The International Steam Pages


Once upon a time, long ago,
More Canterbury Happenings
September 1967 to 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.


I've been going back through some of my earlier slide boxes again recently and have scanned a number that missed out the first time through. Some may be a little rough exposure wise so please bear with me remembering it's too late to go back out and photograph them again!

On the 9th September1967 Ab807 (North British No23176 of 1925) is making up the thrice weekly shunt at Methven for the journey back down the branch to Rakaia. It was a time when the branch was still busy and what better confirmation of this than the number of loaded, tarpaulin covered wagons being readied to leave.

Same day, same loco, different train. The loads from Methven had been left at Rakaia for another train to haul north whilst 807 and van returned to Ashburton. The only stop along the way was at Fairfield, one station before Ashburton, to uplift the days traffic offering from the local Freezing Works.

At this time Ashburton was home to two Ab class locomotives: one to work the Methven Branch on Monday, Tuesday & Thursday and the Mt Somers Branch on Wednesday & Friday with the other shunting the Ashburton yard. No doubt there was also a third job, most likely at night, allowing an Ab to be changed over with others from their home base at Christchurch.

Fast forward now to 4th May 1968 when Cran Julian ran an excursion to Cass using two C class shunting locomotives. The old workhorses weren't used to being more than a few miles from home base and the seventy odd miles into the mountains was a major effort. Time was needed at Springfield, both coming and going, to service the locos and refill their small coal bunkers. A Dg and C alongside one another make for an interesting size comparison.

C864's fireman readies another tub of coal to be tipped into the bunker. Refueling at Springfield was a joint effort between fireman and driver with a degree of skill and brute strength needed to tip the coal exactly where it was needed.

A going away shot at the top of the Craigeburn straight before the start of the downhill run into Cass.

Two black blobs in the rain at the head of the Cass triangle! It looks as if one of the crew is sitting on the points lever ensuring the loco can head out the other side safely. I doubt if Cass triangle had been regularly used for many a long year.

Local folklore said that on a Monday morning the Springfield Mixed was always Kb hauled. Local folklore can be wrong though as I discovered on 13th May 1968 when Dg785 & 751 were found waiting for departure time at Darfield.

My 1952 Working Timetable shows a mixed was scheduled to run between Belfast and Christchurch each weekday afternoon leaving at 4.38pm. Is this a shot of it? Regrettably no but the train may have once looked something like this. In reality though it's the No2 Kaiapoi Shunt on Saturday 18th May 1968 and the carriage is there for members of the Canterbury Branch NZR&LS.

Another of the Christchurch Shunting services was No7 seen here at Templeton. Ja1245 had left the last of the loads at the previous station and run down to Templeton light engine. Why I don't know as there certainly wasn't any tonnage waiting to be collected. Some years after this May 1968 shot the signal box was moved to Ferrymead Historic Park and is in use there today.

The old and the new at Addington with C864 and Dsc468 enjoying a break from their days activities. Nice play on numbers: 864 and 468! Thirty six year old C864 was very near the end of her working life having been withdrawn from service in May 1968. She was back on the road in June though, when this photo was taken, spending a few days on the Addington Shunt prior to working an enthusiast special to Methven.


Rob Dickinson

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