OPPOSITION TO FRIDAY NIGHT TROTTING
Internationally the first night trotting meeting was held at Batavia Downs in Western New York State in 1940. Across the Tasman Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney had all embraced the concept by the end of the 1940's but it was not until New Years Eve 1958 that night trotting at totalisator meetings was introduced to NZ by the Auckland TC at Alexandra Park.
The Hawera HRC held the first harness race under lights in NZ when they held an equalisator meeting at the Hawera Showgrounds on 24 November, 1958.
In 1961 Forbury Park pioneered night trotting in the South Island.
Credit: Colin Steele
ADDINGTON TRIAL MEETING
INTRODUCTION OF NIGHT TROTTING IN NZ
Ever since the successful introduction of night trotting by the Auckland Trotting Club in 1958 the question of its introduction was repeatedly raised, and in July 1959 the Addington Trotting Course Ltd Directors advised that night trotting should be investigated. The Club agreed that a sub-committee comprising three representatives from the Met and three from the CPTC be set up and it first met on the 14th August 1959 when it was decided to ask National Electric & Engineering Co Ltd to report on the requirements for and the cost of, lighting the track and facilities at Addington.
In November representatives of NEECO attended a meeting of the sub-committee and advised that it would cost £61,697 to light Addington using a high pole system for the Track, as well as MED charges for two feeder cables and a transformer building. In May 1960 the recommendation by the Treasurers of Canterbury Park and the Met that consideration of the introduction of night trotting be held over until the new Members Stand and Amenities Building was completed and paid for was adopted by the Committee.
In July 1961 following a Notice of Motion by Mr W M Ollivier, a Committeeman of the Club, a sub-committee was appointed to prepare a report on the introduction of night trotting and its costs. The sub-committee comprised Messrs J K Davidson, R W Saunders, W M Ollivier, C E Hoy and G W Blaxall. In December enquiries were made from NEECO into the lighting of Addington and conducting both day and night Meetings, and Canterbury Park was approached at Presidential level to ascertain if they would discuss the question of night trotting. In February 1962 the sub-committee receive representatives from NEECO and their lighting specialist from Auckland, Mr Wheeler, stated that there was nothing better than the high pole system, and pointed out that only three high-poles at the Showgrounds bend could cause any shadow problem. The sub-committee approved in principle the suggestion that NEECO be appointed as engineering consultants and prepare plans and specifications, and call for tenders from local firms using NEECO’s equipment.
In May 1962 the Night Trotting sub-committee agreed that both Clubs give favourable consideration to a combination of Day and Night Trotting using the existing dates. In July the Committee decided that as the Members had endorsed the Committee’s recommendation that Day and Night Trotting be instituted at Addington the night trotting sub-committee act on its implementation.
In September the displaying of progressive dividends over the closed circuit TV, was approved and put into operation for the 1962 Cup Meeting.
At a Meeting of the night trotting sub-committee held on the 16th August 1962 as the two Committees had approved night trotting the recommendations of NEECO were accepted and in December it was decided that the area under the west end of the Stewards Stand be used for the MED sub-station, and NEECO’s switch room. NEECO were then instructed to proceed with the installation for a cost not exceeding £65,000.
The introduction of night trotting following on the loss of the main Public Stand and the re-siting of the horse stalls near Wrights Road was carried out as a joint operation by Addington Raceway Ltd.
In December 1962 the Secretary/Manager reported that as only eleven months remained before the completion of the new Stand and the introduction of night trotting urgent decisions were required on many matters including ground re-arrangements, totalisator facilities and others relating to the major changes being made.
In March 1963 while the installation of the lighting was proceeding, the building permit for the erection of the switchrooms was not granted because the Drainage Board had advised that the sealed pipe serving that area would be under the concrete floor of the low tension switchroom and the patio in front of the entrance to the Stewards Stand. The permit was obtained following the laying of the sewer outside the building lines.
Also in March 1963 at a meeting of Presidents and Vice-Presidents, a number of decisions were made including the provisions of electric signs for certain facilities. They also decided that the name “ADDINGTON RACEWAY” be adopted so that the plans showing details of all facilities could be finalised and published in the newspapers and circulated to Members and other interested parties. The New Brighton Club signified its decision to race at Addington, and sell its property thereby providing additional funds for Addington. This made it unnecessary to take up the loan from the Commercial Union or take advantage of J J Construction Ltd’s offer to charge 6% on any monies outstanding on the horse stalls.
In July 1963 it was agreed that the operational loss sustained at night by the Christchurch Transport Board in providing an additional trip to each of sixteen termini, at a minimum cost not exceeding $16 per trip, be met by the Club racing.
In July Mr Fenwick said that following an inspection of the lighting of the main indicator, it was found it was impossible to read it under the floodlights. As there was no problem with the doubles indicator it was decided to obtain quotations for the provision of a ribbon indicator to replace the drum indicator and prices were obtained from F W Matthews Ltd and Sherlock & Cotton Ltd.
In August with the introduction of night trotting almost a reality, improvements and alterations were made to catering facilities so as to provide a wider range of take-away foods with a new take-away booth on the lawn, the provision of hot and cold meals in the Public Tea Kiosk, and the upgrading of the Members Restaurant. The overall cost of carrying out these improvements was £7,200.
In October with the majority of lighting turned on, it was decided that 13 neon signs be purchased from Nuclear Neon and erected on certain amenities. Ripple signs were positioned on the Totalisator Buildings.
In October 1963 a meeting was convened by the Club at which representatives of Bodies associated with the operation of Addington were present, and they were advised of the procedures to be adopted with the introduction of night trotting. The matters discussed were of vital concern to Owners, Trainers, Drivers, Newspaper representatives, Gate Supervisors, the Ministry of Transport, the Christchurch Traffic Department, St. Johns Ambulance, the Police and others.
In June 1964 the Committee discussed the question of Licensed Booths, and Mr K C Booth advised that after obtaining a legal opinion an application should be made by the Caterers for a Booth Licence for Night Meetings, and that their application should be a conservative one, with the hours being between 6.30 and 9.30pm. In July it was decided that the approach to the Government should be made by the NZ Trotting Conference, and this was endorsed at its Annual Meeting. In February it was reported that nothing further had been heard and the Conference was requested to approach the Government on the matter. In April 1965 the Conference advised that the case for the consumption and/or sale of liquor at Night Meetings was being prepared for submission to the Government. In September 1966 the NZTC advised that written submissions were completed, and being presented to the appropriate authority. In December the Conference advised that their Counsel had expressed the opinion that a direct approach to serve liquor at Night Meetings would not jeopardize its submissions, but no further action was taken.
In April 1965 it was reported that the final cost of lighting the track and facilities for Night Trotting was £72,674. NEECO £72,072: C E Fenwick, Consultant £214: J L Shaw Ltd, Extra Floodlights £188: Sundries £200.
Following a track lighting failure during the running of a race at a Wellington Trotting Club’s Meeting, the Directors considered the installation of emergency lighting to eliminate the risk of a total blackout being experienced at Addington. NEECO obtained tenders for the installation of a standby plant and emergency lighting comprising one floodlight on each pole. In September 1965 an engine to drive the generator was purchased and J L Shaw Ltd’s price for installing the system was £3,917 and accepted by NEECO who advised that the system would be proceeded with at the end of February 1966. The installation was delayed so that investigations and experiments could be carried out to see if the generator could supply sufficient power for a system which would provide sufficient light for the video taping of races. As the number of quartz iodize lights required to provide satisfactory lighting was beyond its capacity it was decided in May to proceed with the installation of the emergency plant.
NEECO expressed concern with the wastage of lamps in the floodlighting system, and put forward a case to the suppliers for their replacement gratis. At the same time it was decided to purchase 175 1500 watt lamps, to be held in reserve as an insurance against lamp failure.
In May 1966 the Secretary/Manager advised that NEECO were making enquiries into a new lamp being designed and produced in America which was capable of giving a much higher lumens output. But some time was to elapse before any further information became available.
In August 1968 NEECO put forward a proposition for the replacement of the incandescent lamps used for the track lighting with the new multi-vapour lamps. At Special meeting attended by the Committees of the three Clubs on the 16th October 1968, a demonstration of the 1000 watt multi-vapour lamps was given and NEECO advised that the estimated life of these new lamps was 6000 hours, whereas the estimated life of the incandescent lamps was only 100 hours. The cost of the latter lamps was $5 each, whereas the multi-vapour lamps would cost $53 but it was estimated that there would be a great saving in operating costs. Light readings of the multi-vapour and incandescent lamp showed that the former produced at least ten times the foot candles. The estimated conversion cost was $43,500 with the being carried out by local firms. The Directors instructed NEECO to prepare specifications and call tenders for the conversion of the track lighting system and they advised that the delivery of the multi-vapour lamps would be ten weeks after receipt of order. In February 1969 they advised that due to a strike in the United States there would be some delay in the shipping of the lamps, but the Contractors work could be done between April and May, and the new system available for the Canterbury Park Winter Meeting. In April they advised they still had no idea when the lamps would arrive from the States, as the Longshoreman’s dispute was not settled. However, NEECO did advise they were prepared to carry out the modifications, provided they had an assurance that they would be absolved from any financial loss to the Clubs, should it prove impossible to complete the installation prior to the Canterbury Park Meeting. The CPTC Committee was prepared for the work to be proceeded with, and in the event of it not being completed, due to unforeseen circumstances, their Meeting would be held in the daytime. The Installation was completed in time, and the new system was used for the first time as planned at the Canterbury Park’s Winter Meeting on the 24th May 1969 and was an unqualified success. A fog settled over the course during the evening, and some thought it was caused by the brilliance of the new lights, but this was a fallacy. The final installation cost of the multi-vapour system, was $42,432.
In February 1978 following a request from the New Zealand Trotting Horsemen’s Association an investigation was carried out as to the best method of overcoming the possibility of horses jumping the pole shadows, at day Meetings. The possibility of hinging the offending poles was investigated.
Shadows cast across the track at day Meetings by the lighting towers was the subject of an investigation carried out in October 1978, by a member of the University of Canterbury School of Engineering who prepared a plan which was referred to Messrs Morris & Wilson, Consulting Engineers, who advised that there were three possible solutions to the problem. The first was the relocation of the offending poles. The second the replacing of the poles with telescopic ones, and thirdly lowering them to the ground during day Meetings. It was decided by the Directors in May1979 that the suggestions were not practicable and any action on the matter was deferred. However, in September of that year, Mr Pickering the Engineer of NEECO advised that he was endeavouring to obtain information from General Electric in Canada and the USA relating to various methods of track lighting. A report from NEECO in May 1980 advised that a new type of lamp was being produced in America which was of a better quality and less subject to failure, and would be suitable for future replacements. The question of shadows from the lighting poles had been discussed with their American representatives and NEECO prepared a report on both the new lamps and the shadow problem.
In October 1982 concern was expressed at the cost of lighting and heating the course during a race Meeting, and instructions were issued regarding the time the lights were to be switched on. Discussions were held with officials of the MED and the Department of Trade & Industry in an endeavour to lower the unit cost of electricity, and have the Company’s rating changed from commercial to industrial use.
In April 1985 the Secretary was instructed to pursue the question of the cost of replacing the current track lighting system with one similar to that installed by Thorne Lighting Ltd at Cambridge Raceway.
In October the Chairman reported that he had inspected the density of the lighting a Claudelands Raceway and Alexandra Park and that in his opinion the Addington Raceway lighting compared favourably with Claudelands. It was decided that the matter be deferred.
In March 1986 the quotation of $12,455 submitted by Christchurch Electrical Ltd for completely overhauling the lamp holders and replacing fastenings, cleaning and reinstalling 30 light poles was proceeded with.
Credit: NZMTC: Historical Notes compiled by D C Parker