Moving King Dick's Coach

Monday 16 March 2020

In early February a team from Canterbury Museum travelled to Arthur’s Pass to retrieve the Cobb and Co coach, also known as the Seddon coach, from the Visitor Centre.

Seddon Coach at Arthur's Pass

The Seddon Coach on display at the Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre building is currently unoccupied and awaiting earthquake repairs. This presented the Museum with an opportunity to take the coach back to Christchurch for conservation.

Moving large objects like the coach is often difficult, but the coach proved particularly complicated because parts of the Visitor Centre building had been constructed around it. The easiest way to get it out was to take out the large window beside it.

The Museum's team carefully removed the coach’s roof racks, then jacked up its axles to get the wheels off. Space constraints meant this had to be done one axle at a time.

The team built wheeled blocks for the axles to sit in so the coach could be repositioned. They also had to construct a temporary floor so it could be moved to the window where it was to be lifted out.

With the window removed, a contractor lifted the coach on a forklift and carried it to a waiting truck for transport back to Christchurch. The coach was wrapped in plastic to protect it from the gentle rain falling at the time.

The Museum will keep the coach in secure storage until the Visitor Centre is repaired and ready to have it back. It will also be photographed for an upcoming publication celebrating the Museum’s 150th anniversary on our Rolleston Avenue site.

Richard Seddon 1905

New Zealand Premier (Prime Minister) Richard Seddon reserved the coach for the use of his family. Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/1-001917-G. No known copyright

The coach was assembled in Nelson in 1888 from a locally-made body and other parts imported from the USA. It carried mail and passengers between Nelson and Greymouth, and later, Springfield and Kumara via Arthur’s Pass.

After he became Premier (Prime Minister) in 1893, Richard Seddon reserved the coach for his exclusive use. It ferried Seddon (nicknamed King Dick by the public) and his family between the railway station at Springfield, Canterbury, and their home in Kumara on the West Coast until Seddon’s death in 1906.

In 1924 the coach was bought by artist and coaching enthusiast Edgar Lovell-Smith. Lovell-Smith donated it to the Museum in 1926.

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