This watercolour of the rail line at Washdyke in South Canterbury was painted by Eliot Whatley in 1874. The placement of the line in the centre of the image emphasises how important the railway was to people in the 1870s. It was seen as essential to opening up rural areas and connecting them to international markets. Julius Vogel, colonial treasurer, borrowed heavily to invest in transport improvements and immigration, in the hope that this would bring growth to New Zealand. The main trunk line between Christchurch and Invercargill was completed in 1879. Railways were more important in the South Island, roads in the north.
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Watercolour by Eliot Whatley
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