.

'Blue crane' at Paretai

A blue crane recently arrived at Mr Peter Dippie's farm, Riverside, taking up its abode in a quiet reach of the Molyneux alongside a small islet near Mr Dippie's home (says the Balclutha Free Press). The bird is quite tame.

- ODT, 20.10.1919.


We be thinking it's a blue heron, Clutha Free Press.

Not Russian, like.