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Monday, 5 September 2011

Belt up, gallop on, tea-off Heritage Bus Trip

September is Heritage Month, and the focus is on sport and recreation.  This local bus trip subsidised by the Upper Hutt Information Centre, took us to the National Rifle Association, Trentham Racecourse, and concluded with afternoon tea at the Royal Wellington Golf Club.  Fourteen of us boarded the bus and Alan took us on our trip.
DSCF7313Alan, our driver for the afternoon
First stop was at the National Rifle Association building to view the Ballinger Belt on display.  This competition started in 1861 and the original winner was William Brighton.  The Ballinger brothers tied for the title in 1907 and donated the belt to the NRA, with the view that the belt would be presented to the winner each year, but ownership retained by the Association.  After so many years the belt is actually several belts with a multitude of plaques attached.
DSCF7297 The Ballinger Belt
The Champion’s Chair is used to chair the winner off the range.  It was presented to NRA in 1910 by ex-champion Rifleman G Hyde.
 DSCF7298 The Champion’s Chair
DSCF7300 Robin surrounded by some of the club silver collection
Next stop was to the Wellington Racing Club at Trentham, where the Track Manager ushered us up to the Corporate Boxes.  As to be expected, the view from these boxes is great, and we could imagine what it would be like during a race when the field was in full gallop to be first past the finishing line.
DSCF7304 Winning Post
We were shown through the President’s Room, quite a small intimate area which admits only a few special invited guests on race days.  Then down the magnificent original timber staircase where the original clock is displayed.
DSCF7308 The Track Manager and the original clock
In the Weigh-In Room jockeys climb on the scales before and after each race and only a small weight difference is allowed.  Only one very slim lady was game to climb on and see what the scales revealed. 
DSCF7309 Checking her weight
The Judicial Room is a hive of activity on race days where film from 10 high resolution cameras, each costing $40,000 situated around the track is checked by a panel to make determinations on any disputes.   There is a special Race Meeting planned for Friday 7th October, just before the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup, and entry to the grounds is free.  The Racing Club is accepting overnight bookings from some of the many rugby supporters touring the country in campervans, and they will be able to leave their campervans on site and easily travel by train to Wellington Stadium.
DSCF7310 The iconic totalisator board
Our final stop on our trip was a short trip away to the Royal Wellington Golf Club.  In June 2004 her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 consented that the club be known as Royal Wellington Golf Club to commemorate the 250th year of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland.  Afternoon Tea was set out and waiting for us on our arrival, and we sank into the comfy couches and nibbled at dainty sandwiches, hot sausage rolls and a delicious lemon slice. 
P9050197 Afternoon tea, Madam?
The General Manager, John Gilbert related how the golf club was formed in Miramar, Wellington in 1895.  10 years later land was purchased in Upper Hutt and the current club house was built.  The club fees started off at $3 per year, and currently it costs members $2000 per year to belong to the club.  The club house is a treasure trove of iconic Chapman Taylor hand crafted furniture.
 DSCF7315 Chapman Taylor hand crafted furniture
The grounds consist of 74 hectares, with ongoing work being undertaken planting trees and to redevelop the adjacent wet lands.  A small area of forest has protected and been gifted to the Queen Elizabeth Trust.  The golf course looked a picture and a few players were completing their game in the afternoon sunshine.
DSCF7321Beautiful grounds  
The Heritage Bus Trip was very informative and we learned quite a bit more of local history.  We couldn’t have got a nicer day for a trip as the weather was just perfect.

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