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Well it was an early start for me as I hopped on the plane to Invercargill for the AGM. The thing that struck me most when we were airborne was the dreadfully dry landscape below… I’ll bet that has changed in the last few weeks with all this rain we’ve had! It was very apparent as we flew over the "mainland" that the further south you went the greener it became… flying over Canterbury I thought it was very brown, but revised that to dirty grey when I saw how "brown" Otago was! The difference south of the Clutha River was just amazing and as we got just south of Gore the landscape turned to this lucious green that was just amazing in comparison to the previous provinces!
The plane touched down safely and after a short wait for my bag – I turned around to see Carville Stewart striding into the terminal… this I assumed, meant Eric had arrived to pick me up and I was correct! Ten minutes later we were at the venue, which was conveniently in the central city area. A quick round of "hellos" ensued as various club members were spotted unloading cars or setting up inside.
I dumped my enormous suitcase (conveniently filled with items for trade or sale plus my briefcase and clothes) and proceeded to check out the competition entries as they were laid out. Some very interesting pieces were on display.
Evan from Central Otago arrived with a BUCKET of the biggest Central Otago Cherries I have ever seen! I don’t eat Cherries so the rest of the crew were welcome to them! Fortunately he also brought a bucket of the most beautiful Central Otago Apricots and I was into them in a flash! DELICIOUS!! Thanks Evan!
I then conned Carville into driving me over to Ken Glass’s shop for a look-see. I have to admit I wondered if we were ever going to get there as Carville tested out whether it was "this street" or "that street"… but lo and behold there it was in front of us! Half an hour or so later I walked out with some 1-75 series Matchbox toys that will look good in my display cases at home. Because I was with Carville, who introduced himself to Ken, I received a small discount on the purchase price – so if in Ken’s make sure you let him know you are a member of the NZMVC.
It was then back to the venue for the start of the meeting. I had just enough time to pop down the road to buy some lunch and a desperately needed black coffee! Once devoured it was supplemented by a couple or more apricots!
The formal part of the meeting, as previously reported, went off without a hitch and was over in record time. Competition judging, started prior to the meeting, was then completed and the winners of each class were announced and presented with their trophies, albeit for a few moments until Eric gathered them all up again. The trophies were to be taken back to Otago for engraving and reissue to those who wished to display them in their homes for the year. Yours truly was nominated for the "Big Drip" award, due to my timely payment of a certain, absent Club Officer’s subscription so that he could continue in office!
We had a short period of "free time" in the late afternoon and a number of the "out of towners" were invited to see a local businessman’s full-size truck collection. What a treat! So many fantastic vehicles under one roof with associated displays of radiators, fuel equipment, etc. It was really great to see so many vehicles, still in their local liveries, set out in the buildings – and not just the usual marques but also those lovely old Fordsons, Bedfords and Scammels that ranged the roads in New Zealand just a few short years ago.
After this visit we still had a short time to "clean up" before a number of us reconvened for dinner at the local Working Men’s Club. I have to say that the premises were HUGE! Its good to see a venue such as this prepared to have a section that is open to the general public for an evening meal. And what a meal! – all you can eat for about $20 plus bar facilities. There was a lot of jaw movement at our table and plenty of interesting conversation ensued between mouthfuls!
The evening ended for me and a couple of others with an invitation to view one of the local’s collections. This was a further treat to top off a great day in the "Deep South" with, for me, some interesting Matchbox items to pour over including some particularly difficult and rare Yesteryears and the increasingly popular desk-top items such as ashtrays and pen stands! Some time after midnight we headed off to Eric’s caravan for some badly needed sleep!
Sunday saw us up, showered and the caravan hitched to Eric’s van in what we thought was plenty of time to allow a quick look at the new Southland Fire Service Museum Society’s new premises on the corner of Jed and Spey Streets. We were peeping through the windows when out came a couple of the members and they invited us in to look more closely at the exhibits which at the time had not yet been sorted out properly for display. As far as I can tell this appears to be standard practice as they were continually popping out to invite members of the public in to see around, despite the Museum not yet being "open to the public". March, I think, is the target opening date.
One of the others invited in turned out to be an English traveller who had been asked to take a look by his brother who had worked at the Dennis factory that had built the D12 vehicle sitting at the rear of the premises waiting on further restoration. I overheard Tony Turner (the Society’s President) telling him that it was one of only a few D12 series Dennis Fire Appliances in New Zealand, the majority were D8 series. This particular vehicle was originally used by the NZ Fire Service in the North Island before working its way down the country. It was eventually allocated to the Edendale Volunteers.
The Museum also had a few models and other memorabilia available for purchase. I managed to get three of the four different Lledo models the Society has commissioned over the years for inclusion in my collection. At $30 each the Society sells them as a fund-raising exercise.
The society can be contacted by writing to:
Southland Fire Service Museum Society
PO Box 192,
From there it was off to Wyndham to view PAUL THOMPSON’s collection. Paul recently relocated his collection of approximately 7000 models into a new garage at his home. The collection is available for viewing by appointment. We spent some time looking into the various cabinets and displays housed in the garage as well as scrutinising the displays of carded models hung on the rafters and every other available surface in the garage.
The associated barbecue was a big feed with plenty of good food to go round. Our heartfelt thanks go to Paul’s mum, Joy, for doing the cook up and feeding all those blokes!
From Paul’s it was off to Gore in Eric’s van with the caravan firmly hitched on the back. A short stop in Mataura for a squizz around the old township then on to Gore where we unhitched the caravan and popped up for a look at the Croydon Airfield where they restore old aircraft. We spent a good hour there looking closely a the fully restored planes and works in progress at the invitation of one of the men working in the restoration factory. Then we had a look a the proposed Croydon Historical Railway site where they plan to build a new line of approximately 36 miles running between Gore and Lumsden, complete with buildings etc. Not much to see but it will be interesting to keep an eye on progress.
Then it was back to Gore where I "jumped ship" and joined Howard Brockie for the trip up to Dunedin while Eric made his way up to Central Otago. My thanks to both Eric and Howard for the lift (necessary due to the lack of seats on any aircraft out of Invercargill until the Tuesday) and again to Howard for the bed on Sunday night. Monday was uneventful and somewhat boring really as I flew home to Wellington from Dunedin with my spoils from the weekend (thanks to Carville and Howard’s desire to quit a few more items from their collections). Said spoils were dutifully smuggled into my house and disappeared downstairs when the wife’s back was turned!
I think it has to be said again that Southland Branch and its members did a great job in organising this AGM and in organising events for participants to attend before and after the actual AGM. Special thanks to Steven Kelly, Fred Hawkes and Paul Thompson for the organinsation of the event and to all the other "Southlanders" who made us all feel most welcome true to the legendary hospitality of "The Deep South". If I’ve missed out thanking anyone please forgive me….
Ian Cousins, Wellington Branch