Friday, 23 July 2010

Early Years of the Weka Pass Railway – Part 6 : 1986 (A)

Please note that this blog is a personal journal and does not purport to be officially representative of the Weka Pass Railway in any way.
1986 saw a number of important projects take place on the Weka Pass Railway. The engine shed structure was completed which enabled locomotives and rolling stock to be stored undercover for maintenance and restoration work. Work was also started on the construction of facilities at the Glenmark station site. At the same time as the station building was relocated from Mina on the NZR Main North Line, the laying of the loop was also commenced. Passenger trains were now able to run to Waikari, although severe wet weather in the winter forced a “temporary” closure of the line in September of that year, due to damage caused to the track. (In the event, it would not be until 1999 that the line was fully reopened)
Special trains were run on the Weka Pass Railway that year in conjunction with the Halley's Comet meteorological event, and the Society also successfully organised another excursion to Arthurs Pass. Several charter trains also operated on the line. The Society also took over the NZR Waipara Social Hall (now referred to as the staffroom). An approach was made to the Plains Railway following a visit to the railway by members in May and steam locomotive JA 1260 was leased to the Society. It reached Waipara in September.
1986 was also the year in which the first significant amount of track was recovered in the closed section of line beyond Waikari. At the Society's Annual General Meeting in April the lifting of the track beyond Medbury was approved. One month later the first group of members began work on the south bank of the Hurunui River. As noted previously the poor weather conditions caused enough damage to the track that the Weka Pass Railway had to close its main line and cease passenger services in September. It was now becoming apparent as to the true amount of work needed to maintain the operation of the 13 km of track in the Weka Pass. As a result the members were enjoined to attend a special meeting to decide the future of the line in November of that year. Among the recommendations were that the Society remove the track beyond Hawarden. This decision was approved although with some opposition.
Other work completed as 1986 drew to a close included repairs to JA 1260, work on the Price diesel shunter, purchase of a Plasser 04 ballast tamper from NZR, sale of recovered track materials from beyond Medbury, construction of a model railway for display at the Christchurch A&P Show, purchase of the EA 65 works wagon and holding a Christmas dinner for members. The society’s newsletter “Frog Rock Times” was published for several months under a different name, but resumed as the FRT later in the year.
January 1986. The closed section of line between Medbury and Hawarden  looking south. The area to the left was probably an old ballast pit.
January 1986. Closed section near the Waitohi River.
January 1986. Closed section near the Waitohi River.
January 1986. The old goods shed at Waikari.
January 1986. On the closed section, this is the Waitohi River bridge.
January 1986. The engine shed front is being closed in. Track has been partly completed on the right with the Price 198 shunter parked in front.
January 1986. This photo is included in particular as it shows the Glenmark station area prior to the laying of the loop. The irrigation ditch seen immediately left had to be moved further out to make way for the loop to be laid.
February 1986. A 428 is posed in front of the nearly finished shed.
February 1986. With the track and doors completed on the right hand side, the Price built shunter propelled the Price built A 428 into the engine shed. Brian Haslett at left with Bruce Holgate and Kevin East on the front of the loco.
April 1986. Track is now nearly completed in the left hand side but the doors are still awaited. The Waipara station footbridge can be seen to the left of the building, this was demolished the same year.
April 1986. Partially completed open carriages are seen here, being constructed on T class stock wagon underframes and bogies. Several other wagons of the type were stored offtrack at McCaskeys Crossing at the time. The roofed carriage seen here was finished by the end of 1986, but the other car was not completed for several years.
May 1986. On the south bank of the Hurunui River, members begin work to lift the track towards Medbury. Clockwise from left foreground we have Bob Blaikie, Ken Parker, Andrew Blaikie, ----- Kelly.
June 1986. This rather curious “train” was used to move points sets to the Glenmark station site in preparation for laying the loop. The Wickham car proved unequal to the grade across Old Main Road so the tractor was used to help tow the consist. From left are (unknown), Lindsay May, Bernadette Ball, Peter Gibson, John Blaikie, Charles Davison, (unknown), Graeme Horsham, Ken Parker, and Harold Feather on the tractor. And that is Craddock’s house in the background.
June 1986. Points parts being lifted into place at the west end of Glenmark station. Gary Kelly on the left. To the right, the orange object in the background is the recently acquired Broomwade compressor.
June 1986. Laying the loop is well in hand to the left of the picture. The irrigation race far left had to be moved as it originally was much closer to the mainline, and fill was then placed for the loop formation. In the right distance can just be seen the old branch home signal.
June 1986. The area seen alongside the engine shed was cleared to allow more sidings to be laid. The long ramp in the background forms one of the approaches to the station footbridge.