Sunday, 18 November 2018

Kingston Branch [3A]: Makarewa - Thornbury 1 (Oporo)

For those of you who must have thought there was an avalanche of posts coming last Monday because I posted four in one day, sorry to disappoint you. That was a just a catch up on material that I had shared throughout the preceding week on Facebook. This week has been lacking posts as well, but there is only one post coming out today, as the week has been largely occupied with other things. However in this post we are starting a new series, which covers the first part of what was the Tuatapere Branch. It started at Makarewa, and along the way took in Thornbury, which was where the Wairio Branch diverged off. Since the 1980s, Makarewa-Thornbury has been incorporated into the Wairio Branch, which in more recent years has become the Ohai Line, having itself incorporated what was formerly the Ohai Railway Board line, latterly called the Ohai Industrial Line. 

I don't know how many posts will be in this series except that there aren't any more coming for a while after this one because I am prioritising finishing the rest of the Kingston Branch going north to Kingston, and its northern branches, before again turning my attention to the western branches of the Kingston Branch (Tuatapere and Wairio). And even then, progress on the Kingston Branch proper will be subject to priorities for the Otago Central Railway. This post has been convenient to do because it falls within the boundaries of the last of the high resolution LINZ aerial photos of Invercargill to Makarewa that we have been working from for the Kingston Branch itself up to now. When I did this section I had two choices: I could have used 0.1 metre imagery or 0.05 metre imagery. Both of them got downloaded to my computer, but on discovering that the 0.1 metre stuff covered a much larger area, as far north as Makarewa, that is what I chose to use. As it happens, there is a small part of the west line as far as Oporo that is also included.

In looking at retrolens photography it was soon possible to discover that there was a ballast pit with its own siding clearly visible and in operation in an aerial photo taken in 1956 so this is the subject of today's post. The first two photos are the Oporo station with its sidings, and the second pair are the ballast pit and its siding. There is remarkably little to be seen today of the ballast pit and station site, and even four bridges have been eliminated in the short section of the route between the river and the station.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Kingston Branch [2F]: Makarewa-Lumsden, Mararoa-Kingston. Mossburn, Hedgehope, Tuatapere, Wairio

So now that I have mapped Invercargill-Makarewa and Lumsden-Mararoa on the Kingston Branch, work will be continuing to map, firstly, the rest of the Kingston Branch, followed by the Mossburn Branch, Hedgehope Branch, Tuatapere Branch, Orawia Branch, Wairio Branch and Ohai Railway Board section. This will proceed at a slower pace than previously on the KB as I am going to continue with the Otago Central Railway as well.

Aerial coverage north of Makarewa for the Kingston Branch varies with some areas well covered and others not. Some areas are covered by various surveys, notably one from 1964, and some from 1938 to 1946 of lesser quality that mean I can get coverage of most of the way from Makarewa to Lumsden, particularly with the official NZR survey of Winton, and on the Hedgehope branch there is also good quality coverage of Browns when it was still open. North of Lumsden there is good quality coverage of most of the stations to Athol, plus the NZR survey of Kingston has showed up. This is really quite a good situation overall for a rural line because many of them don't have any high resolution coverage at all. The Mossburn Branch is also well covered. I haven't investigated the entire length of the Tuatapere or Wairio lines yet but major stations have the NZR surveys.

So work on that will be starting soon but the timeframe is going to be a bit more disjointed as it depends on what I am working on for Otago Central. In other words all of Volume 12 is being worked on to completion, at which point I can look at putting together a PDF for Volume 12 as well as all of the online maps.

The web site has had the latest revision of the map keys (no. 52) added to it which is current as of yesterday. As usual, older maps will be updated to the new specification in their next revision.

Kingston Branch [2E]: Invercargill-Makarewa 5 (Makarewa 1)

Makarewa (12.12 km) was an important station on the Kingston Branch (Ohai Line) because it used to be a junction. This was where the Tuatapere Branch started off the Kingston Branch. But since the last part of the Tuatapere Branch from Thornbury to Riverton closed in 1978, Makarewa to Thornbury was incorporated into the Wairio Branch, and since the last part of the Kingston Branch from Makarewa to Mararoa (along with the Mossburn Branch from Mararoa to Mossburn) closed in 1982, Invercargill to Mararoa was also incorporated into the Wairio Branch, which is now called the Ohai Line.

Since metrication occurred before the closure of the Tuatapere Branch and since it is likely that branch was metricated (the working timetable of 1974 would show this but I don't as yet have that available for reference for lines in Southland), km pegs for this line were probably just renumbered when it was put into the Wairio Branch. As Makarewa was just past the 12 km peg, it was probably easy to just renumber the existing km posts from Makarewa to Thornbury rather than re-measure all the distances. This is of course speculation but we don't have many Way and Works records available for research as they tended to have been discarded when the various offices closed up - there are few chainage books for example. It was a real gift to have chainage books for the Otago Central Railway and these actually got into Archives New Zealand via private collections rather than being transferred from NZR.

The reason for me to say this is that mileposts or km posts are really just a namespace because it is not routine to remeasure when a distance changes in a line and so there end up being short or long miles (or km) and so it seems likely the existing pegs in the Tuatapere and Wairio branches just had new numbers put on them when the Wairio Branch took in pieces of the Tuatapere and Kingston branches to become the name of the entire route from Invercargill to Wairio, which we assume occurred possibly starting in 1978 and continuing through 1982.
The other notable thing about Makarewa is the old freezing works which is right beside the western side of the Ohai Line as the line curves around to head west. This was originally quite a major plant and even had accommodation and recreational facilities for people that worked there. There was an accommodation block probably for single employees as well as a lot of housing on the opposite side of the main road, a bowling green is also visible on the older aerials. All this stuff as well as many plant buildings are gone now and the railway sidings are no longer in use. 

Makarewa was an island platform (the platform and station building are gone) and also had a bridge to the south across the Makarewa River (Bridge 6) that is still partly decked (it was formerly decked both sides) because shunters would have to be able to walk across the bridge when shunting through the mainline points at the south end. 

Maps are from 1972 and 2015.

Kingston Branch [2D]: Invercargill-Makarewa 4 (Lorneville 1)

Lorneville is the first major station north of Invercargill (7.46 km) on what was the Kingston Branch (Ohai Line today). It is significant for the activities associated with livestock. There is a major stock yard to the east side of the railway that formerly had sidings. To the west is the Alliance freezing works which is connected by a siding about a kilometre in length. These works are still in operation as are the sidings. The maps don't cover the works itself since I only have 2015 aerial photography of the whole site. These maps are 1964, 1974 and 2015.

Kingston Branch [2C]: Invercargill-Makarewa 3: Waikiwi 1

Waikiwi is a former station north of Invercargill on the former Kingston Branch (now Ohai Line). It was 2.73 miles (2 miles 58 chains) from Invercargill. There were several sidings there but the type of traffic that went through Waikiwi is currently unknown to me. A little north of Waikiwi was the McSkimmings Pipe Works which had its own siding. These maps are from1964, 1972 and 2015.

(Note: We use only distances from working timetables. At the moment the last working timetable I have that mentions Waikiwi is 1952, therefore the distance is in miles)