Thursday, 30 July 2015

Wairarapa Line in western Hutt valley

Found on the internet, this is the original route of the Wairarapa Line between Melling and Haywards. This route closed in the mid 1950s with the section terminated at Melling. It was replaced by the Hutt Valley deviation which was a new line that had been built in the 1920s to open up the major part of the valley for residential settlement. 

A similar view today showing the four line highway that extends out across the river bed next to where the railway used to run.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Clutha Terminator 1992

In 1992, Central Otago conservationist Lewis Verduyn-Cassels and friends undertook a rafting expedition of the Clutha River, the last time the entire river would be fully navigable before the Clyde Dam was commissioned. In so doing they passed through the dam itself via the low-level diversion sluice, a never to be repeated feat.

All of the photos below are from the Terminator92 blog (see link at the end). Please note I was not able to find out how to contact the blog's owner to request permission to use these photos. I am happy to talk to Lewis if I can find out how to do so.

The bridge at Lowburn was left to be flooded by Lake Dunstan and is still there today, 13 metres below the surface.

Just upstream from the Cromwell Town Bridge of the 1860s. This was also left in place around 11 metres below the lake surface after the decking had been removed. The landscape of the Gorge has been radically altered due to slope stabilisation work needed as part of the hydro project.

Preparing to pass through the Clyde Dam. The four gates for the generator penstocks are to the left, while the diversion sluices through which the river flow passed during construction and lake filling are seen to the right. A few months after this photo was taken, the lowest level of these sluices was closed to start filling the lake. 

Entering the low level sluice. These were the first part of the dam completed, being designed to allow the river to be diverted away from the main dam body allowing dry riverbed construction. Views of the dam today show no obvious evidence of the mechanical linkages and machinery used to operate the control gates, which may have been permanently closed with concrete during the lake filling (as was done at Waitaki). However one of these gates has been retained to draw down the lake in the event of risk to the dam or maintenance requirements.

Exiting from the dam downstream. This scene is much the same today, except that the diversion channel is closed and therefore calm; all water now flows from the tailrace below the generators or the spillway - at the far side of the bridge in the distance.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Clutha Hydro Development

This is kind of topical with the maps project having a look at the Cromwell Gorge. I am getting some photos of parts of the Gorge from around that time for comparison with the 1962 photos I have been mapping from.

The preview image for this shows the Cromwell lookout in the township overlooking the lake.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Buller Bridge, Westport by H T Lock

The Buller Bridge at Westport by H T Lock. The  original source of publication not being stated at the West Coast Recollect site. (I have serious concerns about the amount of material on the site that is not properly sourced).

The bridge built in the 1880s? was shared by road and the railway line to Cape Foulwind until the mid 1950s then became road only until replaced around 1975. The bridge was then demolished but the spans were re-used elsewhere in the area.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Tracing the old Johnsonville-Tawa Railway

As we all know the Tawa Flat Deviation was opened in 1937 to replace the entire section of the NIMT from Wellington to Tawa Flat via Johnsonville. Whilst the first section of the route from Wellington to Johnsonville remains as a passenger-only line today (although until the 1980s it also served freight traffic), from Johnsonville to Tawa Flat (latterly Tawa) was closed and lifted.

As I wrote in this article here some years ago and reprinted in 2012, there are some remnants of the line still to be found even though much of it disappeared under the Johnsonville Motorway in the late 1940s. As I don't live in Wellington I have not attempted to trace the features referred to by Nicol Campbell (stormbird) to see what they look like today. 

Aerial photography dated from 1946 was used to attempt to determine the existence of any other features which has shown up a couple of overbridges. The rest of the maps that were previously drawn were reasonably accurate (understandably, since most of it was drawn from other source maps).

As we usually do with the NZ Rail Maps we start at the northern most end i.e. Tawa. The junction with the present line being prominent near the end of Duncan St. This road re-uses the railway formation up past through the old Tawa Flat station on the hill.

Here we see part of the curve at Takapu Road. Just past Redwood Station the old line had a bridge over it.

According to Nicol Campbell's account, the old railway along this section between Belmont Gully and Takapu Road is still extant just to the side of the motorway and can be traced on foot.

During construction of the Tawa Flat Deviation a temporary tramway was laid to take rock to a large crusher that was installed above the track. The old line crossed over the top of No.2 tunnel and had an overbridge near that location.

Belmont Gully and the viaduct site are prominent remnants of the old railway route today. There was also an overbridge on the old line about where the present day motorway crosses the route. Nicol Campbell also refers to the formation at the very bottom of this map which he says is a cutting that is still partly extant although most of it was filled in by the subdivision development.

Coming out from Johnsonville the old line deviated slightly to the east of the present terminus and the old station was slightly further north. This station survived for many years post closure of the line north of there; the present terminus dates from about the 1980s/90s due to the original site being redeveloped as a supermarket. The road overbridge is on the site of the original which crossed over the line as it headed north of Johnsonville.

So in summary the tangible remants are a few cuttings. I would certainly like to know about Nicol Campbell's statement as follows:
"The line then cuts across the motorway at a sharp angle and continues along its west side but slightly below road level. It is not continually visible from the motorway but because of the heavy earthworks needed in the hilly country the line can be easily traced on foot as it slowly descends through a succession of cuts and fills." 
He is referring to between the Belmont Gully and Takapu Road. What cuttings and fillings exist there today?