Friday, 12 January 2018

Grahamstown Gazette: Less Independent Tea Drinkers

For generations, January’s long hot days have provided the perfect excuse for the people of Thames to escape up the coast. Picnic baskets in hand, locals and tourists alike would set up camp for the day as they played, relaxed and enjoyed the coastline’s scenic splendour.

‘Picnic parties dotted the shore of our beautiful coast yesterday, and many were the complimentary expressions passed by visitors to the place on its unexcelled beauties’ reported the Thames Star in 1912. ‘The pohutukawas lining the road side presented an attractive sight, and afforded comfortable shelter for those seeking a cool spot away from the sun's rays.’

To celebrate the start of the New Year in 1906, the local Young Men’s Independent No-License Club organised a town picnic up the coast at Waiomu. Departing from Mary Street at 9am sharp, ten horse-drawn carriages full of happy holidaymakers spend an hour and a half winding their way up the coast road to the Waiomu Flat. ‘Soon fires were lit and the indispensible ‘billies’ were everywhere,’ reported the Thames Star, as the holidaymakers settled in for cups of tea. ‘A large copper kindly lent by Mr J. Dobson, of the coast, supplied the necessary hot water for the less independent tea drinkers.’

After lunch, the Young Men’s Club had organised an afternoon of lively activities to keep the group occupied, including cricket and rounders. Races were run to occupy the children, and ‘the little ones were rewarded handsome toys for their athletic feats.’ 

By 6:30pm, the happy group had packed up and was starting to make its way back to Thames. ‘Great praise is due to the young men for the splendid arrangements made for the comfort and convenience of the people,’ continued the Thames Star. ‘Although nearly 300 were carried to Waiomo [sic], not the slightest hitch occurred during the day.’ The Star particularly singled out for praise Mr Ferguson, the club secretary, as well as the carriage drivers.

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