The International Steam Pages


Once upon a time, long ago,
Of B's, Ww's and others..... 
Christchurch and nearby in 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.


The common theme in this selection is all the photos were taken around my home town of Christchurch or in the close vicinity. Steam was still in everyday use and you could head out, either solo or with friends, and be assured of finding something of interest to photograph. These shots were taken between April and November 1968 and look at the day to day happenings on the New Zealand Railways back then..........it's a case of unashamed nostalgia all the way.

Pacific Scrap Metals had opened a new site in Sockburn especially for cutting up steam engines. Ww684 and B304 were the first two candidates and arrived in early April to an almost pristine yard. Both were West Coast engines although B304 had spent a few months shunting around Christchurch in 1967.

Six weeks later and the Ww had gone to that great railway in the sky. B304, now minus tender and cab, had been moved further into the yard and cutting up was well under way. The next candidate for the cutters torch, B303, had already arrived and was waiting the scrappers attention. By a strange twist of fate the last two B class 4-8-0 in the country were cut up one after the other in the same yard. B303 has a full height tender while 304, in the previous picture, had a cut down version designed to give better visibility when running in reverse making her more suitable for shunting duties.

I caught Ja1267 entering Middleton yard in June. A number of south and west bound goods train started their run from Middleton and engines would run light from Linwood Loco around four miles away.

A short time later and 1267 made an unimpressive departure with what seems to be a fairly small train. From the look of the consist, which includes a crane, I would imagine this is a south bound service.

Tuesday 24 September and a night visit to Linwood Loco found Hillside built Ja1242, along with North British sister J1227, at rest inside the shed.

Also snoozing between duties was C847.....the last working C class locomotive with only a few more days service to go before being written off. My friend (and Locomotive Assistant at the time) Cran Julian recently wrote: "847 saw the week out working the Addington Shunt. Her last day on the shunt was on Monday 30th September 1968. She underwent a washout and boiler inspection on 1st October and was withdrawn from service as she required retubing. The Cís were popular on the shunts, what with their roomy cabs, their only drawback was they were kind of light on their feet when lifting long heavy loads of wagons but did that funnel talk sound good though."

Mid-morning 2nd October found Ja1269 in the loop at Riccarton with a ballast train. Normal motive power on the North Line was now diesel although Ab class steamers were still running the local shunts. This was the first time I had seen one of the larger Ja class north of Addington but it was not to be the last.

One month later and North British built Ab813 was working the No2 Shunt. Seen here soon after arriving at Belfast the driver is looking back down the train: most likely waiting for the shunter's signal to pull forward with the wagons to be put off here. Although most wagons are empty it's a large train for an Ab and I reckon it would have been a slow run the eight miles from Christchurch.

Most of the wagons were left at Belfast with the meat wagons being positioned close to the Freezing Works for later collection by the works shunter.

Here the much reduced consist crosses the Waimakariri River heading for Kaiapoi and journey's end before the return to Christchurch.


Rob Dickinson

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