Suggestions of a tramway or railway to The Point probably started to surface soon after Julius Vogel’s now-famous ‘Immigration and Public Works Act, 1870’ was passed by the General Assembly in September 1870. This Act, coupled with the ‘Railways Act, 1870,’ amongst other things set in motion the construction of certain railways in both the North and South Islands to open up new tracts of land which had previously been inaccessible to all but the bravest settlers. One of the railways scheduled under the 1870 Railways Act was that section between Timaru and Temuka, and in 1871 construction was started. A railway system promised fast (by 1870s standards) and reliable means of transport, both for passengers and goods, and no doubt the early settlers of The Point were very quick to realise the potential benefits to the township should such a system be brought there.
While the General Government was undertaking the construction of the ‘trunk’ lines, the Provincial Governments were largely responsible for the construction of any branch lines they saw fit to make, with the proviso that the General Government would ultimately take them over. In this way the Canterbury Provincial Government was providing money to build its own railway system fanning from Christchurch, and other branch lines that were from time to time proposed.
As far as public works in South Canterbury were concerned a Board entitled the Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works was created in 1867; being answerable and very much under the authority of the Canterbury Provincial Government. Therefore, any works that required attention in this region were generally delegated to the Board or Works to look after. This Board ceased to exist when the Provincial Governments were abolished in 1876.
In early 1872 the Provincial Council allocated, amongst other things, the sum of 5,000 Pound for the construction of a railway between Washdyke and Pleasant Point. In July of that year the Timaru Herald published a memorandum sent to Mr W. Rolleston (Superintendent of Canterbury) and the Hon. E.W. Stafford, M.H.R., which stated: ‘We the undersigned members of the Pleasant Point Farmer’s Club, and other residents interested in this district, desire to represent to you that the Provincial Government has voted the sum of 5,000 Pound towards a branch tramway, 8 miles in length, from the Washdyke Railway junction to Pleasant Point, on the grounds that the grain and wool products which would be thus carried, fully justify the undertaking. Also that a very large area of agricultural land not now within a days drayage (and absolute need for success in farming) would then become available for farmers and permanent settlement. And we wish to represent to you that the geographical position of this line of road, will necessitate its being the only means of exit for a large extent of back country. We therefore hope that in the furtherance of the interests of the district, you will think it proper to urge on the General Government, the advisability of including this branch line in the contracts now being arranged for railway works from The Washdyke to The Orari, this utilising the Provincial Government’s vote, and prompting the settlement and prosperity of this district.’
According to the Herald this memorandum had about 100 signatures. Although the memorandum sought the General Government’s assistance, it was the Provincial Government which would ultimately be dealing with the Washdyke to Pleasant Point Railway.
In October 1872 the Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works discussed the various monies that had been allocated to individual public works, finding that it did not have sufficient funds in any one project to get any of them off the ground. The Board forwarded their concerns on this subject to the Provincial Government and in due course the Board was informed: ‘That the Provincial Government would be glad to receive from the Board, any recommendations (accompanied with estimates of costs) they may consider fit to make with reference to the Public works in the district south of the Rangitata, either in connection with those already under charge of the Board, or such others as the Board may deem advantageous to the interests of the district.’ Naturally the Board members were more than happy to do this and at the November 1872 meeting drafted a list which included 17,600 Pound for the Point-Washdyke Railway. This sum was duly placed on the Estimates of the Provincial Government in December 1872 for the year ended 30th September 1873.
Following the allocation of funds and further communication with the Canterbury Provincial hierarchy the Board called for tenders for building the branch railway on 3lst March 1873, using plans and specifications drawn up by the Board’s Engineer, Mr G.M. Babington. However, due to the fact that negotiations were not completed with the landowner at Washdyke - over whose land the railway would cross - the contract was limited to the railway starting from the western side of the Main North Road, thus making it necessary to bring in all materials for the job by road!
The contract for the construction of the branch line was let by the Board, subject to the usual approval of the Provincial Government, on 8th May 1873 to Mr William White Jnr.; his tender price being 22,040 Pound 1/6d. At the time only 17,600 Pound had been allocated for this work, so another sum, this time 5,500 Pound, was appropriated by the Provincial Government on 12th June 1873. The Board of Works was advised of this by letter dated 19th June at their meeting of the 26th instant. However at this meeting a problem arose. Mr Babington had resigned as Engineer to the Board, and his successor, Mr T. Roberts, recommended that an alternation should be made in the plan from which the contractor had based his calculations so as to alter the site of the station at the township of Piko (Pleasant Point), and also the line of railway there so that a greater distance of road could be provided between certain town sectors and the railway line, as by Mr Babington’s plan only about 13 or 15 feet of roadway would be left. Unfortunately Babington’s plans have not survived so it is not possible to positively identify where he had planned to place the Pleasant Point railway station. Roberts also stated at the meeting that a fresh survey would be necessary for the Point Railway, which would take another six weeks to complete. Therefore the Board had to request Mr White to sign his contract with changes still to be made to the plans and specifications.
In September 1873 the General Assembly passed through Parliament ‘The Washdyke and Pleasant Point Railway Act, 1873,‘ which was, to quote the title: ‘An act to enable the Superintendent of the Province of Canterbury to construct a railway between the Washdyke on that portion of the Southern Trunk Line between the town of Timaru and Temuka and Pleasant Point, in the Levels Road District.’
After much delay and correspondence the contract was finally signed in December 1873 and Mr White’s men started work on 18th February 1874. On 13th March it was noted that about 45 chains of formation had been done from the Main North Road westwards.
In June 1874 the Canterbury and Otago Land Association offered the Board of Works a piece of land. near where the Police Station is today, for the railway station, suggesting that this site would be more suitable for the purpose of station accommodation than that currently envisaged. Of course, the offer was made with more than generosity in mind. as the Association had land near the offered site, and in the 1870's a railway station near land increased the land’s value considerably and made it more saleable. Naturally, the settlers who had already purchased land near the station site as set down by Mr Roberts in 1873 were not at all amused by the offer and started a petition requesting the Board to stick to its current plans. After taking all relevant matters into consideration the Board members on 13th August 1874 decided to leave things as they were and declined the Association’s offer. By this stage monies for the railway extension to Opawa (Albury) had been placed on the Provincial Government Estimates. The extension was therefore certain to proceed and the need for a bigger station site diminished with the knowledge that Pleasant Point would not be the terminus of the line as originally envisaged.
By early 1875 the contractor’s progress was beginning to be unsatisfactory a point brought before the Board on several occasions by the new Engineer. Mr John Rochfort. Tenders were called on 19th February 1875 for the connection contract at Washdyke; the contract being awarded on 3rd March 1875 to Messrs Allan and Stumbles for 816 Pound 16s.6d.
While progress was slow on the main contract, sufficient work had been done to allow tenders to be called on 23rd July 1875 for the construction of station buildings at Pleasant Point, Waitohi Road (Waitawa) and Levels. Although Mr Rochfort had estimated the increase in the price required to build the Pleasant Point station and goods shed of stone, no doubt the Provincial Government would not have agreed to such additional expenditure, and all tenders received were for wooden structures. On 4th August 1875 the Board accepted Messrs Ashton and Peter‘s tender for the construction of a 4th Class station building and a goods shed at Pleasant Point at 1,268 Pound 12s. No doubt this contract included provision for the completion of the platform as well.
Finally, after all the problems and delays, a train consisting of Canterbury Railways engine No. 21 (later N.Z.R. ‘C’ 53) and a carriage travelled on the Point Branch Railway for the first time on Monday, 25th October 1875, conveying some of the General Government and Provincial Government authorities and Mr Rochfort. According to the local press the authorities referred to, expressed themselves highly pleased with the efficiency of the line. The whole line, including buildings and fencing, was finished about 10th December 1875 and was opened for traffic, surprisingly without public ceremony, on 24th December 1875, with the following time-table, which allowed for two trips each way per day: TIMARU, departing 8.50am and 4 pm, arriving PLEASANT POINT at 9.15am and 4.45pm respectively, and returning from PLEASANT POINT at 9.45am and 5.15pm, arriving at TIMARU at 10.30am and 6pm respectively.
The line was later extended to Albury (opened 1st January 1877), Winscombe (opened 22nd August 1883) and lastly Fairlie Creek and Eversley (opened 28th )anuary 1884). Grandiose schemes to extend the line on to Silverstream and through Burke's Pass into the MacKenzie Country were devised and discussed, but these schemes never eventuated.
So for only a short time Pleasant Point was the terminus; quickly becoming just another station on the Opawa (Albury) Extension and later the Fairlie Branch Line. However the arrival of the railway did bring great improvements in transport for the settlers, and land values generally increased about the township. Settlers now had a reliable means by which to send and receive their produce and supplies, and could also travel to Timaru in comfort six days a week.
In 1881 the Telegraph Department decided to implement a telegraph service to Albury. While this was being established some prominent citizens of Pleasant Point again brought up the subject of the site of the local station. From the letters and articles in the Timaru Herald it transpired that memorandums were sent to; and private consultations held with, political representatives to get the station removed to a site further west. Around this time, railway carpenters arrived to make the necessary additions to the station building to accommodate the telegraphic equipment. After stripping the boards off one end of the station they received instructions to stop all work in this regard until the site problem was resolved. Of course, as often happens, the subject dragged on from weeks to months, and at least one correspondent to the Timaru Herald decried the deplorable and tatty condition of the Pleasant Point railway station! To make matters worse the telegraph system which had been completed to Albury;but which had no connection at Pleasant Point, promulgated the ludicrous situation whereby residents wishing to telegraph messages to Timaru would have to travel to Albury to do so! Finally the station was removed westwards to its present site over July and August 1882 and the telegraph office built; telegraphic communication being started in the township on 23rd October 1882. Further additions and alterations were made to the station in 1900, when on 26th July 1900 the Temuka Leader noted:
Some important and much needed alterations have recently been made at the Pleasant Point railway station. Twelve feet have been added to the eastern end of the station, which will be used exclusively for postal and telegraphic work. Entering this addition from the platform on the left is a long desk extending the breadth of the building, subdivided so as to give privacy to the public in writing telegrams and other postal work. On the right is the postal delivery counter, divided from the office proper by sliding glass windows.
There are also let into the wall twelve private letter boxes, which should prove a great convenience to the public. The roof of the old station has been raised about two feet, and all painted throughout; also the waiting room. The ladies” waiting room has received special attention, and is carpeted and furnished throughout in a very comfortable style.
The railway station also served from an early date (probably soon after 1875) as the Post Office until the new (and now closed) Post Office building was opened in 1913.
For many years the station acted as a training station for railway telegraphers. Staff were being trained there in 1917 and the training facilities may well have been provided up until the 1940s.
From the day it opened, The Point’s main traffic was wool, grain and livestock, although obviously passengers and mail contributed to the line’s profitability. At times the goods shed would be full to overflowing with bags of wheat and grain, so much so that a shortage of railway trucks meant that the Railways Department could not always clear the produce within a reasonable time — a long-standing problem that no doubt annoyed those involved no end. In later years the local area sent timber away from Cook’s Sawmill and brought in equipment and supplies for the Downlands Water Supply project. The Pleasant Point saleyards also provided the station with revenue as livestock was transported in and out.
In many ways the railway station was a very important place in its hey-day and the local Station-master held a place of respect in the community. When a Stationmaster, and even in many cases a lower ranked officer, was transferred out of the district, a farewell dinner or gathering would be held and a public subscription raised to buy the departing officer a gift with a token of the community’s esteem, invariably the local newspaper would cover the gathering word for word. Two very popular Station-masters farewelled in this way were Mr M.L. Bracefield in 1918 and Mr B. Felton in 1927.
Apart from the alterations to the Pleasant Point station already mentioned, occasional changes were made to the yards and facilities, and even more requests for the same. In 1906 the sole loading bank was altered following local representations, and in 1923 a second loading bank was requested and approved; it being noted as being complete by September of that year. A third loading bank was asked for in 1944 but because of the war raging at the time it was politely declined, and in fact by 1951 questions were being asked by Railways Head Office as to whether two loading banks were required.
Supposedly Pleasant Point had stock yards by 1876, and at a later stage new yards were erected near the location of the former station site. Alterations or renewal of the stockyards were discussed in 1911, and additions were noted as having been made in 1915 and 1926. In 1911 and 1923 plans were drawn up to extend the cattle yard siding, which was eventually done. With the advent of bigger locomotives and longer trains, larger capacity water vats were installed, which in turn showed up weaknesses in the windmill’s capacity to pump sufficient water to meet demand. In 1924 the Station-master suggested in correspondence to the District Traffic Manager, Christchurch, that a small oil engine be supplied to do the necessary pumping of water when the windmill was unable to fulfil its work. It was stated that to the year ended 31st March 1924 the sum of 26 Pound 6s 9d had been expended by the Railways Department for casual labour employed on pumping water at The Point! The request for an oil engine was declined on the basis that it was expected that electric current would be available shortly and Pleasant Point would be one of the stations where an electrically operated pump should be installed. Whether the electric pump was supplied is not recorded but on 10th September 1941 the Station-master of the day was advised that the Department was considering a proposal to eliminate the windmill in favour of connecting the water system to the Downlands Water Scheme.
As time went by the motor car and motor lorry started to appear in greater numbers, and those with foresight would probably have seen the writing on the wall for branch lines such as that to Fairlie as early as the 1920s. On 2nd June 1932 the District Traffic Manager, Dunedin, wrote to the General Manager of Railways, Wellington, stating that:
For the year ended 27th February 1932 the loss in the operation of this line was 1,566 Pound, with a feeder value of 1487 Pound, and in view of the satisfactory position disclosed, it obviously would not be an economical proposition to close this portion of the line. At the present time road motor competition is particularly keen in this area, one regular service and four irregular services running between Fairlie and Timaru, and one regular service and five irregular services running between Pleasant Point and Timaru. The volume of business handled on the Branch is not sufficient to justify the two competitive forms of transportation, and the regulating of the road transport would eliminate the loss incurred in operating this Branch. With a view to reducing the operating costs on this line the train service has been overhauled from time to time and the present service which comprises one mixed train each way daily is found to be the minimum service that will adequately handle the traffic and combat the keen road competition. The question of abandoning the passenger traffic and running a restricted goods service on this line was gone into in March last but it was found that such action would divert a considerable portion of our goods traffic to the road and would result in a loss of over 1,000 Pound per annum in passenger traffic. In areas where keen road competition is in operation, our experience has been that with any less frequent service than a daily one, consignors will not hold back consignments when a daily service is available by road.
Obviously from the questions asked by the General Manager’s Office, the Railways were looking at cutting costs as the Great Depression deepened, and the closure of the Fairlie Branch, along with other branches, was obviously considered in 1932. The motor car was reducing passenger numbers, and with the influx of motor trucks into the district, especially after the Second World War, the gradual decline in freight traffic slowly but surely continued to take its toll on the profitability of the Fairlie Branch Line. The system of transport which had so successfully replaced the earlier forms of road carriers was itself being worn down by more modern methods of road mobility. There were times, even after the last war, when the Branch was exceedingly busy, but these were more than outweighed by times when a train to Fairlie was little more than an engine, a few trucks, and a guardsvan. In the late 1950s and early 1960s stations on the Branch were closed and the buildings sold off, until finally, on 10th August 1967 the Minister of Railways, the Hon. J.B. Gordon announced that the 35 mile Washdyke—Fairlie branch line would be closed as it was losing $43,000 a year.
Despite the actions of a group calling itself the Fairlie Railway Retention Committee in taking the Minister of Railways to Court to try and stop the closure, the Branch was closed to all traffic, officially on the lst March 1968, although this was extended by one day to allow a special passenger train to run from Timaru to Fairlie and back. The last run of the Fairlie Flyer had arrived! While the Retention Committee was challenging the Minister’s authority to close the railway, another group, aptly named the Fairlie Flyer Committee, was making plans to run a farewell trip and to create a lasting memorial to the Fairlie Branch Railway. The first stage involved a massive eighteen carriage ‘last’ train hauled by ‘Ab’s 718 and 798 travelling to Fairlie on 2nd March 1968. There were special events held at most of the stations along the way, and those fortunate enough to be amongst the 1,000 plus passengers who packed the train on that day will long remember the trip. A special souvenir booklet titled ‘Farewell To The Fairlie Flyer’ was published for sale on board, and local radio personality Bill Timmings wrote a ballad called ‘The Fairlie Flyer’ which was sung by the Picasso Trio during the trip.
The second part of the Fairlie Flyer Committee’s objectives centred initially on the placing of a railway locomotive in the Fairlie township. However there was some local opposition to this scheme, and following discussion with the Pleasant Point Businessman’s Association a meeting was convened on 5th February 1970 to form a committee to place an ‘Ab’ class locomotive and to form a Historical Society and Museum at Pleasant Point. From this meeting the Pleasant Point Railway and Historical Society was launched. Following successful fund-raising which included a vintage machinery ‘Extravaganza’ on 2nd and 3rd May 1970 sufficient monies were in hand by May/June 1970 to purchase steam locomotive ‘Ab’ 699 from the New Zealand Railways for $600. The engine was towed from Ashburton to Timaru where it was externally restored to display standards while negotiations continued over the acquisition of the Pleasant Point railway station for a local museum. Once the station site had been secured the engine had to be shifted quickly as the contractors lifting the Branch were nearing Pleasant Point and did not want to be held up waiting at that station indefinitely. On 28th November 1970 ‘Ab’ 699 was brought to Pleasant Point and placed outside the station. As the speeches took place the contractors started to lift the line towards Washdyke. Such was the speed of progress! However, by the fact that the engine was sitting on several sections of track, Pleasant Point did not lose its railway completely, and can honestly boast having continuous railway facilities for near on 115 years.
Since 1970 the Pleasant Point Railway and Historical Society has grown from a small local and railway museum to a nationally respected tourist attraction. During the first four years the Society demolished the Pleasant Point goods shed, restored the station, erected a verandah over the engine, relaid a small section of track and successfully steamed its prize asset. However, an engine of 699's size needs more than eighty yards of track to operate realistically on, so the railway line eastwards, which had been ripped up in 1970, was relaid in sections over several years from 1977. When the line was finished it was one mile long and finished at Keanes Crossing where a new railway complex was designed and built, including a storage, restoration, and display shed, passenger platform, water vat, windmill, turntable, and storage paddock. Rolling stock was purchased, transported by road to Pleasant Point, and restored, including New Zealand’s only restored half-birdcage carriage (‘A’ 421) and New Zealand’s only fully operational ‘D’ class steam engine (‘D’ 16).
Since 1975 visitors to the museum have been able to enjoy a ride behind a steam locomotive in a variety of carriages and appliances. Ultimately the Society will create the scene where a typical mixed train (engine, goods wagons, a carriage or two and a guardsvan); synonymous with the old Fairlie Branch Line, will be run occasionally for the benefit of those too young to remember or too old to forget — a truly remarkable memorial to the Fairlie Branch Railway, and one which will fulfil admirably the ambitions of the original Fairlie Flyer Committee.
It appears that the railway at Pleasant Point has turned a full circle in its 115 year history; being firstly a much needed asset in the early days to a run-down and unprofitable liability in its latter days and finally back to an asset since 1970 which enhances the township and surrounding district. It would be interesting to know what the early settlers of Pleasant Point, who so vigorously fought for their railway facilities then, would think of their railway today?!
The name of Pleasant Point has been synonymous with traction engine and vintage machinery rallies for two decades; and probably not surprisingly, as the township is in the middle of and is a service centre for a district which saw extensive use of the traction engine and all varieties of machinery for threshing, hauling and farming use.
The first rally, aptly named an ‘Extravaganza’, was held on 2nd and 3rd May 1970 on Maze’s property to the west of Pleasant Point, and boasted eleven traction engines, and a large number of vintage cars, tractors, stationary motors, and vintage farming machinery, as well as Sid Lister’s 1928 Hermes Spartan aeroplane. The proceeds from this rally paid for the purchase of ‘Ab’ 699, which now sits proudly in the centre of Pleasant Point.
Ten years were to pass before another rally was to take place; this time on Don Clarke’s property near Smart Munro Road, from 5th to 7th April 1980. This was the first of the highly successful and eagerly awaited Pleasant Point Easter Steam Rally and Country Fairs, and was organised by an independent committee of members from the South Canterbury Traction Engine and Vintage Steam Club and the Pleasant Point Railway and Historical Society. The inclusion of craft displays and stalls added greatly to the attractions available for family members. The 1982 and 1984 Pleasant Point Easter Steam Rally and Country Fairs were held on the property of the Late Mr R.R. Jordan, and again were resounding successes, the 1984 event topping the lists with thirty-two traction engines, fifty-four vintage tractors, and thirty-three stationary engines, and a huge collection of stalls and display stands.
The 1986 Rally and Country Fair was cancelled just before the event was due to be held, because of the disastrous 1986 Pleasant Point flood. However, not to be outdone by the weather, the Rally Committee picked up the pieces and ran what has since been called the best Pleasant Point rally ever —— the 1987 Pleasant Point Easter Steam Rally and Country Fair. The crowds that attended this event made the whole effort of re-running the rally worthwhile and made Saturday to Monday, 18th to 20th April 1987, days to remember for a very long time.
These rallies have played a major part in bringing together, for the general public and enthusiasts alike, a collection of machinery and crafts not normally available for viewing in any one area, and in doing so have hopefully generated sufficient interest to ensure that the district’s fascinating history is preserved for the future.
In the very early days, the full burden of cartage was borne by the bullock waggons which brought the wool from the back country. Theirs was a slow and tedious journey and, before long, bullocks were replaced by Clydesdale horses which were already being used for short distance road transport.
Teams of horses remained the main source of haulage power until traction engines were introduced about the turn of the century.
The revolutionary development of the motor vehicle resulted in substantial changes in the public transport business. It has possibly been the cause of the biggest changes in the life of the district, e.g: loss of our railway, our saleyards and trades like blacksmith and saddler.
The first passenger coach service, three times a week to Timaru, was operated by Wm Warne before the advent of the railway. Later, Carl Rollinson held a haulage licence in Pleasant Point.
A Mr Green owned the very first trucking business in the township and Humphrey Friel, who bought his business from R. Knox in the 1920s, held a licence to operate a daily freight return service to Timaru. On Saturdays, he would fit out the truck deck with seats to transport the local footballers to their matches around the countryside.
In 1928, Alex Davison started business as a cartage contractor with two Republic trucks. This business which was situated on the corner of Main Road and Russell Street, was eventually sold to Richmond Bros.
Another carrying business was set up by Doug Brown about 1934 with one truck and a licence for cartage in the Levels County. Grain carrying was his major task in the harvest season, and off season, he carried and sowed lime from the Cave Limeworks which was opposite the township, and from a portable plant stationed near Rockwood.
He was the first operator to have a lime sower fitted to his truck and also the first to have a sheep crate. In 1937 he bought out the local coal merchant, Lex Borrell and, from then on, operated two trucks for general cartage.
About that time, farmers began to appreciate the influence of lime on the land and Doug Brown, with George Frame as his assistant, had a busy season spreading the first lime on Rockwood, Langley Downs and Raincliff Stations.
During World War II when Doug Brown was called up for military service, he sold his business to H. Gould and Company. The business was then based where the new shopping mall is now situated (they ultimately amalgamated with Mount Cook Freight Company).
Porter’s Motors of Timaru also had a depot at Pleasant Point which operated from a base opposite the Presbyterian Church on Manse Road. General and stock cartage was their main line of business.
Frame’s Carrying Company started in 1956 as a Bulk Lime Carrier with one truck owned by Ruby and George Frame. Two years later they purchased 2 G.M.C. bulk Spreaders from Rollinson Motors of Albury thus extending their lime spreading business from Albury to the coast. A front end loader and tip truck were duly added to the fleet and, in 1963, the firm took over Richmond Bros’ business.
Their buildings were then shifted to Horton Street where Frames’ Carrying Company continued to be based while its fleet expanded to eleven vehicles as well as double-decker stock trailers.
About that time, baled hay cartage became big business besides being very demanding. The men had to work all hours of the day and night. Also, at that stage, there was a heavy demand for freight to be put on rail so that no matter how many waggons were ordered, there were never enough to meet the demand.
During the harvest season, the Railways had to run a special freight train just to remove grain carted to the sidings by Frames and, after the big ewe fairs at the saleyards, the situation was much the same.
Once the grain harvest was over, acres and acres of potatoes were waiting to be carted. The thousands of sacks of potatoes had to be in the sheds by nightfall as a safeguard against frost, then they had to be moved to the rail or wharf.
In the mangold picking season, the men had to be at work while the frost was still on the ground so that the trucks could get out of the paddocks before the thaw set in.
Closure of the railway station, bulk heading of crops and centralisation of the saleyards at Temuka has brought even greater demands on the transport business.
In 1973 Frames’ Carrying Company was sold to H. McPherson and, some three years later, the business was again sold to Mount Cook Freightlines which continues to operate it from the base in Horton Street and serves a wide area in the carrying of stock, grain, hay and general freight.