Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Addington Workshops 20 years on [3]: The Addington Curve

Today’s post is about the legendary Addington Curve and its place in posterity.
Addington is the junction of the Main North Line and the Main South Line. As the Main South Line goes from due east through due west at Addington, the MNL starts as a 90 degree curve which is well known to railfans and the travelling public. This curve originally faced in the direction of the original Christchurch station in Moorhouse Ave, for well over 100 years. This meant that an important role of the Christchurch yards was to marshall trains and traffic to or from the North line. Even once the original Middleton yards became established in the early years of the 20th century, Christchurch still retained its important role until the mid 1980s when rail lost its long distance freight monopoly.
The Addington Curve is significant to the Addington Workshops due to the fact that until the 1990s it passed right on the eastern boundary of the workshops. The new curve that has been opened since actually passes through the middle of the workshops site and required an advanced degree of building and site demolition works before the track could be laid and completed. As shown on the map (below), Tyne Street and Lowe Street on the eastern boundary had to be truncated to allow this new curve to be laid. The land occupied by the old curve remained unoccupied for quite a long time and has only been recently developed, in the last 5 years approximately.
The relocation of the curve was done in order to enable the Christchurch and Middleton yards and many other facilities to be combined at Middleton. Christchurch sat on commercially valuable land and the extra capacity of both the station and yard was no longer required. The relocation of the Christchurch passenger station was inevitable once this was done. Its new location in the middle of the curve is about the closest to the central city that it could possibly be placed with the decision to remove the original curve. However in hindsight the lack of a full triangle must be seen as a short sighted approach due to the ongoing debate about the ideal location of the station. Similarly the sale of the original route land which has been partly developed, and failure to secure it for future use, shows a regrettable lack of foresight considering its relatively small area and value. Although the current story is that there is a claim that a smaller triangle can be developed closer to the station.

View Larger Map
Removal of the original curve also required the removal of the sidings that were associated with it at the time. Consequently the Fletchers siding was lifted along with the saleyards although both were disused by that time. These along with the MNL made up the four tracks that were crossed by the Lowe Street footway. Although there are some issues with the amount of land that is enclosed by a triangle, the site in the case of Addington is so large there was no good reason why the original curve could not have been retained and the station developed to the east of the junction, or even at the traditional Addington station site.
[Photos will be added to this article and it reposted later]

Addington Workshops 20 years on: [4] Recent Site Development

For this article I am going to make use of Google Earth’s historical footage feature to illustrate how the site has been developed in the past seven years. This can’t be shown in Google Maps so perhaps you should install the Google Earth software and have a look yourself.
The oldest footage is dated April 2004 and shows that the Bunnings store and two other blocks of shops to its south west abutting the railway station were completed along with car parking. The Plant Zone site east of Whiteleigh Ave was undeveloped at this time, with Bell Street still visible. In the triangle between the MSL, present and former curves, the foundations of the old wheel lathe shed were visible indicating its recent demolition. Track was still in place and some wagons were in storage there. There was still a substantial block of the Tower Junction site that was undeveloped at this time.
The next date of coverage is December 2004 only for the triangle where work was now clearly under way on the foundations of the Turners Auctions building, and adjacent to which there was also a clear sight of the route of the Blenheim Road deviation.
By January 2005 the rest of Tower Junction except for the plant zone site had been completed. Earthworks for the embankment of the Blenheim Road deviation on the south side of the railway line had also commenced. A year later a contract had just been let for the deviation and preloading was going on on the north side to compact the ground. The Turners Auctions site was completed and opened with access off Lester Lane, although by this time Detroit Place which became the permanent entrance sometime later was more or less complete. The car dealerships on the north side of this new street were not actually built at this time. However the plant zone site had been developed by this stage.
Since January 2006 the major changes have been from the building of the Blenheim Road deviation which was the last major development of former workshops land. By this date the old Way & Works depot on the right angle corner of Moorhouse Ave was demolished in order to make way for the entrance to Detroit Place along with a commercial building. A premises at the rear of a Moorhouse Ave building was demolished and its former railway siding in the Addington North yard was torn up.
One year further on the route of the road deviation was well formed although the railway was not yet bridged. Detroit Place was open and being used as the main entrance to Turners, the Lester Lane entrance having been closed by the overbridge construction, which also required Bunnings to move its yard entrance on the north side; the car dealerships premises on Detroit Place were under construction. There had also been an encroachment into the Addington North yard with a piece of former railway land being sealed as a carpark. Presumably this piece at the rear of a business premises replaced some taken from the front when Moorhouse Ave was realigned into the Blenheim Road deviation.
The next date is February 2008 and the Blenheim Road deviation had been open some time by then, because the old bridge further north was demolished by this stage, although a small part of the foundations were still being knocked down at this time. But by March 2009 it was definitely all gone. Since then there has been little change although the most recent photos show some buildings or storage on part of the old Blenheim Road next to Deans Ave. The saleyards site has not been developed all this time and remains vacant today, its owner being in Korea for much of that period.

Addington Workshops 20 years on: [5] Photos, Demolition, Redevelopment

I have many of these photos already in my Picasaweb sites. The main albums being these ones:

Because it is easier just to keep them there I am planning that I will just put captions onto these photos and geotag them so that you can look at them in the albums rather than digging them out into blog posts. This post will be updated when this has been done.
I’ll also write some brief notes about the demolition of the shops after closure. The actual date that the shops closed is somewhat uncertain with some sources saying 1991 and others 1992. However I do remember when the announcement of its closure was made and that was December 1990 just after the General Election, the announcement rather obviously was held over by the Labour government of the time for political reasons.
From that time on I remember various stages of demolition. Some old locomotives were taken to the shops site for storage and later demolition, particularly old DSAs and DJs. Sometime in 1992 I remember going in to see that J 1211 was stored in the site on a siding, and there was also a 40 ton steam crane therein. I also remember the social hall being knocked down, as it was a well known building right on the outside boundary on Lowe Street. Unfortunately I have very few photos of the Shops as a whole (whether open or closed) because film was expensive.
The old railcar shed or some other building at the northeast corner was for a time used to store bulk toilet paper until it burned down. I think in a previous post I suggested the joinery shop might have been the building used for this purpose.
One thing I didn’t see anything of was the demolition of Plant Zone or the signals depot directly opposite. Likewise the Addington North or South yards. It wasn’t until 2003 that I was making much effort to take any photos at all around these areas when I first had access to a digital camera. Hence practically all of my collection of photos dates from that time.
What shows up on aerial photos and old plans (not the ones I have put onto my maps) is that there were pockets of railway housing dotted around the workshops. I will have to try and find aerials of the site to determine exactly where but I believe there was quite a lot on the west side of Clarence Street in particular and probably heading down to the north side of Bell Street. Both this street and another residential part, Margaret Street, have long since disappeared.
The main workshops and adjoining sites stayed vacant for more than 10 years. It was really not until the Ngai Tahu compensation settlement was concluded in the late 1990s that any development was taken seriously. That included the part that the council bought for the Blenheim Road deviation. There was much criticism of the fact that the land had to be purchased at commercial price from Ngai Tahu when the Crown had sold it at a much lower price some months earlier to the iwi. However it appears unlikely the Council had any choice as Ngai Tahu had first right of refusal on Crown land under the terms of their settlement. It was some time after 2000 that the first proposals for Tower Junction, as the development was called, came to public notice. The Bunnings store was the first part built on and the plantzone site, the last. The old wheel lathe building in the triangle opposite the station, the last of the workshops buildings, was knocked down around 2003/4 and the site was developed for Turners Auctions. Later on Detroit Place was built on the Main South Line boundary for access to Turners. The old Way & Works site was used as access to Detroit Place while it was under construction, after the buildings had been knocked down. The road deviation was built during 2005 and the previous overbridge demolished early the following year.
At the time of writing not all of the former Addington Curve land has been developed at all with only the part occupied by the Detroit Place car dealerships and Blenheim Road deviation built over. However the Addington North yard where a couple of the old tracks until relatively recently still curved up and stopped at the fence, has now largely been torn up and redeveloped as carpark, in part I believe as compensation for land and parks taken off the front when the deviation was built. There used to be access off Moorhouse Ave to the Addington Signalbox. I am not sure if this is still the case or whether alternative access has been developed since.

Addington Workshops 20 years on [2]

When I started working in rail preservation in 1985 the Addington Shops were still open and a familiar feature of the rail landscape in Christchurch. The Ferrymead Railway used to hold monthly members in the Social Hall which was next to the Main North Line at the end of Lowe Street (as seen on the maps below).

View Larger Map

View Larger Map
The left hand map shows the footprint of the social hall. The right hand map shows the surrounding area in more detail. Lowe Street then was longer than it is now as indicated by the thick black line. Tyne Street was also longer. The aqua and purple lines represent the Main North Line and sidings respectively. There was a pedestrian footway with its own crossing bells over the tracks at this point. Car parking for the workshops was located at the end of Lester Lane on the far side of the tracks and directly in front of the social hall. There were four tracks going across the pedestrian crossing, as shown on this S&I diagram of the area:
As shown upper left corner these tracks were the two saleyard siding tracks, the Main North Line and the Fletchers siding, which, I believe, also connected to the Publicity & Advertising Branch siding nearby. Whenever we met in the hall the meetings were usually disturbed to some extent by trains going past on the MNL just outside the front door.
Within just a few years the workshops had closed and Ferrymead was compelled to find another location in which to meet. The buildings were torn down and a new connecting curve track (red line on the maps above) was laid requiring the two streets to be cut short. The building outlined in the right hand map where the current line goes through was the works manager’s office next to the main entrance off Lowe St. The rest of the buildings were gradually dismantled. One of the last was the old joinery shops at the north-east corner, used as I believe a store until it burned down.
The last building left on the site of any sort was the wheel lathe shed (yellow in the maps) which stayed until the 2000s when Turners Auctions site was developed.