Proposed Northern Coast
PUBLIC MEETING AT CLARENCE
From our own Reporter. )
On Wedenesday evening a public meet- ing in furtherance of the proposed Nor- thern Coast Railway movement, and sup- porting the point of commencement at Morpeth, was held in the School of Arts, Clarence Town. There was a good attend- ance. Mr. W. Johnston, J.P., was voted to the chair. Mr. W. Bassett attended as a delegate from Morpeth.
The CHAIRMAN, having read the advertise- ment convening the meeting, said that at one time he was opposed to the Northern Coast Railway-when he represented the old con- stituency of the Williams. He opposed it at that time because he thought it was too premature. But he was now in favour of the
movement. The Parliament had sanctioned á railway from Homebush to Waratah. If there waa any good in it-and he believed there was-the people here should have the benefit of it. Everyone who had the interests of the district at heart ought to have been present to-night. He asserted most emphatically that not only would the proposed line benefit the district, but the community generally. Ho was sorry to find that the hall was not crowded. Tho people evidently did not know how important the present movement was to them. A railway was necessary to aid the progress of every district. The proposed Northern Coast Rail- way would prove a general benefit. It would save a large amount of money being spent
from time to 'time on the bar harbours.
Large sums of money had been expended on these bar harbours, and no sub- stantial permanent good had resulted. The Clarence, Richmond, and Tweed were continually silting up. The present move- ment originated at the Manning. He had a good opportunity on the occasion of the open- ing of the railway to Uralla of conversing with Mr. Wisdom on the subject. He told Mr. Wisdom that he thought the railway should start from Morpeth. He was aware that the Morpeth line had not been a great success, and the coast railway would make it a success. Mr. Wisdom said he would go in
heart and soul for the movement. In the beginning of last month he (Mr. Johnston) went to Sydney as one of the deputation to advocate the Northern Coast roilway. He met Mr. Wisdom, who told him that there were good promises of success. He presumed that trial surveys would be made from Hex- ham to Stroud ; from West Maitland, via Paterson, to Dungog ; and from Morpeth, via Seaham and Clarence Town. He thought the latter route was the best of the three. There were very few engineering difficulties to be encountered, and it would pass through rich country. It was not wise that this meeting should suggest by which route the line should go after leaving Clarence Town. Let the towns further up advocate their own cause. Their duty was to advo- cate that the proposed line start from Morpeth, and go -from thence to Clarence Town via Seaham. He would recommend that the committees co-operate with each other to secure the greatest passible success. No doubt the shareholders of the local steam company would be alarmed for fear that the line when constructed would interfere with
their freights. He anticipated nothing of the kind, and he was a shareholder. Where the facilities for trade were to be found there would trade increase. He felt thoroughly interested in this railway, as he believed it would do a large amount of good. It would also be a saving to the whole country. A deal of money was spent, and considerable annoyance experienced by the public, in con- sequence of these bar harbours. He had known steamers detained for some days at the Manning bar. The same thing occurred on the Clarence River. It was proposed that this line should extend beyond the Clarence. Increased prosperity would result to the districts through which the railway would pass. He wished to remind those present that some little expense would be attached to the movement, such au the cost of advertis- ing, etc. If each person was to give one shilling, the entire cost would be covered.
He would not detain them at greater length,
but would ask Mr. Bassett to move the first
Mr. WILLUM BASSETT said that on last Monday week at Morpeth a meeting wj»< held, at which a vigilance committee was appointed to see that the various matters connected with the surrey and construction of the proposed railway from Morpeth, then to the north as far as the Queensland border were carried into effect. When a similar commutée was appointed at Clarence Town and one formed at Dungog it would become necessary that there should be a combination of the various committees, who would work together and prevail on the Ministry to have a trial survey undertaken and completed, and the line begun without unnecessary delay. The country was, in his opinion, ripe for it. The Chairman had remarked that there waB a time when he (the Chairman) opposed the railway, but was now of the opinion that the country was ripe for it, and he would advocate it. Such was the opinion of the people of Morpeth, Dungog, the Manning, and other places further to the north. A small section of the line, about thirty miles in length, had been surveyed between the Clarence and the Tweed. They now asked that a Burvey be made from Morpeth, to be extended as far as the Queensland border. That the country was ripe for it was the assertion of their chairman. Such was his opinion also, and ho would be able to give figures to prove his contention. Although the data he had may not be strictly perfect yet it was sufficiently so for the present purpose. Between here and the Tweed there was a population of something like 50,000people,in the districts of the Paterson Dungog, Manning River, Macleay, Port Macquarie, Grafton, Richmond, and the Tweed. There were about 35,000 head of horses, 400,000 head of cattle, only about 10,000 sheep, 45,000 pigs, and an annual production of about 3,000,000 bushels of maize, weighing something like 75,000 tons. There were about thirty mills-exclusive of those on the coast-producing 30,000 tons of wood, a great deal of which was cedar. Then there were over 2,000 tons of potatoes pro- duced annually. There were also many Bhip yards along the route through which the projected railway would pass. North of this district the country produced sugar to the extent of over 10,000 tons annually, molasses honey, tobacco, hay, oats, wheat, barley, onions, rasins, and wines and grapes, cotton, fibre plants, Bilk, bananas, yams, sweet potatoes, arrowroot, ginger, tomatoes, chicory, tea, coffee, fruits in abundant variety for jams and preserves ; sauces, chut nies, and pickles. Shell lime and lime-stone
could also" be obtained in large quantities, fish in abundance ; and thousands of tons of oysters were available. He believed there was also gold, silver, tin, copper, lead, anti- mony, and other minerals in abundance. The
amount of traffic that wouldresult from those
productions would be enormous-so enormous that the country was thoroughly ripe for a railway such as the one proposed. There was A vast quantity of cedar produced, and was worth, at the rates lately ruling in Mait- land and Sydney, from £10 to £12 per ton. It could be carried 150 miles at from 8s. to
9s. per' ton. Oysters could be carried at 3d. per ton por Djjie, which amounted to about 2s. per kag, for 150 miles to Sydney. TH.;, corstruction of the railway would not in- jure the Bteam company of Clarence Town, but would rather facilitate business. He thought, therefore, that the country was ripe for a railway, and he would say1 further that it can be done. It would cause a large sum of money to be expended, and the work would be of a reproductive character. Sup- posing that such a railway was to cost the extreme sum of £10,000 per mile-which would amouut to about three millions of
poundB for the whole-to take it from Mor- peth to the Queensland border, fully one-half of that expenditure would be gathered in, as it were, by labourers and traders along the route. About one-third of this last men- tioned sum would go absolutely in the pay- ment for personal requisites of the labourers, supplied from Sydney and distant parts,
One mullion would romain after the work was overas profits to the people who supplied the goods and lodgings, which would amouut to £1000 each for 1000 men, some receiving less and some'greater proportions of the sum. These men as the road waB com-
pleted would Bettie down as permanent occu- piers of the soil or engage in local trade, affording by their industry andcapital'labour and food for fully fifteen souls each, or an increase to the districts of 15,000 people, who by the payment of taxes, would make an increase in the general revenue of the colony of from £25,000 to £30,000
year. This Bum would be an ad- ditional revenue above what was now pro- duced in the districts, and would be a source of gain, in the way of procuring more trade, for the railway. The railway can be built, and the security was sufficiently good to command fundB from the money markets of the world. If the vigilance committees worked well together and urged upon the Government the importance of carrying on the work, their efforts would doubtless be successful. That Morpeth was the best point of commencement he had nut the slightest doubt, presenting as it did a grand site for a large trading town at the navigable head of the finest river in the colony. If tHe Government began lower down the river would have to be crossed at Hexham or Raymond Terrace, impeding the navigation. Then again a large quantity of private land would have to be crossed, and this would cost an immense Bum of money, judging from the prices now aßked for land resumed. The route from Morpeth would absolutely connect
and make East Maitland the extended
terminus. He thought the route sugges-
ted from Maitland to the Paterson was out of. the question. The intermediate route from Morpeth would present greater facilities and less engineering difficulties. The chairman had stated that he did not think the Morpoth railway paid. The Morpeth line was paying admirably. All the wool was shipped at Morpeth, and more came there than from the Great Western or
Southern extension at Wagga. The Morpeth people were determined to keep the matter before the Government,«and hoped that the Clarence Town residents would co-operate with them. It was not for Morpeth or Clarence Town to point out as to where the railway should paBS within amileorso. That should be left to the knowledge and experi- ence of the surveyors engaged on the work. From Morpeth through Clarence Town a little to the west, and on to Dungog should op» parently be the route. The resolution he had been asked to move was as follows:
That it is bigtily desirable nnd will be¡ conducive to
to the best interests of New South Wales that the Ëroposed North Cost Railway be commenced at
lorpeth es a branch of the present Great Nor- thern Railway.
It would not be a trunk line, but a branch, which might become more important than its trunk. The line would pass over rich ridges and fiats capable of valuable productions. Some of the land was fit for carrying a large number of sheep. He begged to move the
Mr. CBOAKEB seconded the resolution.
The CIIAIMIAN differed from the mover of the resolution in regard to the character of the line. He thought it would be a trunk line, and not a branch.
The resolution was unanimously carried.
Mr. WILTON HACK said the resolution handed to him to submit to the meeting for its approval read as follows :
That in the ophion of this meeting tbe cheapest and
most direct route for the Northern Coast Rail- way would be, after leaving Morpeth, to go
via ¡Seaham and Claronce Town.
He did not intend to take up the time of the meeting by discussing the advisability of the proposed Northern Coast railway. The only question, so far as the people of that district were concerned, for consideration at the present time as to the best starting point. Three routes had been suggested : one from Hexham, crossing the river, thence to Raymond Terrace, and on to Stroud. He thought they could dismiss that route from their minds, as there were many difficulties in the way. The next route suggested was from Morpeth via Seaham and Clarence Town, ana the third from somewhere in ? Maitland to the Paterson, and thence to Dungog. With regard to the latter route, when they came to compare the relative posi- tions of the country and its physical condi- tion, the people of that district were in the happy position of having the greatest advantage. The country through whioh the line would pass if the latter route were adopted was BO suitable by nature for such a purpose that he could not see how the Government, considering the physical advan- tages the country possessed, could adopt any other route that would be so advantageous. A coast railway should go as near the coast as possible, all things being equal. At present they lived in peace, but they did not know how soon the British Nation may be involved in war. Situated as the people of this coun- try were, having a coast that may be landed on at any point it was highly desirable that a railway should connect the coast dis- tricts so that troopB may be con- veyed hither and thither in case of emergency to protect the people from- a foreign aud hoBtile foe. As Mr. Bassett had
observed it waB not for them to dictate as to
the exact Bpot through which the railway should pass. This was a matter that should be left entirely to the judgment and ex- perience of the surveyors who may be ap- pointed to make tho surveys. Another great advantage that would result from the adoption of the Morpeth and Clarence Tovtn route was that they had in that district and close to Clarence Town one oí the grandest and richest deposits oE stone in the world. This sto^e would save the Govern- ment, BO íar OB the gaol alone was concerned, a vaBt sum annually, if greater facilities were secured for delivering. Mr. Lewis had informod him that if ho could get the stone delivered at a reasonable rate he would use it in every building erected under his supervision. It would result in an im- mense saving to the country. The stone could be obtaiuod in unlimited quantities for all public works. He regarded this as a strong point in favour of the line by way of Clarence Town. It was also desir- able that the Government should assist districts, which were perhaps not so highly favored as others. Facilities should be given for the conveyance of the pro- ducts of the district to market. If the railway passed through that district it would be a great advantage to the people. The route they had met to advocate was the cheapest, inasmuch as it was the most level, and consequently the engineering difficulties were not so great.
Mr. John B. DAHK had very much pleasure in seconding the resolution. The previous speakers bad said sufficient in advocacy of the ronte from Morpeth via Clarence Town. There were no great engineering difficulties in the way, and consequently thei expense would not bo so great. Se >jp&"d\that the
movement would be successful. A "emark had been made about the local steam co'apany suffering. They must not consider the ç*w> but the greater number. They must look upo^ the question as a national benefit. '
The resolution was unanimously adopted.
Mr. J. LYALL moved the third resolution,
as follows : *>
Tbiit a committee be nppnii.ted, 'with power to add
to their number, to watch the interests of the district in connection with the proposed rail way ; to draw up for signature a suitable peti tition to Parliament ; and to act in concert with other committees having the same object in view. Committee-W. Johnston, J.P., C. P. Holmes, J.P. J. Lyall, J.P., W. H. Holmes, J.P., J. Laurie, JP, J. Carlton, J.P, Savin Car- michael, J.P, S Dark, J. Dark, 8 Robirdu, W. Croker, W. Hack, D Plesner. H. Kusa, O. Stork, W. Fisher, F. Lowe.
The committee will have to work and co- operate with other committees that may be appointed along the line. As those present were desirous of trying to get the route for the Northern Coast railway from Morpeth, via Seaham and Clarence Town, no doubt there were other people just as anxious and working as strenuously to get other routes adopted. Like the previous speakers he be- lieved that the route they were now advocat- ing was the best. It was a level country, or nearly so. There was one large hill near Seaham, but he thought this might be avoided. This railway would not be like the Illawarra railway, the country through which it passes being spoken of as barren. In the route they were advocating there was no barren country. It was inhabi- ted and pretty rich in character, and if the proposed railway were constructed it would
add very considerably to its productiveness. j n
E h ti
It would go through country rich in iron ore on right and left, and limestone also on one hand, and very likely coal, too, if persons took the trouble and went to the expense of looking for it. The deposits of lime and iron ore were of boundless extent between the waters of the Coraki river and the Wil- liams. There were also large tracts of land suitable for agricultural purposes, which could be cultivated with advantage, if railway facilities were afforded. The route proposed was the cheapest, and best. This committee would have to work with other committees. If the people were true and faithful to them- selves, and worked energetically, they may be
successful in having the suggested route from Morpeth by way of Clarence Town adopted. Tbey would have to work, and to put their hands into their pockets, but a shilling or so from each would cover all the expense. He had much pleasure in moving the resolu-
Mr. S. ROBASDS had very great pleasure in seconding the resolution. He hoped that the committee would work unitedly and co- operate with other committees having the Bame object in view, and in the course of a year or two they would find the line running through Clarence Town.
This resolution was likewise unanimously approved.
Mr. Wilton Hack was elected Secretary, and Mr. S. Robards Treasurer. The CHAIB UAtf mentioned that Mr. Hack had taken great interest in this movement.
A vote of thanks was passed to Mr. John- ston for his conduct in the chair. In ackno w ledging the compliment Mr. JOHNSTON re- gretted that the meeting was not more numerously attended. He thought that an important question such as the one under considération ought to have attracted a crowded meeting.
On the motion of Mr. HACK, seconded by Mr. LYALL, a vote of thanks was passed to the proprietors of the Mercury for sending a representative- to the meeting. It was _ of very great importance in matters of that kind that the opinions of the people should be fittingly and concisely expressed in the press. The compliment was acknowledged.
On the motion of Mr. J. WINDHOSS, Mr. Bassett and other speakers were thanked for the information and assistance they had