The original shows sheds and fields to the right and houses to the left. It is no easy task to sort out the orientation of this photo so I’m not going to hazard a guess. Too much changed at Waitoa in the meantime. Of course what is interesting is the line of milk lorries. These are Walker Electric trucks which were manufactured in Chicago in the early part of the twentieth century into the 1920s.
According to an article by Christchurch Libraries, these trucks had ‘an optimistic range of forty miles’ (64kms) but that was dependant on load and road. They also say the fleet in Christchurch in the 1920s numbered about 200, so you could have called them ‘ubiquitous’ without too much fear of contradiction. We also know that Pomeroys here in Hamilton had a Tai Tapu Dairy Co (just south of Christchurch) Walker in their workshops. One has to wonder why – so far from home! Could it have been on loan for evaluation? What were they like to spend a day driving? Solid rubber tyres and primitive suspension.
Oh yes! Men were men in those days – hard riding trucks and churns full of milk – no easy jobs here!
What this photo does indicate is that these vehicles were cheap to buy or cheap to run or both – they must have been or companies like NZDC would not buy so many. They had vast banks of batteries which were charged overnight – you can see the battery boxes between the wheels. But, as these are short range trucks, a farm had to be reasonably close in to Waitoa to have milk collected in those days. This squares with the fact that over a vast rolling landscape between Matamata, Morrinsville, and to the north up highway 27, there were, for many years to follow, only large sheep farms – dairy herds were yet to arrive in the hinterland. Later developments in roading and transport saw sheep disappear and the cows come home.
It is thought only one of these lorries survives in Christchurch – does anyone know of another?
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Hamilton Central Libraries