The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
One Fine Day............, 12th March 1971, Part 1

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.

Click here for Part 2 of this tale.

I'd been meaning to do it for most of 1970 and then as summer neared its end in 1971 meaning finally became a reality. You may ask just what 'it' was? Well over the previous few years I'd travelled north from Christchurch a number of times and chased steam trains once or twice but the weather had never been marvellous. I'd always felt there were some good photo positions to be had but to make the most of them, especially as there were now only diesels to photograph, a sunny day was essential.

A spur of the moment decision one sunny morning and I ventured forth to find north bound train No65. I can't recall exact times but 65 was due out of Christchurch early morning and would spend most of the day ambling through the North Canterbury countryside heading for a late afternoon arrival at Kaikoura around 120 miles away.

I must have found 65 before Rangiora and then decided arriving there would make a reasonable shot. Back in 1971 Rangiora was a typical country station serving a large town. I revisited last year and how things have changed. Apart from the station building, which is now a restaurant, all that is left of the once busy yard is the main line and loop.

Train engine was Dj1222 seen here shunting at the north end of the yard. To the right of the engine the turntable and in front of it, between the rails, a trail of leaked oil showing this was also Dg territory. The Dg's were notorious for leaking oil and in a number of these photos you can see their trail.

Shunting completed train 65 then had to wait for the northbound railcar to pass through. Doing the honours was forty eight seater Vulcan railcar No55.

There was always something appealing about wooden bridges and even a diesel on one could make for a pleasing photo.

Waipara, from the pedestrian overbridge, was always good for a photo. The gangers Bedford bus getting a wash, the large station building, the loco shed further behind and the goods shed. On the right a tin shed balanced on what appears to be a gangers trolley....I wonder where that was bound for.

North of Waipara the railway enters the hills and the countryside becomes more scenic. All I've written on the slide is 'before Spye'...........

: .....and on this one 'after Spye'.

At Ethelton the railway runs alongside the Hurunui River for a short distance. Maybe a bit of height with the river in the background may have produced a better shot.......something to try next time maybe.

Once I looked upon station shots as merely a useful fall back position if there was nothing more interesting to photograph. These days, with the demise of rural stations, they're a fascinating look back at the way the NZR used to be.


Rob Dickinson