Thursday, 15 October 2015

Linwood Locomotive Depot, 18xx - 2015

Since Linwood Locomotive Depot is now being prepared for demolition here is a brief appraisal and some photos. I have not found any information as to when the depot was first established at the Linwood site except that the oldest file in Archives New Zealand's collection referring to it is dated 1897. The depot was the major base in North Canterbury for locomotives and the only one remaining after many others were successively closed due to changing operational requirements over the history of NZR and its successors. Over its many years, facilities were established to service steam, electric and diesel locomotives, and diesel and electric railcars. At its greatest extent the sheds and tracks required for these capabilities extended all the way from the main entrance down to the Ensors Road level crossing, but the gradual cutback in locomotive numbers with the changing role of NZ Railways and also the depot itself saw a significant number of these facilities disappear and and as much as half of the entire site has been sold off or leased since the 1980s.  

With the rationalisation of railway facilities in the Christchurch area from the 1980s onwards, locomotive overhauls in the district have been carried out entirely at Linwood. The Addington Workshops built W 192 (their No.1) was transferred to Linwood in the 1990s after the shops closed. In the mid 1990s the preparation and crewing functions were relocated to Middleton where they have been based ever since, leaving Linwood as primarily an overhaul facility. The staff amenities block which formerly had a separate entrance off Laurence Street, has been leased out since that time and its site was occupied by Leopard Coachlines, a passenger transport operator,  for a number of years and more recently was used by Fletchers EQR. This building is separate from the main depot and is not being demolished to my knowledge.

These photos are all from my own collection, no doubt others can be found on the World Wide Web. Aerial photos from Canterbury Maps and the maps from NZ Rail Maps.

 The depot had its own water tower for supplying the steam engines, now redundant.

The former Laurence St entrance and a couple of Leopard Coachlines' buses.

Ensors Road entrance when it was leased to Alstom in the early 2000s. Kerry Parry was the manager for this operation; prior to that he had a career at Addington Workshops and Loco as a locomotive fitter and also worked on the restoration of steam locomotives at Ferrymead.

The last of the old steam sheds ended its days housing old rolling stock. This included, for a period in the 1980s, DG 2451 which was owned by Rodger Redward for his abortive "Southern Rail" preservation project based at Prebbleton. Unfortunately all of the rolling stock for this project was held in his personal ownership rather than in trust and as such was therefore classified as matrimonial property to be divided up in his divorce case. As such this locomotive ended up being sold to Pacific Scrap and was towed to Sockburn in the early 1990s to be cut up. The back of the shed was somewhat open due to fire damage at this time.

For a number of years the amenities block had its own set of sidings for locomotive storage. Here we can see a number of DJs, DCs and DFs. The sidings were at some stage probably 10-15 years ago taken up and replaced by carpark; possibly when this part of the site was leased to Leopard Coachlines.

Early 1990s, DI 1102 / 1820 is seen en route to the Diesel Traction Group at Ferrymead for preservation. Also of note are the FH van and water tank support wagons for W 192 to the right.

During the late 1980s the practice of painting locomotive cabs grey was abandoned to save on masking and spraying costs. DF 6058 is here seen with its cab painted in the same orange/red colour as the long hood behind.

At the beginning of 1988 the Southern Rail site at Prebbleton was cleared due to non payment of lease fees and all of the rolling stock was seized and auctioned to recover the debts. Here are some of the carriages and other items stored in sidings next to the double tracks of the Main South Line.

Several disused Mitsubishi 0-6-0 shunters stored at the depot in the late 1980s. Regrettably almost all of these relatively modern and useful locomotives were scrapped around this time, although the three DSBs survived until sometime in the 1990s.

During 1988 the Rail 125 commemorations were held in Christchurch. DG 772 was used to haul a mainline excursion to Springfield during the event and is seen here about a month prior being prepared for a test run to Rolleston.

Also during Rail 125 here are some preserved steam locomotives at the Linwood Depot Open Day.

The last of the old steam sheds as mentioned above was finally demolished in 1989 with materials salvaged by the Diesel Traction Group for a proposed shed at Ferrymead that has yet to be built. The ladder used to reach to the roof of this building. The Fiat railcar segment was originally part of the Southern Rail collection that was kept when the rest of the Fiats were sent to Prebbleton for scrapping. As there was no interest in preservation at the time the cab front of this item ended up in a Bromley scrapyard and was later purchased by the RM133 Trust for parts and shipped to Pahiatua.

Mainline Steam Trust's KA 942 was based at Loco in 1992 for a series of mainline excursions in conjunction with the Diesel Traction Group and is seen here alongside DF 6064.

Another shot from 2005 showing two of Leopard's urban passenger buses. These particular buses had an interesting history being originally built as trolley buses for the Auckland system, which closed before they were commissioned. They then went to Wellington to be used on the trolley system there but only had a short operational life before being put into storage. They were eventually bought by Leopard and being Volvo B10M chassis they were able to be fitted with the Volvo diesel engines and transmissions and put into service on the Christchurch routes. As operated in the city some of these only had a two speed automatic gearbox and were certainly interesting to ride on in this configuration. Leopard eventually sold all of theirs to a Wellington bus operator.

These two images above and below are 1973 aerials of the Loco depot area.

These two maps (above and below) show the changes between 1973 and 2010 at the depot site. The major change is the lease in recent years of a large area to Fulton Hogan and latterly the Department of Corrections.