The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
Another Canterbury Miscellany, 1968

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.

My thumb, my bike, the family car and of course trains got a fair workout in February 1968....................

I'd caught the early morning railcar, the 01.50am one, to Otira with the intention of photographing the Eo class electrics. Early afternoon I was offered a cab ride through to Arthurs Pass where I waited while the Eo's went back to Otira to return with yet another train. On a glorious summer Saturday Eo's 6, 3 & 2 have brought their train up through the Otira tunnel and are about to drop down into Arthurs Pass. Two months later and these forty five year old locos had been retired with the new Ea class taking over between Otira and Arthurs Pass. Number 3 has been preserved in working condition at the Ferrymead Railway in Christchurch.

I reckon this shot was a push bike job! Ja1247 races by, between Islington and Hornby, with train 144 on the last few miles of its journey to Christchurch. Its after 7pm, the light is fabulous, and the pressure is still on for an on-time arrival at 7.20pm. The train was going so fast I panicked and pushed the shutter way too soon but close cropping gives quite a pleasing result. 

The next two shots came about by catching the 10am railcar from Christchurch as far as Springfield then thumbing a ride on a goods to Arthurs Pass and back. It was another glorious day in the Canterbury High Country as Kb965 pulled out of the Cora Lynn loop bound for the Pass. No smoke and very little steam but great surroundings!

On the return journey 965 is seen waiting at Cass. The train looks like a genuine 'with car goods' but regrettably this was not the case. The car-van was attached at Springfield in the morning to take track workers up the line as far Arthurs Pass and then, in the afternoon, to return them home. Originally built as a carriage in 1906, converted to a car-van in 1945, reclassified for non revenue service in 1967 then finally written off in 1981 today it's part of the Ferrymead restored carriage fleet. Kb965 did not fare so well being withdrawn from stock and cut up the following year.
Late afternoon, as 965 arrived back at Springfield, the goods I was hoping to cadge a further ride home on was just pulling out. With no other train due for quite some time I headed for the main road and thumbed my way home!

There were always a pair of C class shunting at was just part of the local scene. So common in fact I never bothered with them and then it was all just about too late! 
My friend Cran wrote recently that the C's basically finished on 2nd December 1967 but when the decision was made to run the 'Two C's Excursion to Cass' in 1968 they returned to service on 19th February with C864 taking 17 hours to light-up n' steam. Two were in steam that week (864 & 846) with 846 being used on Addington Shunt.
I would have biked the half hour to Addington for this shot of 846 that week in February when it was first put back in steam. 846's resurgence didn't last long though as it was last in steam in April and written off in May.

On Monday mornings the overnight express from Invercargill would stop at Sockburn to set down passengers. The stop was made, I think, so servicemen based at the nearby Air Force Base could use the train if returning from weekend leave. Whether this true or not Ja1240 had stopped and was proceeding to give a great display getting underway again. 

These last two photos would have to have been a family car job! The branch from Hornby to Lincoln closed on 1 December 1967 and track lifting must have started soon after. Dsc420, with the track removal train, is seen moving onto the branch at Hornby. The clerestory roofed car is B321, built in 1877 it was down graded to non revenue service in 1941 and then written off in 1971. Today it has been restored to pristine condition by the Ferrymead Railway.

At the last station before the demolition site the train was remarshalled and is now being propelled towards rails end. Crane 197 was Ransomes & Rapier built in 1943 and the Railways first diesel rail-crane. It too has been preserved and still sees use on the Weka Pass Railway.

One of the great things about this hobby is the willingness of others to assist in fleshing things out when your own knowledge is a bit this miscellany invaluable assistance has come from Cran Julian, John Agnew, Paul Markholm and Peter Gibson. All helped with information or pointed me in the right direction. Along with information sourced from the New Zealand Railfan magazine the end result is, I hope, an interesting look at times gone by on New Zealand Railways.

Wilson adds this received after he circulated this tale to his list:

Every so often I get feedback that I think should be shared and recently Jon Shingleton sent me a story about Kb965 and her clean smoke-box which added to my original story rather nicely. 
It turns out the smoke-box was actually tarred but I'll let Jon tell the tale........ 

" 965 was always a pig. With 966 and 969 written off and 967 and 968 without boosters, that left only 965 and 970 with operational boosters. The Springfield jokers weren't too pleased with 965, always rough riding, so they would book her up for repairs so she would get sent to Linwood. With minimal repairs being carried out at Linwood, the guys soon got wise to what Springfield were playing at and the shed driver (Jack Booth?) booked the cleaners to have the smoke-box painted. She was then sent back to Springfield! That story comes from Hugh Isdale."

So it looks as if my photos were taken soon after 965 had been returned to Springfield once more. Maybe the tarring worked though! After I took my shot at Cass (above),  965 headed off in fine style. Once underway and satisfied all was well the driver stood in the doorway behind the fireman enjoying the late afternoon sunshine as 965 took itself up Cass Bank....he returned to the controls as the loco topped the bank.

Soon after that Jon sent me a great night shot of 965 taken by Robert Finley and with Robert's permission I'm delighted to forward it on. To me there is a timelessness about this shot and it seemed as if it could have been taken anytime in the fifties or sixties. The well lit loco, connecting rods down, sitting at just the right spot at the end of the platform, a uniform rake of carriages and the crewman in the railwayman's uniform of the time (minus cap).....wonderful stuff. Turns out the picture was taken at Springfield in October 1966 while 965 was running train G77 to Arthurs Pass with the crewman pictured being Driver Allie Godbaz.

Rob Dickinson