Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Of Sheep and Porridge

While the knitting gets back on track we'll have a short word from our sponsors;

This is the prosperous little farming town of Gore, Southland, NZ. A Country Music Festival host, sister city to Tamworth, Australia and my birthplace.

In this photo we have a summary of what were the main industries of the town when I lived there. The railway, where my Dad worked as a Signal Man and Goods Yard Manager, the Creamoata Porridge factory and intensive sheep farming.

The Sheep is a Romney and the rolling green fields of the surrounding Southland countryside are full of them; in the fields, mobbed along the roads and being transported in the big red sheep trucks to the Mataura Freezing works. I'm not sure what their fleece would knit like but as their primary function was food it wasn't a big consideration.

A recent addition to this industrial and Agricultural mix is the sport of Trout Fishing. So as well as the Big Sheep, and the Big Sergeant Dan, the Creamoata man, we have The Big Fish. This has replaced the fountain that greeted the south-bound traveler just after they crossed the Bridge across the Mataura River .

I recall this site being the location of an old piece of WW1 Artillery and a fountain which sometimes froze mid flow, because of the wickedly cold frosts.

Unfortunately the Railway Station and the Signal box have well and truly been decimated - obliterated even. Instead of this quaint wooden building so typical of the small town stations of the Main South Line there is this:

an expanse of ashphalt and concrete relieved only by a tin shed no bigger than a bus stop.
I don't know when this bit of historical vandalism took place but I know my father would have been spinning in his grave. The big vacant stretch of ground to the right of the single remaining track was once filled with a shunting yard and a Goods Shed that was busy and noisy and full of railway trucks and workers.

It was a real shock to see how the site had been denuded of everything - leaving no reference of the major part it played in the the industrial and social history of the town; and it was a shock to me because it was an important part of my family's history.

Plus ├ža change...


M-H said...

I wrote a long comment on this the other morning and Blogger ate it. I didn't have time to rewrite it. Briefly - thanks for the return to childhood memories!

Swanknitter said...

Loved seeing the photos of origins. I dig knowing where people started as well as where they are now.