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.