The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
Of Electrics and Steamers at Christchurch, March - 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.

This was going to be a tale about the Ec class that once upon a time spent their entire lives happily rattling along the six or so miles between Christchurch and Lyttelton until I discovered that four reasonable slides does not a tale make. So I looked at the following tale, of an Ab on No2 Shunt, and discovered I didn't have enough decent slides there either. My answer to the problem has been to combine the two and trust you find something to interest in the result...... 

Quoting from the 2nd Edition of 'Cavalcade of New Zealand Locomotives' by AN Palmer and WW Stewart published back in 1965: 'The six Ec's entered service in February 1929, and since that time they have handled almost the entire traffic between Christchurch and the port of Lyttelton. At present the weekday timetable provides for two dozen passenger and a dozen freight trains each way.' Of course that was all a long time ago: the juice was turned off back in 1970 and the passenger service finished a few years later.

It was happier times in March 1969 though as Ec7 sat in Christchurch yard prior to leaving with a very short train.

Same day and Ec12 was on the passenger service seen here crossing the Opawa Bridge. Back then the service was still using wooden cars although later in the year these would be replaced by slightly more modern steel carriages.

Later in the day and Ec12 was still ambling back and forth with the passenger. Here it's passing under the road leading to the Lyttelton tunnel. The road tunnel had opened as recently as 1964 and was the main cause for the eventual demise of the passenger service.

Fast forward to August and Ec12 was again on the passenger. Apart from the boat trains I think all the Lyttelton passenger services left from this platform tucked away at one end of Christchurch station. By now the wooden cars had been replaced by fairly tired looking steel ones.

Yet another shot of Ec12: this time sitting outside the electrics shed down at Linwood on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Now to the steam engines of the tale. Well actually it's only one steam engine and it's only a minor feature of the photos. On 2nd August 1969 the Canterbury Branch of the NZR&LS were allowed to use Ab754, plus a carriage, on No2 Shunt out to Kaiapoi. My shots of that trip are real shockers: it was a dull day and most were over exposed but these three are worth sharing.

They were all taken at Christchurch: first on arrival at the platform, then as the train threaded its way through the goods yard and finally as 754 headed off to Linwood Loco. Check the photos out and then consider all the changes that have taken since place. Kiwi readers will know exactly what I'm talking about but for the benefit of others all that is left today is a double track running through the area.....gone is the station, the yard, probably all the wagons and most certainly Ab754.


Rob Dickinson