Topic: Springfield Station

Topic type:

Memories of the Cafe

The year was 1957 and the Hammond family were staying in Christchurch for a few days after moving down from Ohakune before Percy Hammond began as IP Way (Inspector of Permanent Way) at Springfield. His job would take in the line from Rolleston to Cass and the Whitecliffs line.

Milly Kelly said to her staff, "Get that new girl up here. We need her now." It was particularly busy at the caf (cafe) at the Springfield Railway Station.
Elva Hammond (Glassey), had transferred from Ohakune refreshment rooms to Springfield, so her father duly delivered her to her lodgings at the old hotel where she would stay until the family moved there a week later. When you've come from Ohakune the chances of having experienced the wrath of a good nor'wester were pretty slim. Elva certainly hadn't. Elva says she was sure she wasn't going to make it alive through that day the wind was so bad, and it was no better at the hotel which was creaking and groaning. She was sure pleased to see her father again. After all there's nothing to slow the nor'wester between Mount Torlesse and the Springfield rail yard.

Excursion trains from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass in winter were another new experience. They were the days of the 'bodgies' and 'widgies' who were dressed Elvis-style, but were rough. "Three excursion trains stopped ten minutes apart and with 500 passengers in each, their stopovers at the Springfield railway caf were to be feared," says Elva. Police always accompanied the trains.

"In those days there were no tills. The money was kept in saucers below the high counter and they'd be leaning over it pinching money out of the saucers so we had to move them behind us out of reach. In the old station the wooden counter was very long and in the crush of people it was beginning to buckle under the strain. Cafe boss, Milly Kelly decided she'd had enough so off she stormed to find the police, one of whom she found just about to head into the men's toilet. She grabbed him and escorted him back inside to sort it out.

Malvern Record 19 April 2005

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