Island Transport
 
            25 September 1991          20c, 80c, $1.30, $1.80                     Mint and CTO        $4.10
                                                                                                             FDC                       $4.60

Technical Details

        Release Date:                    25 September 1991
        Tablet Values:                   20c, 80c, $1.30, $1.80
        Artist:                                Owain Bell
        Printer:                              The House of Questa Limited
        Process:                            Lithography
        Paper:                               CA Watermark
        Stamp Size:                       31.75 x 31.75 mm (Diamond)
        Perforation Gauge:            14 per 2 cm
        Pane Format:                    50 (2 x 25)
        Mint and CTO:                 $4.10
        First Day Cover:               $4.60


For any who have tramped Pitcairn's steep earth roads the need for some means of transport is self-evident.  Only round the Radio Station at Taro Ground do the roads run level ... and then only for one hundred metres; the remainder are up and down, mostly with steep inclines.

Usually hard packed or covered in fine dust in dry conditions, the roads turn to mud when the rains fall.  Mud that accumulates between the toes if walking barefoot until they spread to the point where pain forces you to stop and clear them.  Mud that builds up on the soles of your footwear until you are lifting an extra kilogram or so on each foot.

And for 174 years from 1790, the people of Pitcairn Island relied on foot transport - aided by their unique wheelbarrows when heavy loads had to be carried: Pitcairn wheelbarrows were big - some with an overall length of six feet - and very large loads they could carry, too.

Although there were exceptions, as when bringing stores up from the landing, most heavy loads were of firewood and of vegetables gathered on the higher parts of the island and transported down into Adamstown.  Sine it would have been impossible to control a heavily laden conventional wheelbarrow travelling down the steep roads, the Pitcairn barrows were equipped with runners rather than legs.  A measure of control could then be exercised by skidding the vehicles.  A further refinement saw the handles end in a hook which prevented them slipping from the hands when the forward momentum increased.  Such a wheelbarrow features on the first day of issue envelope.

Things began to change on the transport front in 1964 when a Bristol crawler tractor and a Massey Ferguson wheeled tractor were purchased on behalf of the island government.  With these machines many of the walking paths were improved until 6.4 kilometres of road capable of carrying wheeled traffic had been formed.

Within two years motor cycles made their first appearance.  Illustrated on the 80c stamp is the Honda 90cc motorcycle which for fifteen or so years carried a driver and two, sometimes three, passengers.  It transported large loads on the seat behind the driver or in a trailer dragged behind it.  In the mid 1970s there were 34 of these motorcycles on the island.

Early four wheeled traffic met with less than wholehearted approval.  Three Mini Mokes travelled local roads between 1969 and 1983, but were unsuited to the steep terrain and only one remains in use.

The advent of three-wheeled motorcycles in the early 1980s, ($1.80 stamp), and later the four wheeled models, meant more passengers and larger loads could be carried.  Above all they sneered at the clinging mud which brought the two wheeled Hondas to a standstill when it clogged their wheels.

The remaining two stamps feature a Massey Ferguson 245 tractor ($1.30 stamp) purchased in 1979 and a Caterpillar D4E bulldozer (20c stamp).  Much interest centred on the arrival of the eleven tonne D4E in 1983 when it was airlifted from New Zealand by Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules C130 transport and parachuted on to Pitcairn on 31 May, an event which featured in our Aircraft stamp issue, released on 25 July 1989.