Lord Palmerston the Whig Foreign Minster was opposed to the formation of the Suez Canal and rather mixed about rail. On the 6th September 1845 he said "I have uneasiness for railway schemes - there must be failures amongst them".
Yet six months earlier on the 16th March, 1845, he wrote: "The rail rage is in our favour, they create station houses, beget villages, then towns and cities will spring up on the railway lines".
The cities in the North and South Islands which bear his name show the correctness of his words and in one of them a Masonic Lodge was influenced by railroad construction.
In 1881 United Manawatu Lodge No 1721 E..C. built the first Masonic Lodge rooms in the Palmerston North District. It was, in 1892, acquired by the New Zealand Railways under the Public Works Act and shifted to allow the railway to proceed through the centre of the city square. The building was used for many years as a Railway Social Hall, but with the rail to be shifted to the outskirts of Palmerston North, in 1972, it was to be demolished. Fortunately Lodge Rangitane No. 389 sought the permission of the demolishing firm to obtain two beautiful totara columns which stood at the entrance and incorporated them into their own lodge rooms in Freyburg, Street Palmerston North. The columns are of heart totara,. milled locally , originally 4.5 m long 45.72 cm at the base, today they are 2. .7m long tapered from a base of 38.1 cm to 30 cm at the head.
Palmerston South also has a Masonic claim in that in 1903 George Barclay was a member of Palmerston Lodge No.26. Originally Barclay was a railway man joining the N.Z. Railways as a cadet in 1883. He was initiated into Lodge of Otago No.844. E.C in 1891. Transfers within the department took him to many parts of New Zealand and be came the first Master of Tawhiri Lodge No.166 Frankton, In 1911, when he was also appointed S.G.W. Thanks to his interest in military affairs and his occupation as a railwayman he served with the N.Z.. Engineers in World War 1. to reach the rank of Colonel. He resigned from the railways after the war joining Grand Lodge staff as Assistant Secretary in 1920 and was Grand Secretary 1921-32. He retired as Grand Secretary with the rank of P. Dep. G.M. which was conferred in 1929. Barclay wrote "Extinct Lodges of New Zealand" now quite rare and invaluable for research. In the 1914-18 War he tried to form a military lodge attached to the New Zealand Division under the English Constitution.
He was unsuccessful so formed the First N.Z.E.F. Masonic Association in France. It was his wish that the Association remain active in peace time but again was not successful. however his efforts did bear fruit, as from members of the Association came Empire Lodge No.225 Wellington. The Service Lodge No.237 Dunedin and United Forces Lodge No.245 Christchurch. Rt. Wor. Bro. Barclay was a Foundation Member of each of them He was very active in the St John Ambulance Association all his life He died in 1943.
When rail was proposed to link Wellington with the north there were two schools of thought as to the most suitable route (a) via Hutt Valley (b) via the West Coast through Johnsonville and Paekakariki. John Howard Wallace who, owned land in Porirua and the Upper Manawatu naturally advocated the West Coast route. He lobbied the Government of the day so effectively that in 1879 work was started by the Government on the Crofton section of the Wellington-Foxton railway. By 1880 most of the Wellington-Johnsonville railway had been formed but, with a change of Government work ceased with no funds being made available. As a compromise the Government encouraged private interests to continue the work: This gave rise to the formation of the North Island West Coast Railway Committee with Wallace prominent in its activities. The Government gave the Committee, the right to reclaim 6 Y2 acres at Thorndon, north of Pipitea Point from waste spoil from cuttings. embankments etc. :From this, today's railway marshalling yards at Wellington have been formed. John Howard Wallace was No.39 on the roll of N.Z. Pacific Lodge, he was an early Secretary, became Junior Warden but never proceeded any further.
When the West Coast railway was constructed it was done by various contractors one of whom was W. Bro. Samuel Brown, P.D.G.W. Master of N.Z. Pacific Lodge in1884-85. He won the Pukerua-Paekakariki section contract. He first built a tramway from the top of the hill at Muri to the beach below and then to No 13 tunnel, by tram track on the beach enabling both ends of the section to be worked at the same time. By 5th October, 1886, the line was finished allowing a special train to run to Waikanae and whilst en route the last brick was ceremoniously laid in the last of the six tunnels on the Paekakariki section.. Later a marble slab was placed at the northern portal of No. 12 tunnel (which today has been bypassed) inscribed "Completed 1886" together with names of various officials including Samuel Brown
Brown was a wood and coal merchant of Wellington who laid down the first tramway in the city. He was a prominent councillor and Mayor 1887-88. There is today a simple monument to his memory in the form of a tall light standard at the corner of Featherston Street and Lambton Quay presented by him to commemorate the lighting of Wellington's streets by electricity in 1888.
The West Coast Route, being completed to Foxton a contract for locomotives was let to the Lion Foundry which was situated on the site of today's Supreme Court. Wellington. Partners in the foundry were E. .W. Mills and William Cable who built the first three 8-ton locomotives for the Public Works Department (the forerunner of N Z. Railways) which took over from those who built the line. W. Mills was a member of N.Z. Pacific Lodge. Later the partnership was dissolved and Mills concentrated on building up a large hardware business. He built a large home in Aurora Terrace, Wellington now Sayes Court Private Hotel. William Cable was not a Freemason, the firm of engineers founded from the Lion Foundry is still in existence as William Cable Ltd..
The street Lion Foundry stood on is today known as Stout Street, named after a prominent legal figure of Wellington, Sir Robert Stout who created perhaps one of the first major headaches for the newly formed Grand lodge of New Zealand In 1890 Rt Wor. Bro. Robert Stout with several other prominent Freemasons formed a lodge In Wellington under the Grand Orient of France. Because this body eliminated belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, neither New Zealand or English Constitutions recognised the Lodges which were under the Grand Orient of France control.
Sir Robert was a Mason holding the Rank of Past Deputy District Grand Master of Otago and Southland under the English Constitution. By resolution of the latter body he was deprived of his rank in March 1891 but Stout had resigned from all Masonic activity before the United Grand Lodge of England's resolution was effective
Stout's lodge in New Zealand was Dunedin Lodge No. 93. Shortly after this incident (which incidentally, is quoted at length in Masonic Jurisprudence) as Premier of New Zealand, he, at the request of Maoris, introduced liquor prohibition in the King Country as railway construction was entering the area
One of Wellington's early railways was most important (socially if not commercially), that which carried race goers of the 1880s to the Hutt Park Race Course. from Petone.. This line was proposed as early as 1874 but failed to gain support from a Royal Commission set up to investigate the claims. By 1883 the Hutt Park Race Course faced rivalry from the Island Bay Race Course with a planned extension of the city's tramway. Incensed Hutt Valley residents, with some local racing club officials, formed the Hutt Park Railway Company, whose first secretary was Horatio M. Lyons born in Wellington in 1851. He became the first native born New Zealander to. become Master of N.Z. Pacific Lodge. He was the son of the Lodges first Junior Warden. Father and son were in the stationery and printing establishment of Lyons &: Blair predecessor of today's Whitcoulls. H. M. Lyons later became a District Grand Director of Ceremonies and a foundation member of Leinster Lodge No.44 New Zealand Constitution.
The railway to Hutt Park was built along the foreshore of Petone Beach and was frequently washed away by heavy seas. Each train ran through to Wellington with the Government supplying trains and collecting fares. The line was constructed in 38 days, presumably to meet a deadline for a race meeting. The rails used had been salvaged from the "Lastingham" wrecked In a N. W. . gale on Cape Jackson on ~ September 1884. It ;is not known exactly when the line was abandoned. It must have operated till at least 1906, when the Hutt Park Company was taken over by local bodies.
At the Christmas meeting 1930, of Lower Hutt Lodge No.299 the Prov. Grand Master Rt. Wor. Bro. E. J. Guiness was presented with a stone to use as a foundation stone for the proposed Wellington station. On 19th December, 1934 Rt. Wor. Bro. E J. Guiness, with permission of Wor. Bro. H. H. Sterling, Chairman of N.Z.R. Board Of Management and Bro. Andrew Fletcher, Principal of the Contractors Fletcher Construction Coy. laid a New Zealand marble facing Stone within the North East foundation; with it was deposited the following:
A book containing records and signatures of those present
An autographed Installation Programme of M. Wor. Bro. Colonel J. J Esson as Grand Master 28th November, 1934,
and a photograph of him in Grand Lodge regalia
Book of Proceedings of Grand Lodge 1934.
Installation Programme 15th. June, 1934 and a summons for December, 1934 of Lower Hutt Lodge No.. 299.
A December 1934 copy of the N.Z. Craftsman.
The whole was placed in a copper container with preservative wax and hermetically sealed and placed in the concrete of the station foundations.
When the construction of the station was well advanced another meeting was convened by Rt. Wor Bro. Guiness (then Controller of Stores N.Z. Railways). It was held in a tool shed on the site at which certain items of Masonic interest were presented to the contractors for incorporation in the building. One of these was a large block of stone from Solomon's Quarries in Palestine. Where this and other items were placed in the building is unknown, most probably in the vicinity of a stone laid at the opening of the Station on 19th June, 1937 by Lord Galway Governor General of New Zealand who at the time was Grand Master. Rt. Wor. Bro. Edward J. Guiness mentioned above became Grand Master of New Zealand in 1950; he was a railwayman, retiring as Stores Controller. He was initiated in Hinemoa Lodge No.122 on 19th December, 1901, a Foundation member of Lodge Waiwhetu No.176 in 1910 and Master 1914 and also Master of the Research Lodge of Wellington in 1930.. In all he was Foundation Member of six lodges in New Zealand including Lower Hutt Lodge No.299 to which he presented a set of gavels made at the Hutt Railway Workshops at Woburn. Iin 1925 he was Grand Director of Ceremonies and for two years 1926-27, was President of the Board of General Purposes. From 1928-36 Provincial Grand Master of Wellington and Deputy Grand Master in 1945.
M.W. Bro. Guiness was a life-time student of Freemasonry and as such was a valuable member of the Ritual Committee which examined and revised the Ritual in the 1930s. In his term as Grand Master bursary regulations were liberalised and levies introduced by the Board of General Purposes prior to which the financial status of Grand Lodge was in a bad state due to extensive property alterations of the Grand Lodge buildings and subsidies for food parcels to Britain.
M.W. Bro. E. J. Guiness died in Levin 3rd August, 1963, aged 86 years.
One of the first railroads built in New Zealand was Christchurch - Ferrymead line with a gauge of 5ft 3in in 1863. Soon all Canterbury's lines were extended using 5ft 3in gauge one most suitable to the Canterbury Plains but not acceptable to other parts of the country and thus begun the Battle of The Gauges which was eventually won by a Freemason, Francis Dillon Bell. In 1876 he inspected the 3ft 6in gauge at Festiniog, North Wales and was so impressed with it he considered it the answer to New Zealand's gauge problems. Bell had a most winning way with him, his influence was such the Government chose his recommendations.
As a Mason Bro. F. Dillon Bell was initiated into Lodge of Wellington 1st November, 1875, became a Senior Deacon but a busy political life prevented his advancing to Master. He affiliated with Lodge Waterloo No.13, 8th January, 1894. and shortly after was proposed as Grand Master. Not being a Past Master made this difficult and a controversy arose over the proposal, particularly from Otago. However, proof was produced to prove no precedent was set. Bell was made Grand Master in 1894 and proved to be an ideal choice thanks to his pleasing personality.
When he went to the United Kingdom in 1896 he laid the path for the United Grand Lodge of England to recognise the Grand Lodge of New Zealand.
The choice of the gauges has a sequel.. When the 3ft 6in gauge was adopted in New Zealand the rolling stock and locomotives of Canterbury's broad gauge railway were sold to the South Australia Railways. Nine engines, 22 carriages and three hundred wagons were shipped in the sailing ship "Hydrabad", which, while sheltering behind Kapiti Island in a N.N.W. gale was driven a shore between Otaki and Foxton. Attempts to refloat her failed, her cargo was transferred to Kapiti Island and from there finally shipped to Adelaide. The remains of "Hydrabad" can still be seen on the beach.
When M. W. Bro. W. F. Massey ( after whom Lodge William Fergusson Massey is named ) went to Australia as Prime Minister of New Zealand, Australian Railway Returned Servicemen presented him with a very large hand-worked silk Australian Ensign. He was requested to give it to their railway counterparts in New Zealand. That Massey did. He expressed the wish it was to be used on a flag staff which was made of New Zealand and Australian wood at the Petone Railway Station. In actual fact the flag was never used for that purpose, being far too large. Today the flag is carefully preserved and in the possession of a Wellingtonian.
An early rail road constructor was Joseph Crisp who died 1901 aged 93 years. He worked under contract with the Public Works Department on lines in Blenheim. and Picton and laid the centre rail on the Rimutaka Incline. Most of the West Coast coal for rail in Wellington came over the old Railway Wharf which, until 1976, was the Lyttelton Wellington Ferry Wharf. Crisp eventually became Inspector of Permanent Ways at Gore where he retired. He was initiated in Lodge Wairoa, No.55 Auckland, affiliated to Lodge St Andrews No.8 and also Lodge Taringatura Lodge No.100 Lumsden becoming Master of the latter in 1896 at the age of 88 years.. In retirement he was a member of Lodge Harvey No.49, Gore.
There are lodges in the Wellington area popular with railwaymen. Lodge Kotutu No. 392 had 16 of its Foundation Members. When the Now Zealand Railways moved their workshops to Woburn so many railwaymen joined Lodge Jellicoe No. 259 it perhaps would have been more appropriate to have named the lodge after a railwayman and not a sailor. It was the practice of No.259 in the 1920s and 1930s to print in lodge notices the Wellington-Petone Rail Time Tables. Interestingly enough the last trains left Petone at 10.39 p.m. which precluded long drawn out refectory proceedings..
The first Master of Lodge Jeilicoe was General Manager of the N.Z. Railways 1919~28, V. Wor. Bro. R. W. McViIly P.O.G.R. (E..C.), P.G.T.
He was also Master, in 1937-38 and Deputy Master of the lodge for seventeen years. An initiate of Lodge Waikouaiti No.2115 E. C. in 1886, transfers brought him to Dunedin whom he joined Lodge of Otago No.844 F.. C to become its Master on two occasions 1890 and 1892. VW.. Bro. McVilly took an active interest in Royal Arch Freemasonry, Knight Templars, Cryptic Order and Red Cross of Consantine. In his honour McVilly RAC. No.85, Trentham was constituted in 1948. It was out of his moves that the Hutt Valley Board of Enquiry first operated. In 1934 he was appointed Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand.
At the Christmas meeting of Lodge Jellicee a presentation was made of a set of glasses to V.W. Bro. McVilly to mark his 60 years a Freemason. Shortly after he was presented with a ten year bar to his Fifty Year Service Badge. He died Wellington 1949.
The name of Peterkin conjures up rail and Masonic interests in Wellington. In 1857 Thomas Alexander Peterkin was apprenticed to the "'trade business or calling" of an Engine fitter and turner at the Wolverton Works of the then London and North Western Railway, England. He was born in London 1839 and in 1869 arrived in Geelong to become foreman in the Vulcan Foundry. After three years there he went to all manner of engineering works, gaining greatly in practical experience. He worked on gold mining, meat freezing, gas and water installation projects and even became an engineer in a cable ship. He came to New Zealand 1876 and in June of the following year was appointed Manager of the Westport section of New Zealand Railways.
T. A. Peterkin was a Freemason before he arrived in New Zealand and became a member of Lodge Phoenix No.1690 E.C
In September 1880 be took up position as Manager of the Canterbury Tramway Company and three years later became Works Manager of the newly formed Addington Railway Workshops. Whilst in Christchurch T. A Peterkin became closely involved with Lodge Concord. now No. 39 N.Z.C which met at Papanui. He saw adequate tram transport was provided to enable city brethren to attend meetings with regularity and not use the excuse of having no transport.
In 1885 he transferred to Hillside and later returned to Westport for seven years and in 1897 was promoted Locomotive Engineer at Petone Workshops holding this position till retirement in 1905. On retirement he lived Ii, Lower Hutt serving as Mayor 1907.. 09.
He was a foundation member of Lodge Waiwhetu No.176 and joined N.Z. Pacific No. 2 in April, 1906. He became Grand Steward 1893 Junior Grand Warden 1894 and held the office of Provincial Grand Master of Wellington 1912 -15. A particularly affable brother and a very hard worker in everything he undertook. A stickler for correct and strict adherence to the ritual. He died 13 June 1925 aged 86.
His son Alexander Thomas Peterkin was also a wonderful ritualist . He was born in Aylesbury Bucks on 27"' January, 1866, and like his father became a railwayman spending most of his working life with the N.Z. Railways on the West Coast of the South Island.
Initiated Phoenix Lodge No.1690 E.C Westport in 1891. A charter member of Kawatiri Westport Lodge No.152 In 1907 becoming its Master In 1913. Came to Wellington to join Jellicoe No. 259 and held the office of Chaplain for 34 consecutive years. A Grand Steward in 1937 and Past Grand Chaplain In 1952. In 1942 his lodge presented him with an appropriate jewel to mark his services as Chaplain and also his fifty years in Freemasonry. He was particularly interested in the Royal Arch Order a foundation member of Bledisloe Chapter and became a P.D.G.Z.
As a young man V. Wor. Bro. A. T. Peterkin was an athlete of no mean ability. He died as the result of an accident on 16 October, 1961, aged 96, years.
The Main trunk Line was completed whilst His Excellency Lord Plunket Most Worshipful Grand Master and also Governor of New Zealand. Before he left New Zealand, at the termination of his being Governor General, the Freemasons presented him with a set of silver plate at the Annual Communication, 11th May, 1910. In one of the panels of this plate is a train placed there to commemorate the Main Trunk Lines completion. Lord Plunket was one of the line's most distinguished passengers in it's early operation.
Working on this line as a Junior Engineer in the King Country was one Frederick Furkert who later became Commissioner of Works. He became a member and Master of Raukawa Lodge No.229, Wellington. On his retirement W. Bro. Furkert visited the Middle East where on investigation he maintained that it was at the building of the Pyramids that the first railway was used for a practical purpose, in that the stone blocks were taken to the site by being man handled along wooden rails.
Train services have been suitably organised to fit in with Masonic occasions. Time Tables have been suitably adjusted in Lyttelton, Port Chalmers, Bluff and Denniston to guarantee brethren transport to and from lodge.
On one occasion a train was held up to assist brethren of Coronation Lodge No.127. The brethren chose to travel in a coal-fired train from Johnsonville to Wellington. There were some blackened faces and stiff fronted shirts on arrival thanks to the five tunnels en route. Coronation Lodge chose to meet originally Saturday on or before the full moon ~s this was the one night of the week a late train left Wellington for Paekakariki as late as 11.00 p.m.
W. Bro E. W. Aickin was General Manager N.Z. Railways 1948-51. As Master elect of Raukawa Lodge No.224 in 1940 Bro. Aickin was In Hopu Hopu Military Camp prior to going overseas with the N.Z. Railways Operating Group To get the Master-elect to his Installation the Limited Express made an unscheduled stop at the camp southbound and also north-bound 24 hours later. Railway Regulations of the time called for a fine of £10 ($20) for such a misdemeanour. Furthermore, and technically speaking, the new Worshipful Master was A.W.OL on Masonic business
Freemasons played a very prominent part in establishing rail in Canterbury with a line from Ferrymead to Christchurch -the first railway in the country
In 1857 William Sefton Moorhouse, a lawyer, became Superintendent of Canterbury and in the following year formed a Commission to establish a rail link between Lyttelton and Christchurch. The scheme was approved and the first sod was turned for the Lytteton Tunnel, 17th July, 1861. However it was felt a direct link was necessary before the tunnel was pierced so the Christchurch-Ferrymead line was opened 1st December, 1863, while the Lyttelton line was still under construction. Four years later to the day the tunnel was completed thus giving direct access to the Port of Lyttelton and Ferrymead was abandoned.
It was the drive and foresight of Moorhouse that gave Canterbury the through connection and from this beginning the rail system in the province expanded to the commercial advantage of Canterbury. As a gesture of appreciation the colonists named the tunnel after Moorhouse, a name that has long since been discontinued but he is remembered by the Avenue in Christchurch bearing his name - Moorhouse Avenue on which the Christchurch Railway Station stands. Wellington also remembers him in street names, Sefton and Moorhouse Streets of Wadestown are named after him. There is in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens a statue to his memory so placed it faces the entrance of the tunnel he saw built.
Moorhouse can be described as a fanatical railwayman, he earned the nickname of "Railway Billy" and once in reply to a toast stated "he hoped one day to send a clerk to Timer from Christchurch after breakfast with instructions to return home for tea",. This was greeted with incredulous laughter yet Moorhouse lived to see it done.
Bro. W. S. Moorhouse was initiated in St Augustine Lodge No 609 E.C. (now No.4, N.Z.C..) in May, 1856. When the Provincial Grand Lodge of Canterbury was formed in July,1859, Moorhouse was a Provincial Grand Steward.
Another Provincial Grand Steward at that meeting was John Ollivier, a member of St. Augustine Lodge, who-was closely associated with the Moorhouse Tunnel project. Under Moorhouse he became Secretary of the Provincial Council. He too was farsighted enough to attempt to introduce trams to Christchurch but could not win council approval. He was one given to good public relations, always carrying a huge, pocket of sweets which he distributed to children at the right time to win parental. support in his projects. He died 1893, his name being perpetuated in Olliviers Road. Christchurch.
William Rolleston was Moorhouse's political rival, a man who should have been a good railwayman but was not. He was a dyed in the wool Provincialist who opposed the, adoption of a national gauge of 3ft. 6in to replace Canterbury's 5ft 3in. Rolleston argued. that the Canterbury scheme was not conceived as part of the national system.. He became Superintendent of Canterbury in 1868 remaining in office till the last years of Provincial Government. One of his last public acts in office, was to lay-the foundation stone of the old Christchurch Station on 22nd November, 1876. When it was built it was described as the most perfect one in New Zealand and cost £7072 ($14,144).
A statue to his memory stands outside the Canterbury Museum on the avenue named after him. The junction to the West Coast Line in Canterbury bears his name.
William Rolleston was initiated into Freemasonry 3 June, 1869, at St Augustine Lodge Room. The. ceremony was conducted by Rt. Wor. Bro. William Donald, then District Grand Master, in the presence of forty members of St Augustine Lodge and 20 visitors. Donald in his younger days had been a surgeon attached to a railway construction contractor in Wales and France. Whilst in France he, was initiated into a French Lodge in Rouen called Constance Epronve. He was a keen dedicated Freemason, a Foundation Member of Lodge of Unanimity, Lyttelton, and District Grand Master from 1868 till his death in 1884.
The Lyttelton Tunnel was officially opened on 1st December, 1867. The tunnellers did not think highly of Rolleston and particularly so when he violently objected to the. tunnellers daily rate being raised from 80c to 90c. The first official to walk from portal to portal of the tunnel was C M. Igglesden who arrived in New Zealand in 1856 in the schooner "Emerald" commanded by one Captain Henry Thomson (afterwards M.W. Bro. the first Grand Master of New Zealand).
Igglesden was an architect, surveyor and civil engineer. As Resident Engineer in the Provincial Government he supervised the tunnel's construction and also the eastern breakwater of Lyttelton inner harbour. He later entered Government Service i~ Nelson and Wellington retiring in 1903 in latter city where he died as the result of an accident on Kelburn Cable Tramway in April, 1920.
Igglesden was initiated in Lodge of Unanimity No.604, in January 1863, in Wellington he joined N.Z. Pacific to become Master 1875 and later Secretary of the Lodge. In 1876 he was District Grand Secretary for the North Island. His secretarial records are noted for their neatness. In 1879 he was Grand Registrar and District Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1882.
The Lyttelton railway tunnel was constructed by George Holmes. He built a house which still stands in St Vincent Place, Opawa, reinforcing it with rails used by the Lyttelton tunnellers. Close by is the Opawa Railway Station on the Lyttelton line, on this site Bro. C. J. Bridge, an initiate of St Augustine Lodge, built his farm house. He later sold up bought land near a township which he laid out and gave it his name Southbridge, where the Lodge of Progress, now No.22 N.Z.C., was formed in 1875 with Bridge one of the Foundation Members.
With the establishment of rail in Canterbury, John Marshman, who was accountant to the Canterbury Association, was appointed Secretary of Railway with Henry Thomson, Traffic Manager. Marshman came to N. Z, . a Freemason, his name is on the Original warrant of Lodge of Unanimity No.604 although be does not appear to have taken an active part in that lodge, instead he became a member of St Augustine Lodge No.609 at its Consecration Meeting, 19th October, 1853.
When Henry Thomson was appointed Traffic Manager he was a member of No.609, in 1890 he became Grand Master, the first under the New Zealand Constitution. As a Traffic Manager he was not a success, apparently he was guilty of ineffectual management, poor utilisation of rolling stock, trucks stood for weeks with no demurrage charges made. Thomson's services were dispensed with within a year of his appointment, that is in 1869. He joined a firm of jewellers, Coates and Company renowned for its Masonic jewels, in Christchurch, married the owner's daughter and managed the business successfully.
Thomson's Canterbury rail experience was not his first in this field. At the age of 18 he was employed on the Liverpool-Manchester Railway and from 1852 spent four years in Australia associated with railway construction.
John Marshman was appointed Manager of Canterbury's Railways. when Rolleston became Superintendent of the province. The five and one half years of Marshman were very difficult ones. He held a Surveyors Diploma and was a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers in addition to his accountancy qualifications. In management capacity he clashed with everyone: engineers' executive, staff and superintendent. He was a most competent man, a good administrator but dictatorial in manner, tinged with a streak of obstinacy.. He was a bigoted supporter of the 5ft 3in gauge on which issue he was adamantly unreasonable. However, he insisted on the original railway stations of Christchurch and Lyttelton having covered platforms. He also insisted that platforms should be large enough to handle arrivals and departures at the same time. Both were forward steps for the day.
Marshman's presence led to an obvious lack of concord throughout the whole rail system. Thanks to constant bickering and conflicts he resigned 31st December, 1873, much to everyone's relief. Marshman's era of management made it clear that the spheres of operational engineering and traffic management were different. On his departure these responsibilities were divided for the first time in New Zealand's rail history.
On his resignation. he rented a small farm on the corner of what today is Barrington Street and Lincoln Road, to the west, calling it Wilderness Farm from the swamps in the vicinity. Originally Barrington Street was called Wilderness Road.
On the other side of this comer (i.e. to the east) was a farm that extended to the Heathcote River at the foot of Cashmere Hills, W. S. Moorhouse owned this farm calling it Spreydon after English associations. Hence the name of today's suburb of Spreydon.
On the West Coast railway line is a small railway station called Cass named after Thomas Cass, a surveyor, who was responsible for the main surveys of Canterbury Plains, thus laying the foundation for future rail plans. With Marshman, he joined St Augustines at the Consecration Meeting of 1853 and in 1859 became the first Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies He died in 1895.
William Coop became an initiate of Akaroa Lodge No. 1666 E. C. in 1877. He established a saw mill in Little River on the site later occupied by the railway station. His timber was taken by tramline to Lake Forsyth to be rafted or punted across the water to another tramline to Birdlings Flat, thence by raft or punt across Lake Ellesmere to Strong Point, along Ninety Mile Beach to Hart Creek and thence to Leeston for distribution to Canterbury. The old Rakaia rail/road bridge was built of timber from Coop's Mill..
With William Guise Brittan, Coop started building a tramway from Christchurch to Little River to make the distribution cheaper and more convenient. They got as far as Halswell when they ran into financial problems. The tramway was of black pine sleepers and double wooden rails 5.x 2. lI2iin. The existing track was sold to the Christchurch City Council who used it to transport road metal from the Halswell Quarries for use on early city streets. Brittan was an initiate of St Augustine Lodge. He was in charge of the Land Office which stood on the north-west corner of Oxford Terrace and Worcester Street with Brittan's home opposite on the site of today's Clarendon Hotel.
Brittan was so impressed with Freemasonry that shortly after his initiation he presented St Augustine Lodge with a section of land in Hereford Street (where today's Post Office Savings Bank stands) and there the first permanent lodge room in Christchurch was built.
A Lodge in New Zealand has been named after a railway man. Conyers Lodge No.1916 E.C. originally of Sydenham (known in the 1870s as Railtown), Christchurch. William Conyers was manager of the Otago Railways from 1872 and from 1877-81 Commissioner for Railways for Middle Island (South Island). On 22nd January, 1879, he was severely injured at Gore at the opening of the through line from Dunedin to Invercargill. Whilst the train was in motion he leaned out of the locomotive and struck a projection from a water tank. He retired, from the railways shortly after this accident.
John Joyce, the first Master of Conyers Lodge, knew and respected Conyers so much so he suggested the lodge be named after him. Of Conyers little is known; there was a William Conyers Master of Southern Cross Lodge No.997 E.C. Invercargill in 1871
As Commissioner of Railways, Conyers organised trains to suit Masonic events. When F W. Thiel, a very prominent Freemason of Christchurch, was buried at the Barbadoes Street Cemetery on Sunday, 31st March, 1878, brethren were able to travel by a special train from as far away as Timaru and Ashburton, organised by Conyers.
Construction of rail in New Zealand brought about much social abuse, which was, to some e4ent, checked by a Freemason, William Pember Reeves an initiate of Conyer's Lodge in February. 1894. He was the author of the famous "Long White Cloud" and Minister of Labour in the Seddon Government. He drew up the specifications for the building of the Southern Railway Line. In this he demanded contractors pay labour full wages in the coin of the realm and that wages be paid on the work site or a convenient building: not a public house. Nor were contractors allowed to set up any shop for the supply of clothing, provisions. food or liquor, thus eliminating the Tommy Shop racket.
There is in the rail story of New Zealand a nautical influence. The first guard on the first through train from Dunedin to Lyttelton was a former sailor James Kay, settled in Oamaru, where he joined Oamaru Kilwinning Lodge No.82 in the late 1870s.
On 9th March, 1892, in a thick fog the S. S. "Elginshire" went a shore five miles south of Timaru, thanks to a faulty compass. At one stage the vessel was so close to shore the Captain asked a railwayman standing on Kingsdown Station where they were. Whether the Porter told the Master the information he sought is unknown, but within seconds. the ship grounded to become a total loss. The reef she went ashore on bears the name of Elginshire. A gavel has been fashioned from her timber for use on visits between Lodge Timaru No.196 and St Martins Lodge No.162 Pleasant Point.
Lake Lodge of Ophir No.85 Queenstown has affiliations with N.Z. Railways through their operation of the lake steamers on Lake Wakatipu , Antrim "Mountaineer", "Ben Lomond" and until recently "Earnslaw." Freemasons manned these vessels, at one time it would have been possible to have opened a lodge on board by calling on the staff. Over the years there were the following Masters of Lodge and shipJames Farrant on the "Antrim"' Master of No.85 in 1898.
Thomas Luckie of "Earnslaw", Master 1943.
Alex Burns, Mate of "Earnslaw", Master 1944
Chief Engineer Mclnnes and Walter Hales, firemen, both of "Earislaw", Master 1923 and
1937. Whilst in the N.Z.R.'s Shipping Office was the clerk George F. Gibbs for many years
Secretary of Lake Lodge Ophir and Master 1895.
On 8th June, 1973 there died in Timaru Bro. Ernie E. Butt thought at that time to be the oldest subscribing member of the Craft in New Zealand aged 94. He was initiated 10th July, 1901, in Lodge of Otago, No.7 and remained a member until his death although his constant movement prevented him from taking office. Bro. Butt joined the railway at the age of 14 and fired steam locomotives over the Rimutaka Range.
Walter Hannay arrived in New Zealand in 1876 after having lived in America for some years. In New Zealand he joined the railways as a clerk in Lyttelton and later became stationmaster at Bluff. Whilst there he was instrumental in forming a lodge which he named after his Mother Lodge Fortitude in Brooklyn, New York.
Richard John Seddon. Grand Master of New Zealand, 1898, is better known as a politician but he did have railway experience as a fitter and turner at the Railway Workshops at Williamstown, near Melbourne. Seddon could see little future in rail or Australia so left for the gold rush in 1866 for Hokitika and thus laid the foundations of his New Zealand career.
He was initiated in Pacific Lodge of Hokitika No.1229 E.C. in 1868.
Lodge Aorangi No.89 E.C Denniston (now defunct) was formed in 1893 with a railway man T. A. Peterkin its first Master. Denniston is a coal bearing plateau 2000 feet above sea level six miles from Waimangaroa and the latter 18 miles from Westport. To attend the lodge it was perhaps a coincidence that at certain times, and on convenient dates, a coal train complete with passenger accommodation was always provided from Westport. Then from Waimangaroa to Denniston, 2000 feet up it was either by horse or foot. It was possible to lure a horse at Waimangaroa for the upward journey thence it would return alone in hopes of finding no others to go up the hill. History does not record how the brethren made the descent.
In 1876 a cable was laid from Cable Bay, some 12 miles from Nelson to Australia by two cable ships "Hibernia" and Edinburgh". Freemasons were on board these vessels and were soon looked after by the brethren of Southern Star Lodge No 735 E.C.
Special Lodge meetings were held, sumptuous refectory proceedings and reciprocal entertainment on board for the citizens of Nelson. Finally a picnic was held at Wakefield with a special pleasure train laid on by the managers of the Nelson and Fox Hill Railway. A fitting finale for the cable layers.
Patea Kilwinning Lodge was originally No 536 S.C. founded in 1870 by mainly the Military and Armed Constabulary Forces. With more peaceful days with the Maori these forces dispersed but took a new lease of life with an influx of members from contractors and rail officials. With the completion of the railway the population was depleted with the Lodge again suffering heavily.
On the Waihi gold field a Lodge Waihi No 112 was formed in 1898. Life and interest centred on the gold mine, with poor transport one of the most important employees of the mines were the engine drivers.
In the community the feelings between Roman Catholics and Protestants were bitter to a stage where Masons were running the mines as most of the engine drivers, were members of Lodge Waihi. Small things made feelings continue to smoulder such as the winding engine driver stopped the cage at a level he knew his brethren were working and bring them to the surface ten minutes early to take advantage of showers and earlier transport on Lodge night. These brethren when approached to form a new lodge refused permission making sure they kept Masonic control of Waihi.
Railway Craftsmen's Associations play their part in New Zealand's Masonic life. Over the years meetings of railwaymen and Superannuitants in Freemasonry have been held in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington Christchurch and Dunedin.
Generally meetings are held annually under the charter of a host lodge with, if possible, the Master being a railway man. Grand Lodge of New Zealand has directed that as associations do not hold charters of their own it is not proper for them to work degrees although brethren can assist in such working providing the host lodge's Master retains control.
The objects of the association are: To further the teachings and aims of Freemasonry among railway brethren; to meet one or more times a year; To encourage railway brethren to maintain an interest in their respective lodges and in the Craft in general.
Early in June, 1940, the British Government requested New Zealand to provide Railway Operating Companies for service overseas. The Railways Department undertook recruiting throughout the country. By mid 1940 men assembled at Hopu Hopu Camp near Ngaruawahia. Two companies were formed the 16th recruited from the North Island under the command of W. Bro. Major F. W. Aickin and the 17th Company from the South Island commanded by Major A. H. Sage.
Originally they were to have been sent to Canada to train with railwaymen there but when France fell and this scheme abandoned with War Office suggesting a Group Headquarters and two operating companies as provided by British War Establishment.
Major Sage commanded this group with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and Bro. Major G. T. Poole, formerly 2ic No.16 Coy. promoted to command the 17th Company.
In all, some 850 railwaymen joined the Group. The original number of 754 plus reinforcements. They left New Zealand in the "Empress of Japan", 27th August, 1940 arriving at Suez, 29th September. Whilst at sea in the troopship, the Master of the vessel Bro. Captain Martin who had at that time been recently raised, organised a Masonic dinner. W. Bro. Aicken, a very new Worshipful Master of Raukawa Lodge No.224 sat on Bro. Martin's right with a Public Works Civil Engineer, W. Bro. Lieut. Colonel Trevor Smith, who commanded the: 13th Railway Construction Coy. on Bro. Martins left. In all some 45 military and 25 seafaring brethren attended this function.
Within three weeks of arrival the Group was in operation with the Western Desert Force and later the 8th Army and also operated railways in Palestine and Syria Sixty railwaymen worked in Tobruk in the first siege and so qualified for the Rats of Tobruk Association.
On March 20,1943 the Group withdrew, handing over to the British and on the 15th June, 1943, they embarked on the "Niew Amsterdam" at Suez with 2nd N.Z.E.:F. Furlough draft arriving in New Zealand 12th July, 1943, and after leave the group disbanded.
Freemasons have held high positions in N.Z. Railways, amongst these being:General Managers.Footnote: This paper was prepared by the late V.W. Bro. Pugh-Williams Past Grand Lecturer. and it took him five years to prepare the paper and on completion he had written to 127 different.persons for information. A true case of complete dedication to ones position.
Rt. Wor. Bro. R. W. McVilly P.G.T 1919-28
W. Bro. H. H. Sterling P.M. 1928~35.
Bro. G. H. Mackey 1936-39.
Bro. J. Sawers 1944~48.
W. Bro. F.W. Aickman P.M. 1948-51.
Chairman of Railways Commission:
Bro. W. E. Hodges Bro. A.
Again: Pugh Williams
Some years ago the Master of Piako Lodge No. 160, Morrinsville was an Engine driver. Every lodge night would see him drive his train extremely fast so much that the wagons almost leapt off the tracks. His fireman drew this to the driver's attention to which the driver retorted: "Your job is to look ahead, not to the rear. Do as you are instructed'.
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