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Echoes Of Blenheim’s Maritime Past As Masts Return

Refurbished masts from the historic scow A.S. Echo were lifted into place at The Quays, opposite the new Marlborough Library and Art Gallery in Blenheim, this morning.

The installation is one of six sites included in the Blenheim Business Association’s Marlborough Mile project, which is designed to enhance the town’s CBD, celebrating history and culture, viticulture, agriculture, aquaculture, climate and aviation.

The A.S. Echo was built from kauri in 1905 in Te Kopura near Dargaville and used in the timber and coal trades before being bought by Charles Eckford, coming to Blenheim in 1920.

She crossed the Cook Strait more than 15,000 times carrying cargo which was brought up the Ōpaoa River and unloaded at the The Quays, formerly known as Port Blenheim. When in dock her masts were visible from further down High Street and have been installed to replicate that view.

The Echo became uneconomic in 1965 due to competition from Cook Strait ferries and spent many years in Picton Marina as clubrooms and a café before being demolished due to disrepair in 2015.

Her masts and timber decking were salvaged and refurbished for use as this tribute at The Quays redevelopment.

The 1.3km Marlborough Mile walk includes the aviation site at Liz Davidson Place where a small bi-plane - a replica of the first plane to fly across Cook Strait - was installed earlier this year. The Quays site also includes a small steel silhouette of the A.S. Echo and story boards are planned to tell the history of the ship.

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