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EXTENDING THE BROAD GAUGE.
OPPOSITION FROM HAMLEY BRIDGE. CHAT WITH DR. DAWKINS.
The proposal of the Government to alter the railway between Hamley Bridge and Balaklava from narrow to broad gauge, and to have at the latter place arrangements
for the transfer of goods instead of at Hamley Bridge, has never found favour with the residents of the present break-of-gauge town. Now the matter has been taken up by the local vigilance committee, which has the support of all the residents of the district. Naturally it might be expected that a proposal the consummation of which would necessarily be disastrous to the townspeople would be keenly objected to, but the contentions of Hamley people are not only from what might be called by critics the selfish standpoint of self-defence, but from consideration of its significance to the State as a whole. Dr. S. L. Dawkins, a well-known resident of Hamley Bridge, had a chat with a repre- sentative of The Register on Wednesday, and his remarks should be interesting be- cause he voices the opinion of the resi- dents. Dr. Dawkins said: — "We admit that a break of gauge is an evil, but just to move it to Balaklava would. not solve the difficulty. We believe that the extension of the broad gauge to that place will cost the Government considerably more than the alteration to the yards at Hamley Bridge, which would overcome all the difficulty occasioned now by the want of space. It should be remembered that when the line has been altered it will be necessary to survey a railway yard at the new broad gauge terminus. Moreover, it is said that the existing Balaklava yard is not large enough to meet requirements, and a new station will have to be built there. Then again the permanent way from Hamley Bridge to Balaklava has just been relaid at considerable expense, to say nothing of the new bridge over the Gilbert, which has been in existence for only two or three years. — Consider the Employes.— "The people who would suffer directly by the removal of the break of gauge are the railway employes, who, secure in the belief that their work is to be at Hamley Bridge for some time, have secured homes there. I am told that quite 150 to 200 people— men, women, and children— will have to leave Hamley Bridge if the pro- posal of the Government is carried out. Several have built houses of their own, and. it is quite plain that with so- many people leaving at once the value of their property must decrease materially. The number of houses occupied by these rail waymen is 27. and there are three boarding houses, all of which have been erected either by themselves or others solely for their accommodation. The total population of Hamley Bridge is approxi- mately 800, so that you will see to what an extent the town depends on the break of gauge. If the railway servants have to go away it will necessarily mean that local shopkeepers must suffer, and in all proba- bility there will be a number of assistants discharged. This, again, will add to the exodus from the town. It is a fair ques- tion to ask, 'Is the Government prepared to compensate its own employes who have to leave their recently erected homes for the deterioration in value of their pro- perty caused by this move, which has been mooted only since the men put up their residences?' Having once had their homes broken up in this way the men will natu- rally be chary ahout building at Balaklava, and we should like to know if it is the in- tention of the Government to give them houses there. —No Great Difficulty at Hamley.— "After thoroughly considering the matter we are confident that there is no great difficulty in the way of making the Hamley Bridge Station equal to all require- ments. The feeling is gaining ground that they could easily be overcome if there were men good enough to face them. We consider that if the large water tank which is not now used were removed, the goods shed taken from the east side of the line and placed where the tank is. and the run- ning shed removed right out of the yard the townspeople who use the goods shed would be better accommodated. Then a strip of land could be procured at a reasonable cost on the east side of the yard from Black's mill to the River Light. This would consist of property of the Duffield Estate, Messrs. Ayliffe and Butler, Shannon, & Co., and if necessary Wilson's chaff mill. If this strip were procured we feel confident that there would be ample room for all requirements. The size of the yard would be more than doubled. Two of the owners at least have intimated that their land could be purchased at valuation, and all are prepared to sell. I am given to understand by them that the Government has not yet approached them, although it has been said tbat one reason why the alteration cannot be made at Hamley is that the price of the land is too high, and another that it is not for sale. -- Would Not Mind Port Wakefield. — "It is well known that it is a desire of the railway authorities to remove the present running and repair sheds from Port Wakefield to Balaklava. Room might also be found at Hamley Bridge in the fork of the junction of the two northern lines, where these sheds would be conveniently situated. On the other hand, there is talk of converting the whole of the western system to broad gauge. I believe that Hamley Bridge people would not mind so much if the broad gauge were taken right on to Port Wakefield. To move it only 23 miles, however, does not appear a proper solution of the problem. The only saving in the transfer of goods would be of those from Balaklava and Owen, which does not amount to much, because the bulk of wheat and wool from Balaklava goes direct to Port Wakefield. Therefore there would be practically as much transferring at Balaklava as there is at Hamley. The railway authorities have just installed at Hamley Bridge a fine system of yard lighting at a -great cost, and this expenditure also would be wasted. — Public Meeting to be Held. — "We are going to hold a meeting on Friday day to protest against the proposal of the Government at which, I believe, figures will be given showing that the cost of the extension in comparison with that of altering Hamley Bridge yard would be particularly expensive, and an item which the taxpayers should watch most carefully. It is a matter which interests the State, and not only Hamley Bridge residents."
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