Wednesday 19 February 2020

Wairarapa Line [0F]: Volume 6 Progress Update 6

Since our last update we have completed the historical maps for Petone-Lower Hutt, Petone-Waterloo and Woburn-Seaview (Gracefield Branch) using in all cases what areas we had previously covered with the earliest available aerial photography from the 1930s, and adding in the big NZR survey of all these sections from 1969. In fact there are NZR surveys at larger than usual scales for every line in the Wellington district from around this time, as well as some later ones. In this case, due to lack of time, we are not checking to see if there are any other surveys either earlier or later than 1969 that would add more detail to the maps, especially the industrial sidings at Seaview which have changed numerous times over the years. We will get 1969 coverage of Hutt Shops to add to what we have already completed in the past for this specific site as well.

This essentially completes the historical map coverage for these sections of line. Whilst the old main line on the western side of the Hutt River from Melling to Haywards is something we'd like to be able to cover, there are only a few surveys available prior to the closure date of 1954, and the 1930s/1940s ones are of too poor a quality to be worth the extra effort of trying to create accurate mosaics given the time interval and significant physical change in the landscape of the area, where road improvements have obliterated a lot of traces of the railway. There is one survey from 1951, No. 570, that is listed on the Retrolens site but for some obscure reason the actual scan prints are unavailable, so we are not confident of being able to see anything from that survey in time for it to be included in this release of Volume 6, although we will not rule out the possibility it could be added in future, but only if the scale and quality are good enough. 

Work is now moving onto the next section of the Greater Wellington suburban section, namely Waterloo to Haywards, which is within Lower Hutt City boundaries, and will take in the junction of the old western line which has been already covered in the previous version of these Gimp projects. These also have 1930s coverage in them already which was basically done in mid 2018 to provide an interesting comparison because the Hutt Valley line at that point in time actually ended at Waterloo so further north of that point hadn't even been built in the late 1930s. To recap the dates, Petone-Waterloo was opened in 1927, then there was a big gap until 1946 when Waterloo-Naenae opened, Naenae-Taita in 1947, Taita-Manor Park (old name Haywards) opened 1954 and the old Haywards-Silverstream route was deviated in 1955. So there was actually a lot of construction on this route that is covered by the available aerial photos.

As we said yesterday this will be followed by Silverstream-Upper Hutt which we expect will be along the same lines as Lower Hutt except we haven't got any existing maps for most of this route as it all dates from the 1870s and has changed little since then. The main points of interest, again using large scale NZR surveys from 1969, are likely to be found at Trentham with the army camp and industrial sidings in the area, and at Upper Hutt which used to be a freight yard as well as passenger and had some sidings as well, and we will also have a look to see if we can find any better coverage of the original route at Silverstream (which has been taken over by the Silver Stream Railway). Again we will not have time to look at any other surveys. It is going to be pretty hard to keep to the proposed timetable as it is.

(UPDATE: We have had a look at what we already have for the western line, and it is possible we might be able to include it in the maps, because it might be good enough to use just for the basic route, but not for stations. So we will take a look at whether it is usable in any form but this will be a very perfunctory look and it may well still be the case that there are no historical maps produced on the western side of the Hutt River and that we only use this coverage to inform a rough rendering of the diagrams for that side)