Cass: A one-man town

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 07:07 02/12/2012
Daniel Tobin

The town of Cass has only one resident, Barrie Drummond, The Sunday Star Times visited Barrie to see what keeps a man away from big city living.

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When Barrie Drummond was offered a job in Cass he never thought he'd last more than two years in the small town.

"I didn't want to come here in the beginning to be honest," he said.

But 25 years later, despite being the Selwyn District town's only resident, Drummond said he had no plans to leave any time soon.

Drummond, 65, who works for KiwiRail and is responsible for the highest section of the track linking Christchurch to Greymouth, said he never felt lonely or isolated in the one-man town.

It was only a short drive to Arthurs Pass or Flock Hill and there was always visitors passing through wanting to look at the railway station made famous by Rita Angus' iconic painting more than 60 years ago, he said.

"There's always people here all the time. There'd be four or five people here every day calling in to look at that," Drummond said.

Ironically, it was largely the people that made him stay.

Drummond said he had developed life-long friendships with locals in the area.

"That's what made me stay here," he said.

And as for the lack of woman... well "it's never really worried me", Drummond, who has never been married, said.

Drummond said there was not a lot he missed from living in a city, aside from fast food, particularly fish and chips and KFC.

"I always get some whenever I'm in town," he said.

But he had alternatives for convenience food, the nearby Bealey Hotel or Grassmere Lodge.

He said he found living in a city noisy, and the cost of living expensive.

The rent for his house, owned by the railway, was $50 a fortnight, and there was no traffic to contend with, he said.

Drummond's plans to remain in the town even when he retires, helping the railway with any emergencies.

"As long as I'm able to get around and that I'll stay here."

Drummond also organises an annual "Cass Bash" event, - a weekend cricket match between KiwiRail staff and the locals that sees hundreds gather from across the country.

He has transformed one of the old railway sheds into a bar, complete with stage for the band.

"I don't mind having this thing, but it's gone on Monday.

"It's good to have people around but I'm so used to living by myself now for so many years. I like my own peace and quiet. It's good to see them come and go. I suppose I'm in a bit of a rut now I like doing things myself."

This year about 240 people attended and the railway staff ended the locals four-year reign, winning by one run.

Along with the bash, Drummond has added a mini golf course and most recently a bowling green to the town to try and attract visitors.

But Drummond is modest about his additions to the town; he said simply that he likes "pottering about".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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