ON TAY STREET
You feel an immediate sense of pride when you talk to Southlanders about the efforts a dedicated team has put in, achieving the completion of Bill Richardson Transport World, on Tay Street in Invercargill. Opened in December 2015, this stunning piece of art-deco design has been complemented by the recent opening of one of the biggest collections of classic motorcycles in the southern hemisphere.
Now named ‘Classic Motorcycle Mecca’, and located further along Tay Street in the central city, it was officially opened during the Burt Munro Rally on November 23, 2016, by UK motorcycle racer and television personality Guy Martin.
The separate motorcycle exhibition evolved after it was realized that the collection of more than 300 machines and associated artefacts would have been far too big to house at Bill Richardson Transport World, so an alternative site was located to do it justice.
Southland trucking identity Bill Richardson died in 2005, but the transport legacy he created lives on in this landmark building. It was a huge project, largely driven by his daughter, Jocelyn O’donnell, who, with husband Scott O’donnell, is a director of the collection. Together with the Richardson family and enthusiasts, they turned her father’s passion into reality, creating one of the largest collections of its kind in the world and a must-see on any holiday itinerary, with something to entertain all the family.
Both complexes are also brilliant time capsules of many facets of the growth of the Southland region, with the motorcycle exhibition capturing notable historic moments in its own right.
The success of Bill Richardson Transport World at heralding a direction for future projects in the region has been immediate. Shortly after the opening of the Classic Motorcycle Mecca, the significantly underdeveloped tourism industry in the south received a positive $2.4M boost from government, announced by ministers Steven Joyce and Nathan Guy, as part of an overall Southern Regional Development Plan. Held appropriately at a function at Bill Richardson Transport World on November 30, 2016, Mr Joyce said it was part of a continuing investment in southern development in a number of areas to encourage private investment.
Bill Richardson’s legacy
The growth of the motor industry and, in particular, the transport industry and related services from the early days of the province was crucial to the development of Southland and its vast area. It was only natural that it produced a wide variety of innovative individuals and families, who were not only involved in establishing the industry but have also sought to preserve its legacy through their continuing involvement today.
Jim Cooper, for example, followed a similar business development at Tuatapere, with similar interests to Bill in trucking, and he expanded into Australia. He also had a passion for trucks, and many of Jim’s collection of cars and trucks are now on display at Bill Richardson Transport World.