The International Steam Pages
Once upon a time, long ago,
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.
Another very appropriate title for this tale could be 'Big Boys and their Big Toys' but we'll keep the title succinct and to the point. It was all so long ago my memories are a bit vague anyway but I think it all happened something like this.........
I'd got a phone call the previous evening, I know I wasn't expecting it, and I can't remember who called but the message was full of intrigue and certainly no further details were forthcoming. 'Come down to Linwood tomorrow morning at such and such a time. Bring your camera and don't let on to anyone else where you're off too.'
Meet up time must have been shortly after the Express headed south so most likely around nine. I can't recall who was there......probably only three or four plus Master of the Intrigue and Event Organiser, Cran Julian, who along with one of the Drivers intended to create a line up of steam locos the variety of which Linwood had probably never seen for many a long year if at all.
A Dj was used to position the steamers with the Driver at the controls, Cran was the shunter and for some reason I became the Loco Assistant.......well if truth be known all I did was sit in the LA's seat and keep a watch on my side of the consist to make sure no one got in the way. Even managed to push the vigilance button a couple of times!
It wasn't so long ago that this sort of photo would have been the Linwood norm with four different classes lined up.
And then there were five but I doubt if Greymouth loco We375, on the left, had ever been in steam at Christchurch.
The final line-up in all its glory. From the left we have:
You could almost believe that the line-up, along with diesels, could be for real but from a different angle the lack of coal in the steamers' bunkers gives the game away and shows it's all just pretend!
The 'fires' have all gone out and only the wisp of steam from 1234 reminds that one engine was 'for real'.
And doesn't that one engine look magnificent!
Event over and the boys have to put their toys away! The lead engine is 1234, the rear 968 and the one in the middle.....I don't know.
Dj1244 pushes the two tank engines back to where they came from. It looks as if someone is riding in the We cab and others between the runner wagon and the steamers. Doubt if that would be possible today!
In the interests of accuracy I ran my tale past Cran last week and he expanded on my recollections: 'Those involved were top roster engine and railcar driver Ron Sinclair and myself. Ron and I had worked together for few days earlier in the week when the plan was hatched. The deal with Linwood Loco Dayshift Shed Driver Ted Bishop was we’d shunt the steam shed and outside tracks to his list requirements afterwards. The only local steam enthusiasts to know in advance was yourself and three others otherwise it was very hush hush.
It was certainly a big shunt before and afterwards to get the required classes together. Just a pity room wasn’t also available to incorporate other famous locos such as J1212 and Kb965. Work on cutting up 965 started on 22nd Sept 1969.
Well Cran yourself and Ron certainly organised a brilliant event, thank you......when can we do it again?