Wanganui part 2: “the Rhine of New Zealand”.

The Wanganui up-river tourist trip to Pipiriki, per new river steamboats, discloses leagues of winding waters bounded by the evergreen banks of a bewitching land—a nature’s garden, sprinkled all around by bright patches of green and red, by green lawns and grasses, trees and shrubs; uniform plantations of stately poplars and gums, and irregular clumps of firs.

Then the scene changes as the little steamer clips round some water serpentine into a river reach, bounded by majestic rocks.

Pipi_river

The river becomes very tortuous, through wildest and most beautiful country, till Pipiriki is reached. This settlement, which is full of interest to tourist or traveller, is fifty-nine miles north of Wanganui.
[Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897. Abridged.]

Pipiriki landing

Pipiriki landing in 1905.

Pipi_Houseboat 225The delightful spot where the Houseboat is moored is near where the Ohura River, one of Wanganui’s largest tributaries, joins the main watercourse by falling in over a ledge.

The Houseboat has a dining saloon, social hall, smoking-room and lounge, and promenade decks, and is fitted with electric light, bathrooms, and lavatories. This floating palace forms an ideal holiday resort, combining the charm of an open-air riverside picnic with the comforts and attention of a first-class hotel. It affords accommodation to travellers up and down the river. On the down journey lunch is here partaken of, and on the up journey, taking two days from Pipiriki to Taumarunui, the night is spent on board.

Pipiriki houseboat 2

The upper deck contains the dining, social, smoking rooms etc., and the lower deck provides two-berth sleeping accommodation for about sixty persons. The Houseboat is the property of Messrs A. Hatrick and Co., of Wanganui, who control the tourist trade on the river. They also possess a large, modern hotel at Pipiriki, and provide a fleet of eleven steamers, specially built in England for the tourist traffic. The steamers travel from Wanganui to Taumarunui, the terminus of the Main Trunk Railway, connecting in this way with Auckland and Rotorua.
[Caption from a Stereo card of the houseboat by Rose’s Stereoscopic Views, Melbourne, Australia. c.1909. Abridged.]

Pipiriki House 2

Alexander Hatrick, who promoted the river internationally as the “Rhine of New Zealand” even though the two have little in common, bought Pipiriki House in 1901 and doubled its size. It burned down in 1910.

Pipiriki House

Undaunted, Hatrick replaced his hotel with this one which lasted until 1959, when it also burned to the ground. It wasn’t rebuilt.

Pipiriki porch

The view from the new Pipiriki House after 1910.

Pipi_excursion_Manuwai

The stern wheel paddle steamer Manuwai was Hatrick’s biggest river boat, pictured here on an excursion in the Wanganui’s lower reaches in 1905. The upstream section from Pipiriki to Taumarunui required smaller boats that could handle being winched over some of the rapids.

If you want to relive the old days on the Whanganui river, you can take a summer cruise in the restored paddle steamer Waimarie, built in 1899. The season starts October 20.

Image sources: counting down from the top – 2, 3, 5 and 8 are from the Te Papa collection, the rest are from mine.

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Wanganui: river city.

Wanganui

Wanganui, New Zealand, from Durie Hill.

The Wanganui of 1897 is a charming spot, desirable alike as a place of residence or as a health resort. The old settlers, who bore the burden and heat of the day during the anxious days when houses were first robbed and then fired, farms wrecked and lives sacrificed, have mostly passed away. Little is known by the present generation of the hardships endured by the pioneers, who braved the dangers and endured the privations which fell to their lot, and thus paved the way for the advantages of these later times.

Situated in latitude 39°57″ south and in longitude 175°5″ east, and being distant from Wellington 151 miles by rail and 102 miles by sea, the borough is on the right (or north) bank of the Wanganui River.

Wanganui river

Looking down river from the north bank.

The population of Wanganui, as disclosed by the census of 1896, was 5936. This would, however, be much increased by including the suburbs, not forgetting those on the south bank of the river, with which the borough is connected with a splendid iron bridge, 600 feet long, supported on seven cast-iron cylindrical piers, and constructed at a cost of £32,000.

Wanganui_Vic Ave

Victoria Avenue at the north end of the bridge.

Wanganui is about four miles from the Heads, the river being navigable for vessels of light draught for fifty-nine miles, to Pipiriki, with which there is a regular steam-service.

An important station on the Wellington and Napier to New Plymouth railway lines, there is regular communication with all parts of the North Island inland, in addition to the steamer traffic by the West Coast.

Wanganui wharf

A slow day at the town wharf.

Referring to this sunny spot, a writer in the Otago Witness says:—“Suddenly sweeping round a bend of the hillside road you have been shooting down for the last ten minutes, lovely Wanganui and its stately river, spanned by the cylinder bridge, and all the spires and homes among the plantations, come into view; and after the visitor has admired the natural charms of the place his next impression is a firm conviction that Wanganui has all the elements of a vigorous, prosperous, and contented town”.
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897.

Wanganui_Cooks Gdns

Part of the town seen from Cooks Gardens, with a good breeze blowing to dry the washing in the back paddock.

The photographs, all from the Te Papa collection, were made between 1901 and 1906.

Wanganui is now, officially, Whanganui.
Check the location with this North Island map at Lonely Planet.

 

Boulogne-sur-Mer

My last post, about Folkestone on the south coast of England, included a vintage postcard image of the cross-channel steamer Invicta leaving for Boulogne in France, so I’ll follow that today with a few postcards of the ship’s destination.

Boulogne quay

The harbour as you see it here, before the First World War, was completely destroyed by British bombers in the Second, when Boulogne was occupied by German troops.

Boulogne fish quay

Buying fresh fish straight off the boat. The ferries are now gone from Boulogne (and Folkestone) but the rebuilt harbour is still the premier fishing port in France.

Boulogne beach

There isn’t enough room to plant a deck chair on this beach thanks to the bathing machines (ladies changing rooms on wheels) for hire.

B_aurevoir

The caption for this card says the locally owned paddle steamer Au Revoir is arriving even though, at first glance, it looks like it’s leaving. Look closely at the wake and you can see she’s going backwards. It seems that steamers entered Boulogne harbour stern first and reversed to their berths.

B_au revoir 2

The Au Revoir began life in 1896 as the Calais, a night ferry on the Dover to Calais route, before being sold to Boulogne interests in 1911. She was used as an excursion steamer and tender to trans-Atlantic liners for the next three years. Taken over by the French navy in 1914 she served as an auxiliary patrol vessel until torpedoed and sunk, with the loss of three crew, two years later.

Folkestone from top to bottom.

Charles G. Harper points his caustic pen at Folkestone, England, and its social divide.

….modern Folkestone, as distinguished from the old fishing-port, wears in its most prominent residential parts the appearance of an unregenerate South Kensington. Cubitt [the architect], that great conjurer with bricks and mortar (not forgetting the plaster) was the author of both. He bade arise both Cromwell Road and the intensely respectable and extremely expensive mansions that front upon the Folkestone Leas – or Lees, as I grieve to find them frequently spelt.

Folkestone Lees-2

Now the Folkestone that in these times centres upon the Leas notices sometimes that the sea does, in fact, incidentally stretch away out and down there, and it knows – ah, yes – that there is a harbour. Sometimes you start from it for the Continent, don’t you know!

F_harbour

The ferry ‘Invicta’ leaving Folkestone for Boulogne. c. 1906.

But from the austere and exclusive Leas the tripper element is entirely banished, and those sedate and dignified fashionable visitors who promenade beside the lawns between the old church of St. Eanswythe at the eastern extremity and the huge Hotel Metropole and the Grand at the western end seem to take their pleasure as solemnly as though it were one everlasting Church Parade.

F_leas shelter

There are people, it is true, of a lower social status, and of a more primitive and joyous nature, who come to Folkestone, and patronise the very fine pleasure pier, and do not disdain the beach and the simple old delights of the seashore; and there are still other people who patronise a “switchback” contrivance down below; but these are folk who stay somewhere in back streets, who have no sort of commerce with the refined life which distinguishes the Leas.

F_pier

The fine pleasure pier down below.

Sometimes, it is true, some of the Olympians of these heights descend by the lifts that communicate directly with that geographical and social underworld, and occasionally the primitive people of down yonder ascend by the same means from the Lower Road to explore this rarefied region, and both are impressed by what they see and hear. But they mingle no more than oil and water will do. The very bands understand to a nicety the differences of ideals and outlook, and render Grieg, Wagner, and classical music above, while to the Lower Road audiences they discourse strains of a simpler and more popular kind.
‘The Kentish Coast’, Charles G. Harper. Chapman & Hall, Ltd. 1914. [Abridged]

F_beach

The Leas above and the beach below with the lifts (left) in between.

Illustrations from vintage postcards in my collection.

 

Tintern Abbey

From ‘Coming Down the Wye’ by Robert Gibbings. 1942.

It was evening when I stepped ashore by the old Anchor Inn at Tintern, the evening of the harvest moon. On that night, in less prosaic times, lovers came from far and near to whisper promises to each other while, from the west end of the abbey, they watched the full moon fill the great empty circle in the head of the eastern window.

Tintern Abbey 1-3

The building was glowing in the evening light, warm as the rose-tinted walls of Petra. After sunset a shimmering veil of mist filled the valley, through which the church appeared tenuous and unsubstantial.

I wandered among the idle pillars and arches while the evening lost its light. Dew began to fall. Owls called from wood to wood ‘Oo, ooloo oo. Oo, ooloo oo.” It grew darker. A pig grunted; a calf bellowed. Still darker. A woman and a man palavered on the road. Dark cars rushed past in the darkness. ‘Oo, ooloo ooloo oo.’

Then over the high, wooded, eastern hill came the moon, golden in the deep indigo sky. Steadily it grew from a shallow crescent to a fuller arc, then to a half circle, to three-quarters, to the full sphere of light. I was alone, and had no wish for whispers from any one. From the southern meadow I watched the shadows creep into the aisles, and the transepts emerge from dark shapes of their own creating.

Tintern Abbey 4-3

As the mist cleared away the church stood revealed in the moonlight, so calm, so still, yet no calmer than the bones of those who lie beneath its turf; priests, deacons, laymen, all who, in their own way, have swelled the universal song of praise. Some of us worship life because we fear death, some of us worship death because we fear life. There is room for us all. Jackdaws now praise God where once the white-robed monks sang hymns.

After the grand orchestra of the hills through which the Wye finds its course Tintern may seem but the reed-song of a boy, yet no chord of praise was ever better tuned. The ruin is so perfect now that it is difficult to believe it could ever have been nobler. I, for one, could not wish one more stone upon another.

Follow these links for more information about Tintern Abbey in Wales, the Anchor Inn and the river Wye.

Launching 534.

Cigarette card image of the Cunard ship RMS Mauretania.In 1905 the Cunard Steam-Ship Company embarked on a three-ship weekly mail service by ordering Lusitania and Mauretania; a quarter century afterwards work began on the first instalment of a two-ship service.

A 4½-day crossing [of the Atlantic] had to be the target, but such an increase in speed entailed a ship nearly 60 per cent larger than [Bremen] the German record-breaker. The cost of such a vessel would be enormous, but it would be possible to ‘turn her round’ in a week so that she and a sister could do the work previously performed by three. The Cunard Company therefore decided to build one 4½-day ship to replace Mauretania, follow her up with a second, and then retire Berengaria and Aquitania. The keel of the first was laid on December 27th, 1930. No name was allocated and she was referred to by her works number, ‘534’.

Building of ‘534’ began at an unfortunate moment, for the early 1930’s brought one of the worst depressions shipping has ever known. The Cunard Company was compelled to conserve its financial resources and suspended construction on December 10th, 1931. After an interval the British Government offered to lend £3 million on very favourable terms to complete ‘534’ and a maximum of £5 million to build a consort, on condition that the Cunard should amalgamate with the White Star Line. There was no practical alternative to acceptance.

Queen Mary launchWork was resumed in April 1934 and the ship was launched on September 26th of that year. Many names, including Victoria, had been suggested, but the hull slid into the water as the Queen Mary.
‘Passenger Liners of the Western Ocean’, C.R. Vernon Gibbs. Staples Press, 1952. [Abridged].

“I am happy to name this ship ‘Queen Mary‘.” Having bestowed her own name on the great vessel, formerly known as “534,” Her Majesty the Queen launched the world’s largest liner on the Clyde on September 26th, 1934. A quarter of a million people in Messrs. John Brown & Co.’s shipyard watched the huge shape gather momentum, cleanly take the water, and send a white wave foaming over the opposite shore. The King (who is seen with the Queen acknowledging the cheers as Their Majesties approached the launching platform) described the liner – the first built for the combined Cunard-White Star Fleet – as “the stateliest ship now in being.”
Caption on a cigarette card (above) issued by W.D. & H.O. Wills, 1935.

Queen Mary 30s-3

A company postcard from the 1930s.

Queen Mary 50s-2

A Cunard postcard after her service as a troop ship in WWII. White Star was dropped from the company name in 1947.

 

The King’s English

This snippet from ‘The Days Before Yesterday’ by Lord Frederic Hamilton supports the fact that “received English“, the accent of the English upper classes we know today, is a comparitively recent development from the mid-19th century.

lord-frederic-hamiltonIn the “seventies” [1870s] some of the curious tricks of pronunciation of the eighteenth century still survived. My aunts, who had been born with, or before the nineteenth century, invariably pronounced “yellow” as “yaller.” “Lilac” and “cucumber” became “laylock” and “cowcumber,” and a gold bracelet was referred to as a “goold brasslet.” They always spoke of “Proosia” and “Roosia,” drank tea out of a “chaney” cup, and the eldest of them was still “much obleeged” for any little service rendered to her, played at “cyards,” and took a little stroll in the “gyarden.” My grandfather, who was born in 1766, insisted to the end of his life on terming the capital of these islands “Lunnon,” in eighteenth-century fashion.
‘The Days Before Yesterday’, Lord Frederic Hamilton. Hodder and Stoughton, London. 1920.

I’m no linguist but this ‘sounds’ like the accent of the West Country, the counties of Somerset and Devon that had an influence on English pronunciation in Elizabethan times. Modern research suggests this was the original sound of Shakespeare’s plays.