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Hillarys to lead Britomart opening on Queen St

Hillarys to lead Queen Street procession for Britomart opening

Sir Edmund and Lady Hillary will lead a procession down Queen Street this Friday afternoon as the special guests of honour to Britomart’s official opening.

“2003 is Sir Edmund’s year. It of course marks the 50th anniversary of his assent of Mount Everest. I encourage Auckland citizens to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to line Queen Street and salute our greatest living New Zealander,” said Mayor of Auckland City, Hon John Banks.

“Over the past few months my office has received numerous calls from the public suggesting the City holds a public reception for the Hillarys. Friday presents us with the best opportunity to do just that.” Sir Edmund – this year’s inaugural recipient of the City’s Distinguished Citizen Award – said today: “It is a great honour and we are looking forward to it very much.”

Following three pipers and a drummer, the Hillarys will be in the first of two horse-drawn carriages. Accompanying them will be Mr Banks and given the civic significance of the day, an army officer from the Auckland and Northland Countess of Ranfurly’s Own Regiment.

In the second carriage will be three elderly Aucklanders who caught the last train out of the old downtown rail station before it closed in 1930. They will be Mr Wesley MacDonald (87) of Glen Innes, Mrs Tilly Hanlon (94) of Papatoetoe and Mr Des Tucker (79) of Otahuhu. An army officer will also travel with them.

Also in the procession will be up to seven of Auckland’s earliest cars (weather permitting) driven by members of the Horseless Carriage Club.

The cars will go down Queen Street in chronological order: 1907 Cadillac Model K (Ross Jones); 1908 De Dion Bouton (Bruce Madgwick); 1909 Rover (Barry Robert); 1910 Hupmobile (Charles Liddell), 1911 Newton Bennett (Rex Bremner); 1912 Sunbeam (Rex Healy); and 1912 Ford T (John Pauling).

Horseless Carriage Club secretary Wilma Madgwick said the public will enjoy seeing the period cars. All are in pristine condition and the drivers will be dressed to complement the period.

The procession will leave the Auckland Town Hall at 1.40pm on Friday 25 July 2003. It will symbolise the link between the old and the new. The Britomart Transport Centre does just that with the restored 1912 old Chief Post Office gateway to the new state-of-the-art underground train station.

Police will work to minimise any traffic disruption. One side of Queen Street will experience a rolling closure, with only parts of the street closing when the procession is in proximity.

The procession is due to arrive at Queen Elizabeth Square outside the old Chief Post Office at 2pm. The official programme will then include the unveiling of plaques, speeches, and the cutting of a cake.

The public is invited to join the Britomart opening celebrations on Saturday 26 July, when the City hosts a day of free festivities for all Auckland families to enjoy. The festival runs from 11am, with all day entertainment and performances and will conclude with a light show in Queen Elizabeth Square at dusk.

The Mayor believes the procession is good value for money. Hiring both horse drawn carriages will cost the Auckland City Council $1,100 and a small donation will be made to the Horseless Carriage Club.

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