The International Steam Pages


Once upon a time, long ago,
Steam Heat at Waltham Car Yard, September 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.

For most of the year a steam loco was needed to heat the carriages of the south bound express. This would happen six mornings a week at Waltham Car Yard and then a short time before the 08.40 departure the loco would pull the consist into Christchurch station. There it would be replaced by the train engine and with days work now done return to Linwood Loco.

As you can imagine it didn't need a top class engine to perform this duty and with the rundown of steam anything that could produce steam and was able to move a short distance seemed to be acceptable for the job. Cran Julian recently wrote that earlier in the year one of New Zealand's largest steam engines, a Kb, had been used for the job. Now I wonder did anyone get a photo?

When I did these shots in September though the Kb had long gone and I found an Ab and a Ja doing the honours. Christchurch must have been experiencing availability problems though as the Ab had been written off six months earlier. The Ja was a stayer and wasn't written off until the final demise of steam at the end of 1971.

Remember when Christchurch had a car yard? Rows of carriages that by 1969 were seldom needed and already, I think, a lot of the older wooden ones had been scrapped. It's 6th September 1969 and Ab754 is on the steam heat job. The railwaymen seem to be indulging in that time honoured pastime of railwaymen worldwide when they have little to do: attempting to hit one another with ballast.

Time to move the consist down to the station and the Ab gets underway past Waltham goods yard.

Smoke effects especially for the photographer? I can't recall but certainly the train wasn't moving very fast and I was able to run ahead to get my pictures. On the left, coming up on the main, is the loco that will run the express south.

One last shot.....this time going away. The now demolished Christchurch station can be seem in the distance underneath the road overbridge and just managing to sneak in on the right of shot an Ec on a Lyttleton suburban train.

A week later and it was Ja1267 on the steam heat job. The Ja must have got underway a little quicker as I only managed two shots this time. 


Rob Dickinson

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