September 25 1905
“Originals” to London by express.
The “Original” All Blacks won their third tour game easily enough, beating Bristol 41 – 0 on September 23 1905. The following day they were taken for a drive by stage coaches, then on the 25th left by “fast express” for London. For most, perhaps all, of the team this would be the fastest trip they had experienced. Billy Stead recorded it as follows:
“On Sunday we were taken a beautiful drive in the old-time style of stage coaches over the Clifton suspension bridge out to Portishead and Clevedon and on Monday at 2pm left by the fast express for London, arriving at 4pm.
This was our first experience on the fast express and, considering you are doing a mile a minute, it was most comfortable travelling, the only drawback being that the day was foggy and you could not see much of the landscape. The 120 miles are cut out without a stop, water being scooped up as the locomotive flies along, and carriages are left trailing behind at the various stations, so that on arrival in London our train was only about one-third the original length. There are two double lines all the way, and no roads across the railway at their level; many go under, but most overhead. En route, we passed the GWR works at Swindon, where 25,000 hands are employed, and Windsor Castle in the distance. The “Sutton nurseries” were an eye-opener, especially in the vast area planted in flowers. I’m sure some of the different varieties were planted by the acre. Arrived at Paddington Station, it took us exactly an hour to drive to the Manchester Hotel, Aldersgate street.”
From “Billy’s Trip Home” published 2005 by NZ Sports Hall of Fame p. 26.