The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
Three New Zealand Railfan Excursions 1967 Style

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.

EXCURSION 1: Steam bowed out in the North Island the week before Christmas 1967. During the preceding months there were a number of "Last Excursions" run over parts of the system. I was lucky enough to travel north and join one of those trips which ran on part of the North Island Main Trunk. A Da hauled the train from Wellington to Taihape where Jb 1228 took over for the run to Raurimu. On the return leg to Taihape, including the Raurimu Spiral, Jb 1205 officiated before the diesel completed the run back to Wellington. The Jb 4-8-2 were part of the forty strong, coal burning J class supplied by North British in 1939. In the late 1940's twelve of the North Island engines were converted to burn fuel oil and reclassified as Jb.

On a gloomy winters day Jb 1228 puts on a show for the photographers shortly after leaving Taihape.

Jb 1205, on the return journey, tackling the 1 in 50 grades of the Raurimu Spiral. The overcast miserable weather had lasted all day!

Journey over and 1205 waits to be uncoupled from the train at Taihape. This was my first attempt at night photography: I took a number more in New Zealand over the next two years but regrettably none elsewhere.

EXCURSION 2: I was hunting through back numbers of The New Zealand Railway Observer and found the following ad part which read..........

"Put a ring around Saturday, 29th July 1967
You've tried or seen most Society and NZR 'double-headers', also three 'Ja's. Now try two 'Kb's! With 13 total, some 400 tons gross, a combination of selected photo stops and long fast runs, Christchurch to Arthurs Pass and back. This will be the first, and possibly the last time, that such a power pack is offered to rail connoisseurs in such a setting............
Fares - Adults about $3, children $1.50"

The thing that really struck about the ad was the fare! How prices have risen over the years.............

On the day Kb 968 and Ja 1244 took the train from Christchurch up to Springfield: a Kb had been failed the previous day and the Railways were unable to supply the second Kb until Springfield. There Kb 969 took over from the Ja and what followed was a day of fantastic photo stops in gloriously sunny weather.

The two 4-8-4's perform for the photographers on the long straight between Craigieburn and Cass.

On the final approach to the Pass and yet another great photo run from the coal fired giants over Rough Creek.

On the homeward journey the locos again strut their stuff for the photographers: this time on the 1 in 50 grade of Cass Bank.

This excursion was to be the final outing for 969 as prior problems with the loco had not been reported and rectified. By the end of the day the damage was found to be uneconomic to repair and the loco was withdrawn from service. Kb 968 worked for a further two years before making its final run on another railfan trip to Arthurs Pass on 22nd June 1969. This tale is looked at in a much later tale.

EXCURSION 3: The mainline locomotives of their day 88 F class 0-6-0 locomotives were constructed, by various builders, in the 1870s. A number were given names taken from the novels of Sir Walter Scott. F13, Peveril, was built in 1872 by Neilson & Co and was based in Christchurch for many years before being withdrawn from service in 1964. Placed in storage at Arthurs Pass it was then steamed back to Christchurch and used on a special train to commemorate the centenary of the opening of the Lyttleton Tunnel on 9th December 1967.

The Centenary Train waits to enter the tunnel on the journey to Lyttleton.

and on the way back to Christchurch leaves the tunnel in a smokey haze of its own making.

Peveril moves its train onto the Opawa Bridge during a photo stop.

After this trip F13 was preserved at the Ferrymead Railway in Christchurch and I understand is presently undergoing an extensive overhaul and will shortly be returned to service.

Rob Dickinson