"Nice to see the tearooms open again"
Tom Fergusson, Springfield, Canterbury
Once a coal town with two mines open during the 1870s, Springfield boasted seven shops and a Bank of New Zealand. The railway arrived in Springfield in 1880 and the Midland Railway Line's access to the coast didn't break through until the opening of the Otira Tunnel in the 1920s.
As this line was built in stages it enabled the Cobb and Co Stage coach, owned by Cassidy and Young to be based here for 50 years. This service carried on from where the train stopped for passengers, mail and freight through hardy conditions of floods and hair raising descents through the Alps to Hokitika during the gold mining days.The opening of the Otira Tunnel saw an increase in rail traffic and up to 70 rail staff were based in Springfield for many years. During this time the introduction of the KB steam engines was evident with six engines being specifically built for this section of track between Springfield and Arthur's Pass. They were the strongest engines built in the steam era.
Today the Midland Line is World famous for the Tranz Alpine Journey and stops in at the Springfield Railway Station daily to welcome people on board before following the spectacular Waimakariri Gorge and on to Greymouth.The Station was once the refreshment stop for thousands of passengers passing through Springfield. Remember the great railways pie or fruit cake and tea or coffee served up in the thick "never to break" railway cups. Even Rosie the old English sheep dog would come and meet the passengers for her daily pie.
Refresh Rooms over the years
"Rosie ' the pie eating dog!
The Waimakariri River has been used over the years for recreation including the early trials of Sir William Hamilton's jetboat in the early 1950s and is still widely used today with jet boating tours heading up the spectacular Waimak Gorge along with fishing, and the kayaking leg of the infamous Coast to Coast Event.
Coast to Coast Event
"Rewi Alley was born in Springfield on 2 December 1897 and was named after Rewi Maniapoto, a Maori chief famous for his resistance to the British military during the New Zealand Wars of the 1860's. In 1916 Alley koined the NZ Army and wa sent to serve in France. While there he met some Chinese men who had been sent to work for the Allied Armies. After the war Alley tried farming in New Zealand but then in 1927 he decided to go to China where he worked his adult life. You can visit his memorial which the Chinese carved out of limestone and also read about his life and history at the kiosk in the memorial park east end of Springfield."
Rewi Alley, Statue in Springfield made by the Chinese to commerate his work in China.
"Great to see where Grandmother was born. Lovely place."
Margaret, Perth, WA, Australia