Historian tracking down railway info


Invercargill railway historian Alex Glennie is on the hunt for information again.

Mr Glennie has authored books about Southland railway history and has approached The Ensign readers for help several times through stories in the newspaper.

This time he is writing a book about the Waimea Plains and Waikaia branch railway lines.

Mr Glennie said he was looking for photographs, memories and other information.

‘‘So far there is a notable absence of photographs pre-1940.

‘‘I only have one image of the Kingston Flyer that was taken in 1927.’’

In his travels so far one notable find was a derelict tractor he discovered at the Waimea Plains Vintage Tractor and Machinery Club in Riversdale.

The tractor was a McCormick-Deering 014 tractor made in about 1939.

The New Zealand Railways Department used the tractor, which had concrete-filled rear wheels, for shunting at Riversdale and Waikaia.

‘‘All four wheels, the front are detached, have a steel flange around the wheels that enabled the tractor to be used on the railway lines.

‘‘The concrete was presumably to provide more weight and traction when in use.’’

One story he was told about the tractor involved alcohol.

‘‘One day the tractor was required at Waikaia.

‘‘The tractor could drive itself, so the railwaymen set it in motion towards Waikaia and then went to the pub for a beer or two and caught up with the tractor later.’’

Whether the story was true or not, it was entertaining and would be in keeping with many of the other stories he had heard about the shenanigans railway workers got up to, he said.

The people he had spoken to so far were very enthusiastic about the book being written.

‘‘It makes the whole job so much easier.’’

The Balfour and Riversdale Lions Clubs will publish the book.

If anyone has any information, photographs or memorabilia they can email Mr Glennie: [email protected]