On 14 October 1875, New Plymouth was abuzz with excitement. The first railway had opened which was to be the beginning of a larger project to connect the west coast to the other major cities in the North Island.  The deputy superintendent of the province, Arthur Standish, had declared the day a public holiday. Jane Carrington broke a bottle of champagne over the locomotive, christening it "the fox" and it departed on its first trip along the 11 mile, 13 chains and 16 links (that's nearly 18 kilometres) track to Waitara

All day folk were offered free trips and the day ended with speeches and a ball of which it is reported the dancing went on until after four.  Amongst the guests at the function were a Mr. and Mrs. Darnell. Bryan Henry Darnell was an engineer who had married a Miss Coleridge (yes related to the poet) in 1857 and they came to New Zealand in 1870. Bryan had been part of the rail project since construction began in August, 1873. He worked for the government who had contracted the firm of Brogden and Sons to build the line for the princely sum of £41,000. His job was Government Superintendent of construction.

The Taranaki Herald of 16 October 1875 reported that ... "for the government Mr B H Darnell has superintended the construction of the railway, assisted by Mr. F W Marchant; and the manner these gentlemen have performed their parts of the onerous duties entailed on them is most satisfactory".

Later his work was also acknowledged when the Inspector of Railways, Mr Knorpp, examined and tested the line and found it "very satisfactory".

Darnell continued superintending the rail construction as the line grew to include Inglewood and eventually he retired to Bell Block where he died in 1906, aged 86. The street that bears his name no longer crosses the railway line; a bypass was constructed city- bound just beyond the Waiwhakaiho Bridge that separated it from the rail.  At least we can establish a connection with the railway and Darnell that the street no longer can.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

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