The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
Trials and Tribulations on a Saturday Morning 
25 January 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.

Time was fast running out for steam hauled goods trains on the Main South Line out of Christchurch. It was so close to end game that this series of photos are among some of the last I have of normal steam workings in Canterbury prior to the diesel timetable being introduced in March.

The plan was to find northbound train 224, which was due out of Ashburton just after seven, and follow it back to Christchurch. This time fate didn't smile on was a gloomy morning and with an extremely light load Ja1240 was fair racing along. Where did I manage the first shot.......well I've written nothing on the slide but reckon, most likely, it's on the approach to Rakaia.

And this bridge? Originally I thought it was over the Selwyn River but now am sure it's the north end of the Rakaia.

With very little work to do the loco crew entertained themselves at my expense and on seeing me they'd immediately produce steam.......but not where it was wanted! I recall hiding behind bushes and lying flat in long grass before jumping up at the last minute hoping to catch them unawares. Regrettably most times they won and the resultant photos were filed in the rubbish bin years ago. I held onto this one only because it included the 'dog box' station building at Norwood.

Eventually I gave up in disgust although made a last attempt as 1240 headed light engine towards Linwood Loco. Coming out of loco was an Ec class electric whilst in the background is Waltham Car Yard, home to Canterbury's passenger car fleet.

Once turned 1240 was run alongside the coaling crane to have the tender coaled. I'm not quite sure what the tarpaulins are doing over the steam crane though....maybe to keep the cold Christchurch easterlies at bay! Any ideas anyone? With the loco crew relaxing elsewhere I was able to manage shots of loco, crane and coaling stage without unnecessary steam effects.

(Cran Julian, who worked at Linwood at the time, got back to me with the following about the crane: 
‘In summer-time the tarpaulin was to help stop coal dust getting into crane-driver's cab while in winter-time it was protection from cold, wet weather as well as to help provide warmth. I always remember an occasion in 1968 when the crane-driver was moving his steam crane down to the depot for some minor repairs and left "chummy" up (funnel) and it caught the little sand-house facility above the track (used for refilling the sand-dome on top of the steam locos) knocking "the shit out of it!" Result sand all over the steam crane's swiffling motion gear so a visit to steam clean bay as well. Yes, I remember doing a few stints on the ashpits as well, but not very often, as we had other shed duties in the depot.’

A short walk from the coaling stage was the rather grubby Linwood station pictured with a Lyttleton bound suburban train drawing to a halt behind Ec10. The train seems to be much larger than I can recall the Lyttleton services being.......possibly there was an unbalanced working on Saturday mornings. The green bus on the right is an old Road Services coach now used as transport for the local track gang.

Next movement was Ec9 heading towards Christchurch with a goods train.

And last but not least it was off to Ferrymead to join a work party for the rest of the day. The 1922 built Heisler was in steam doing some shunting and this, as it turns out, is the only photo I have of it. The Heisler arrived at Ferrymead in October 1968 and was steamed on several occasions before the boiler certificate expired at the end of the month. This may have been the last time it was ever in steam.

Rob Dickinson