The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
Something for Nothing............
Wednesday 27th August 1969

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.

Something for nothing will always get the punters attention and a free train ride was no exception! That said my memories of the whys and wherefores of the event are a little hazy but I'll tell the tale as I can recall and if I err hopefully someone will drop me a line and I can then set the record straight.

The train was organised by the Rangiora Businessmen's Association and promoted as a free train ride from Christchurch to Rangiora (twenty miles away) with time spent at Rangiora to indulge in some shopping. While the Christchurch folk were enjoying Rangiora the train would then carry on to Waipara, a further twenty miles along the line, giving the Rangiora folk their chance of a free train ride. The date tells me it would have to have been during the August school holidays so no doubt the Rangiora businessmen were expecting a large crowd of mothers and children to descend on their country town and spend up big. I don't think they realised though just how many people were going to take advantage of the opportunity........ 

In the lead was Ja1267 followed by Ab754 then six steel carriages, a wooden van, twelve wooden carriages and another van. That's a twenty total train behind the two locomotives so most likely around nine hundred to a thousand passengers and, as I found out later in the morning, a large crowd had been left behind at Christchurch. This was the only time I ever saw a Ja and Ab double heading and it certainly made for a great sight as it picked up speed along the Addington straight.

In fact so many folk had been left behind that in order not to disappoint another train was hurriedly assembled and followed the first excursion a short time later. This time a diesel was in charge and apart from the vans it looks like an all steel carriage consist. This is the only photo I have of the train and it's a bit hard to work out just how large it was though. Certainly five cars, a van and then it could be another six or seven cars plus another van so probably capacity for another four to five hundred passengers. The photo was taken from the road crossing just before the entrance to the Rangiora station yard.

According to Mr Kodak's slide numbers this shot was taken prior to the previous one. Certainly I can see no sign of the Dj hauled train in it and the steam train is sitting on the main. To the right the Rangiora turntable.

With its compliment of Rangiora passengers aboard the train raced through the North Canterbury countryside. On the road alongside is the train chasers worst nightmare: a line of cars all attempting to pace alongside the locomotives.

Destination Waipara and time to shunt the train and turn the engines. I'm not quite sure of the logic in shunting the train but in both directions the steel carriages were directly behind the locos. Now home to the Weka Pass Railway ( Waipara has completely changed since 1969. All the infrastructure of the 1960s steam railway in these photos has long gone with, to my knowledge, only the main and loop lines remaining. Where the goods shed and station yard once were are the workshops and storage yards of the Weka Pass Railway.

Underway again and heading back to Rangiora.

Finally a bit of late afternoon sun as the locos take water at the north end of Rangiora yard. 


Rob Dickinson