The First Car Comes to Christchurch

A Ride Through Christchurch. First Impressions

The Motor Car. Star, Issue 6942, 3 November 1900, Page 4

Yesterday, Mr Skeates, of the firm of Messrs Skeates, Bockaert and Co., of Auckland, courteously offered to take a representative of this journal for a ride on his motor-car. The offer was received with some misgivings, as the appearance of the uncanny creature, as she stood puffing outside, was anything but reassuring, but it was, in the interests of duty and out of natural love for excitement, promptly accepted. As we took our seats, trying to look as happy as possible under the circumstances, we formed the subject of attraction for a crowd of onlookers, in which the juvenile element was annoyingly preponderant, and the few minutes that elapsed before we got under weigh were filled with such exclamations as; “Got yer life insured?” “The two in the front seat (the reporter, was one of those) don’t look very safe if they meet a tram,” “Ain’t she beauty,“, “Where’s the bloomin’ donkeys,” the last question bringing a smart, if unkind rejoinder from another urchin, “in the cart o’ course.

However, Mr Skeates had been seated only a few moments when we started off. Slowly we crossed Colombo Street, with bell jingling out a warning to the commoner horse traffic, but once fairly into Gloucester Street, the driver turned on the tap, our steed gave a few forward plunges, almost imperceptible, and we were speeding along at a great rate. The route we chose was along Gloucester Street, towards the Museum, round to the Carlton Bridge, thence alongside the Park, and back via Riccarton Road. As we turned to the right, it was noticeable that the motor took the turn beautifully, and, passing along the River Road, we came to a unanimous conclusion that moting – the correct term, by the way – was one of the finest sports invented, and as a means of locomotion, was unrivalled.

We were travelling fast, there was no jolting or noticeable vibration, and as we seemed to glide along the back of the Park, in sheer exhilaration one of us asked, “What more is needed for perfection?” “Well,” said another, thoughtfully, “it seems to me that I want more of it. My sporting pulses have been aroused I feel that I should like to keep going faster and faster till we were being literally whirled through space.” “Let me down first,” was the prompt and unhesitating reply. As a matter of fact, Mr Skeates informed us that we were then travelling at the rate of twelve miles an hour. In deference to the Christchurch City Council by-laws, he has lowered the gear of the motor so that instead of possessing a speed potentiality of close on twenty miles an hour, it is temporarily reduced to twelve, and in the heart of the city goes at even slower rate. However, the comparatively moderate pace suited the majority, who did not share the speed-man’s yearnings, and as we sped along as charming a route as could well have been chosen, for the Park and the trees by the riverbank were looking their best, nothing was wanting to complete the pleasure of the ride. To be sure, we were the cynosure of all who were about, and pretty maids in gigs and others not so fortunate looked with envy on our up-to-date carriage, but this is by the way.

What was almost, as interesting was the behaviour of the horses we were continually passing. Out of dozens, the greater number treated us with supreme indifference; animals that have witnessed the evolution of the ubiquitous cycle are inured to all the possibilities of modern invention. One took the trouble, as we passed close by, to look inquiringly, as if to say, “Where’s my comrade, the horse?” Only one was found with sufficient ignorance and energy to mark the occasion by rearing up and then falling on its haunches, but on general principles it may here be observed that the advent of the motor is not at all likely to cause the average horse to take fright.

During the short time we were out, it was obvious that Mr Skeates had his motor under admirable control, and the element of danger never enters into the calculations of those who accompany him, once they are aboard. The car will accommodate four persons, and the motive power is obtained by benzine converted into gas and ignited by electricity. The owner claims that he can run at a cost of a penny a mile. [7]

The authorities will have to take some steps to see that the motor car riding which has just become popular does not take place to the detriment of the ordinary citizen. On Friday Mr Horsley, who was riding his cycle, had a very narrow escape; a motor car coming at a very rapid pace round a comer and obliging Mr Horsley to throw himself off his cycle to obviate serious injury. [8]

Mr Oates’ motor car left Christchurch at 10 o’clock yesterday for Timaru via Leeston and Geraldine. He was to stop at Temuka last night. [9]

Messrs Oaten and Carl, who left Christchurch by motor car. arrived at Timaru at 8.30 o’clock on Wednesday night. They experienced many incidents on the way, especially at Hinds and Winchester. Yesterday they interested tie Timaru people by driving about the streets, and returned to Christchurch by the express, the roads were too rough to drive back. [10]

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