The International Steam Pages


Once upon a time, long ago,
To Cass Or Bust
An Enthusiast Excursion to Cass on Saturday, 4th May, 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.


An email from Cran Julian the other week said in part:

"Re Train Advice regarding an excursion with two C class locomotives to Cass, that was excursion I organised so as to keep Cs running in early 1968 otherwise they (last 4 Cs) would have made their last runs at Christchurch on 2nd December 1967."

And that was the reason two 1930/31 built, 70 ton, 2-6-2 shunting engines ventured out onto the Midland Line, on a passenger train, to tackle a trip totalling 140 miles with grades of up to 1 in 50. Cran's Excursion delayed the locos withdrawal from stock and probably contributed to both engines still being available later in the year for preservation.

My minor contribution to the event was to join a cleaning party at Linwood Loco on the Friday night to help remove accumulated grime from the Old Girls and make them more presentable for their big day out. Cleaning efforts were slightly compromised later in the evening by a shed humorist chalking over one of the loco tenders "TO CASS OR BUST"! 

At the first photo stop of the day 847 & 864 sit in the Aylesbury loop while train 162 rolls past on the main. 162 was the Springfield to Christchurch "goods with passenger accommodation" seen here hauled by one of the recently introduced Dj class diesels.

Once in the mountains, beyond Springfield, there were a number of photo stops.

After reaching Cass the locos were turned on the triangle, watered and then rejoined their train in the loop. By now the weather had deteriorated and heavy rain was falling. Once the railcar from the West Coast had passed the excursion was able to head back to Christchurch.

The rain eased slightly for the Cass Bank photo stop.

Heavy rain was falling at Avoca as Kb 967 crossed the excursion....... 

....but by the Broken River Viaduct photo stop the sun was starting to break through the clouds.....

.....and by Otarama Bank conditions were almost perfect.

Back on the Canterbury Plains, and in the late afternoon sunshine, there was one more photo run. This time on the curve at Kirwee.

A great day out.....despite the variable weather and my choice of Agfacolor!


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk