Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Glenham Branch [1]

The Glenham Branch in Southland began at Edendale and ran to Glenham, a small rural locality at distance of 15 km. The branch was known as various names when being developed. The overall intention seems to have been to go further south than Glenham, to which the line was opened in May 1890. Wyndham at 6.5 km was the major community served by the line and became its terminus in July 1930. The extension to Glenham is somewhat similar to the Tokarahi Branch in northern Otago in that the earthworks done were quite extensive considering the very small population that was served by the development in its final form, and there must have been grander plans for both lines that were never realised. In the case of the Glenham line this took the form of a tunnel of about 300 metres length (as shown on Q4) which like the Tokarahi ones although long abandoned remains in good condition and still accessible today. The Wyndham branch as the line became in 1930 continued to operate until September 1962 when it was closed completely.
For our research one of the useful resources to be had from National Library is a 1925 cadastral map, some portions of which are shown below. In all cases clicking the thumbnail should open the full map in the browser.1925 is a useful date because the entire line was still open at that time. The bibliographical record for this map can be read here and there is also a link on that page to the online version of the map (“Archived copy”). From that we can see that the map is part of the NZMS13 series and that it was first drawn in 1902 according to the title. The map only really covers the Wyndham to Glenham part of the map but I haven’t yet looked up the map for the Edendale area.The second useful map of the area is the NZMS16 Wyndham township map published 1926 and first drawn in 1904. This is detailed enough to show us the layout of Wyndham railway station.
Glenh1 Glenh3
This extract shows the Mataura River crossing and the town of Wyndham. There is also a gravel reserve which possibly might have been used for ballast during construction. The Mataura bridge was separate structures for road and rail although there must have been a temptation to combine them given the size of the river.
Glenham railway station in the township. Street names today are quite different.
Glenh2 ghint2
Continuing on down we see the approach to the bridge across the Mokoreta River. Again we assume these were separate structures. The interesting point here is the land boundaries which imply a greater amount of land set aside in what would have been a useful location for an intermediate station (see next map).
So we can see in this present day map using the current land boundaries the way that extra land may have been provided for. We have no proof there ever was a station here but it is possible provision was made for one to be added later. But the historical map makes it reasonably clear there was no substantial population in the area and the closure of the line indicates it probably never paid its way.
Glenh4 Glenh5
The immediate vicinity of Glenham township where the railway at that time ended. Apart from the station we can see details of a school, post office, dairy factory and some other areas of land. The homestead is possibly the “Glenham homestead” referred to in official reports of the railway construction (AtoJs). Later maps (after the Glenham section closed) show there was also a school at South Wyndham near the tunnel.
The final point of interest in today’s post is the Glenham railway reserve south of the station. The AtoJs reports and other documentation suggests extending the line south was definitely contemplated. One of the line’s early names was the Edendale Fortrose Railway. Fortrose is on the coast south of Waimahaka, the closest point to it that was eventually served by a railway (Seaward Bush Branch). On today’s maps this corridor is still allocated by survey boundaries as far south as the side road where the widening suggests again allowance was made for a future station or siding.