Whis­tle stop visit for old steamer

Bush Telegraph - - Explore Pahiatua - By DAVE MUR­DOCH

Sun­day Fe­bru­ary 25 and a steam train sneaked into the Tararua on an ex­cur­sion from Plim­mer­ton to Pahiatua and re­turn.

There was noth­ing too se­cre­tive about it re­ally, loud bel­lows on the whis­tle and clouds of white and black smoke with ring­ing alarm bells as it crossed State High­way 2 by Woodville be­fore head­ing south to Pahiatua – the des­ti­na­tion ac­tu­ally be­ing the Tui Man­gatain­oka Brew­ery.

This was yet another ex­cur­sion or­gan­ised by Main­line Steam Her­itage Trust an or­gan­i­sa­tion started in 1988 af­ter the Fer­rymead 125 events in Christchurch. It is a New Zealand or­gan­i­sa­tion de­voted to the restora­tion and op­er­a­tion of his­toric New Zealand Rail­ways main­line steam lo­co­mo­tives. Reg­u­lar day ex­cur­sions and multi-day tours are op­er­ated over rail lines through­out New Zealand

Based around the col­lec­tion of steam lo­co­mo­tives that were pri­vately owned by Mr Ian Welch, the first ex­cur­sion be­gan op­er­at­ing on the main line from Christchurch.

De­pots have sprung up in Par­nell, Mid­dle­ton and later Plim­mer­ton from which Jb1236 – Joanne - came on Sun­day.

Joanne was pur­chased by the Rail­way En­thu­si­asts So­ci­ety 1971, be­fore later be­ing sold pri­vately and moved to MOTAT where it was placed on static dis­play un­til 1988 it was pur­chased by Ian Welch, and moved to Par­nell. Re­stored to main­line stan­dard and con­verted to oil fir­ing in 2001, gain­ing the 'JB' clas­si­fi­ca­tion in the process. JB 1236 moved from Christchurch to Plim­mer­ton in 2011. It re­turned to ser­vice in March 2017.

Joanne did not do all the work of haul­ing the six car­riages, a vet­eran black diesel en­gine be­ing hooked up in tan­dem for the jour­ney.

The 200 pas­sen­gers thor­oughly en­joyed the ex­cur­sion up the main line through the Manawatu Gorge on a beau­ti­ful day get­ting full view of the slips which have caused the road clo­sure. They trav­elled in a fleet of five im­mac­u­lately re­stored AO car­riages with large view­ing win­dows, air con­di­tion­ing, heat­ing and mod­ern com­fort­able seat­ing and a din­ing car.

They en­joyed their visit to Tui Brew­ery at Man­gatain­oka where they were hosted for the clas­sic Ki­wiana BBQ lunch and a tour of the brew­ery while the en­gine swapped ends at Pahiatua, then re­versed back to Woodville to turn around, ready for the re­turn jour­ney to Plim­mer­ton.

Nick Rogers Tui Ex­pe­ri­ence En­tre­pre­neur for Tui Brew­ery said this was the sec­ond such train visit and Main­line Steam, en­cour­aged by sell­ing out both trips, is plan­ning three more this year.

Joanne and her pas­sen­gers leave Woodville bound for Plim­mer­ton.

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