The International Steam Pages


Once upon a time, long ago,
The Diminishing Canterbury Steam Scene
August 1968 - March 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.


This tale is another miscellany of steam from around Canterbury plus, for variety, a railcar photo. The tale both starts and finishes with North British built J1227. In the first photo 1227 is a living, breathing, working steam locomotive: within six months she had become a derelict sitting on rotten row. This was the fate of the majority of the South Island steam fleet by the end of March 69 though.

It was still happier days when, on 15th August 1968, I travelled in the van of train 241 between Timaru and Pukeuri. J1227 stopped for water at the north end of Studholme yard and I was able to grab a photo as I raced for the general store to buy lunch. Yes, back in 1968 Studholme had both a store and a pub! The luncheon options were limited though and whilst I chose a packet of biscuits the storekeeper sliced some cheese from a large block. By the time I got back to the station watering was completed and the train had pulled forward to wait for that tardy passenger.

The following day saw Kb968 waiting out the back of Timaru shed for its next assignment. In front of the Kb, next road over in the shed, you can just make out the distinctive shape of tank engine Wab794.

Just before 6pm on 21st November 1968 Rm111 powers through Hornby, on the outskirts of Christchurch, with train 161: the railcar service between Christchurch and Dunedin. My thanks to Royce Flynn for rescuing the colour of this photo and turning it into a presentable image.

The end of Canterbury steam was getting closer when, on 22nd January 1969, I saw Kb970 in steam for the last time. With a dead and already written off Ab781 in tow, 970 was being grossly under utilised as it trundled through Sockburn with a very lightweight 224 goods.

My last shot of yet another steam locomotive hard at work. This time it's Ja1266 struggling out of Middleton with what must have been a fully laden 147 goods. The date: 28th February 1969.

Then on Sunday 16th March 1969 the diesel timetable came into force. It was a changing of the guard and that night I went down to Christchurch station to watch what was probably one of only four engines in steam in the South Island that night (except for the West Coast). Ja1245 was train engine on 189 that night. Although an overkill to show all three photos each offer different aspects of a now vanished New Zealand railway scene: Ja1245, train 189 and the station itself all no longer exist.

Later that month, exact date unknown, I photographed J1227 sitting at the head of a line derelicts at Linwood. I didn't bother taking the numbers of the others......... 


Rob Dickinson

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