Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hawkeye 1920




In a flight of fancy a correspondent imagined what life would be like in Thames 50 years hence.  The 1970 of the writer's imagination was written by a 'Travelling Correspondent' for the 'New York Chimes.'

Thames by 1970 would be a city and Travelling Correspondent was aboard a 20,000 ton cruise liner named the 'Waihou'  approaching the Thames Harbour.  Liners were now driven by electricity which was sent out "in waves like the first crude attempts at wireless telegraphy."  From an airport at Coromandel a pilot aeroplane guided the liner up into the inner harbour.

The liner carried at least 100 Americans who were looking forward to the great tourist attraction of Thames - "the world renowned glory of the flame covered hill sides" - the pohutukawa tree.
As Thames came into view the sight that met them was one of pohutukawa flower covered hills above the white of breaking waves.  There were 40 miles of this 'fiery furnace' along the Thames Coast.  "These people here have certainly realised the value of a bright colour scheme," noted the correspondent admiringly.

 Pronouncing the trees name was difficult so each passenger was provided with a card with the name typewritten on it.  As a guide talked,  the card with the trees name on it was referred to.
The view put passengers in the best of humours and they were prepared to spend ridiculous sums on the wildest of Thames extravagances.  Thames shops had a prosperous appearance and were quite equal to those seen in the best of American cities.  Thames businessmen had realised it paid big dividends to spend money in producing an attractive environment.

'Hauraki Harbour', known all over Europe, America and the East, was a port handling the greatest annual amount of diary produce shipped through any one channel.  It was 110 acres in extent  and well equipped for the safe and swift dispatch of incredible quantities of butterfat.  The wharves were heaving with industry including  three English dairy freighters, a Japanese boat loading frozen mutton from the Coromandel  hills, two cruise liners,  ocean tramps of all descriptions and a busy river and coastal fleet.

The harbour was a "plain and simple piece of horse sense" - no great feat of engineering, yet living up to its reputation as "the busiest dairy port on the globe."
An outer sea wall encompassed about 2000 acres of the most industrious part of Thames city.  It was built on what was once mud flat-  the rents from this had paid for the harbour works.

Alongside the sea wall were the park like grounds of an aerodrome where airbuses landed from all corners of the district.  There was a half hour airbus to Auckland - a place not as well known as Thames although a good sized town.  There were regular services all over the Hauraki Plains, up to the mining district and down to the heart of the ranges "where the wealthy sheep farmers were learning what it feels like to have more dollars than you can use."

All the butterfat ranches had a family plane and a racing plane.  "These plains are a great place for planes," Travelling Correspondent reported before becoming completely carried away and adding - "There is more real money bubbling up out of every square inch of this country than could be picked off a similar area of Solomon's Temple and the treasure house of the Inca's."

As the trip into the future ended the correspondent  watched barges and liners leaving the harbour of the world famous district "deep laden with the butter and cheese that the New Yorker knows so well and the dried milk that London babies are crying for right now."


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(Source: Papers Past)

© Meghan Hawkes and Dead Cert 2013

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