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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 5 (August 1, 1939)

The Men Who Make It Possible — “Judge them by their Job”

page 45

The Men Who Make It Possible
“Judge them by their Job”

Transporting material over a Westland Glacier for the erection of a mountain hut.

Transporting material over a Westland Glacier for the erection of a mountain hut.

There is, today, a tendency on the part of some members of the travelling public to take for granted everything that makes for the speed, the comfort and the convenience of travel. On rare occasions, of course, one might well approve the expression of some comfort-wrapped passenger, “I wouldn't care to be in the engine-cab on a night like this!”—or some similar expression. All the more reason then that we should remember with gratitude the work of the nation-builders of yesterday and today.

You may halt your car on the crest of some saddle in South Westland, from whence the outlook is so vividly beautiful as to almost justify the use of that much overworked adjective “wonderful.” Your companion, if his tastes lie that way, may suggest, “Great bit of engineering?” Undoubtedly, but more, though, than engineering. Maybe, men have died so that canted curves and ordered roads should enhance your enjoyment of the lush loveliness through which your highway winds.

Turning from the still, clear cold of the snowfields into the welcome shelter, of, say, the Chancellor or Almer huts, it is the most natural thing in the world to recognise the enterprise which prompted the Sullivans and Grahams to establish these amenities. To them the credit is due—but spare an appreciative thought for the lads who packed in the material, sixty pounds to a load, day after day, in order that you might savour your spaghetti on toast and asparagus sandwiches with that added appetite which the mountain air provokes.

To know these men is to respect them and admire them for their work and progressive outlook. The old-time navvy, with his blue flannel, his mole-skins and clay pipe is as extinct as the moa, but he made some good roads and some excellent railroads in his time. His place in the scheme of things is filled by a well setup youngster in cord trousers and khaki shirt. If you visit
Workmen's Camp at Jackson's Bay, South Westland.

Workmen's Camp at Jackson's Bay, South Westland.

his camp he will offer you a weekl paper to look at while he boils the billy and switches on the wireless. He will, if you care, engage you in discussion upon any of the burning issues of the day, give you chapter and verse in support of the opinions he holds so firmly. Should you crave amusement, he will place at your disposal Australia's national game. If you lean towards sport he will take you out on the local links, and, in a fast increasing percentage, keep you fully occupied. In short, he is an allround man.

With other ancient landmarks of the back of beyond have gone the “humpies,” each bearing the stamp of its owner-builder's rugged individuality. Like the deep-thatched cottages of England's West Country, they made up in artistic effect what they lacked in comfort—and they were picturesque in their day and generation. On the major jobs today, however, they are replaced by miniature townships, on the lesser undertakings by small base camps whence the men are conveyed to their jobs by lorries.

page 46

Mechanisation has done much to ameliorate the lot of those whose work is done in out-of-the-way places. In the bad old times the day's work consisted of alternately filling and emptying a barrow—and it is necessary to have a turn at that to realise how soon it becomes soul-destroying. The boast of the individual employed used to be “the amount of material I can shift in a day.” The talk of his lineal descendant of these days is of “the yardage shifted on our section last month.” The “wheel-barrow complex” has been displaced by the collective outlook, which in its turn makes for efficiency, comfort and mental uplift.

The dear old lady smilingly approached the tobacconist with: “I want some cigarette tobacco for my son.” “Certainly, Madam,” said the tobacconist, “what kind would you like?” “Oh, I forget its name,” replied the old lady, “but it's the tobacco my son says nearly everybody's smoking now.” The tobacconist smiled. “Then this will be it,” he said, handing over a tin of Riverhead Gold. “That, Madam,” he continued, “is the finest cigarette tobacco money can buy. It's quite harmless, too, because being toasted by a special process, it's practically free from nicotine.” The old lady beamed. “I am sure that must be the tobacco my son wants,” she said, “I suppose you sell a lot of it?” “Any amount,” replied the tobacconist, “you see it's everybody's favourite.” Well pleased, the old lady smilingly departed. River-head Gold, as all who “roll their own” know, is one of the five famous toasted brands: Riverhead Gold, Desert Gold, Cavendish, Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), and Cut Plug No. 10 (Bullshead). As several worthless imitations are about —be careful when you buy.*

It is difficult in the space available for this article to do justice to the subject of it. I have foregathered with him in all quarters of the world; in the estaminets and “other places where they sing” in Northern France; in forecastles of freighters; in the rolling mills on the Potrero in ‘Frisco; and in divers jobs in New Zealand from the Bluff to the North Cape, and I have always found him a man to tie to. His aptitude to avail himself of opportunities has never been more clearly illustrated than it is today.

They are the people who make it possible for you to travel in comfort whilst you are appreciating the lavish scenic glories of New Zealand. Judge them by their job.

The Chancellor Ridge Hut near the head of the Franz Josef Glacier, South Westland.

The Chancellor Ridge Hut near the head of the Franz Josef Glacier, South Westland.

“Coronation Scot” in America

One of the outstanding advertising activities of the Home railways this year was the shipping to America of the L.M. & S. “Coronation Scot” locomotive and train, which toured some 3,000 miles over the United States before exhibition at the New York World's Fair. The train was dispatched from Southhampton to Baltimore towards the end of January, and after being assembled in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad shops, the American tour commenced on 21st March. The train is formed of the following vehicles, in their order from the locomotive: — corridor first - class brake coach; corridor first-class coach; corridor first-class lounge with cocktail bar; first-class diner; kitchen-car; third-class diner; first-class sleeper; and club saloon. The sleeping-car is not a normal part of the “Coronation Scot” (a daytime service), but is included to illustrate modern British sleeping-car design. The locomotive hauling the “Coronation Scot” throughout its American tour is No. 6,220 Coronation, built at Crewe in 1937. Both the engine and train are fully streamlined. Americans have very pleasant recollections of the tour of the L.M. & S. “Royal Scot” through the Eastern States in 1933. From the publicity viewpoint, this tour proved an enormous success. This latest visitor from across the Atlantic, the beautiful “Coronation Scot” train of 1939, has proved, likewise, a successful publicity venture.