Re­stored ‘brother’ lo­co­mo­tives re­united

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - JEN­NIFER EDER

Two re­stored lo­co­mo­tives have been re­united, decades af­ter they shifted coal to­gether.

An or­ange lo­co­mo­tive has joined its green and gold "brother" in Blen­heim, and both would soon be pulling pas­sen­ger car­riages from Brayshaw Park to cen­tral Blen­heim. The en­gine was res­cued by the Blen­heim River­side Rail­way So­ci­ety from a Chris­tian camp in Mata­mata that could not af­ford the up­keep of its train tracks.

Vol­un­teer Gary Coburn says the lo­co­mo­tive was one of three built to trans­port coal from the Ohai mine in South­land in the early 1950s, and only two re­main.

The other sur­viv­ing ‘‘loco’’ was in fact the first bought by the so­ci­ety, about 30 years ago, Gary says. ’’They’re broth­ers, those two. They came out al­most the same time.’’

The former own­ers have al­ready re­stored the wheels and un­der­car­riage of the en­gine, but there is still plenty of work to be done be­fore the en­gine can draw pas­sen­ger car­riages along the river­side, Gary says.

Vol­un­teers have spent about $20,000 to buy and re­store the lo­co­mo­tive, bor­rowed from gen­er­ous en­thu­si­asts. A $20,000 grant from the Rata Foun­da­tion will help them fin­ish the job, and start pay­ing those en­thu­si­asts back, Gary says. ‘‘It’s like hav­ing a big mill­stone on the back of the ledger. It will be good to get rid of it.’’

The third ‘‘brother’’ lo­co­mo­tive is likely ‘‘dead and buried’’ - as in lit­er­ally buried some­where. ’’There was a ten­dency in the old days to put ob­so­lete lo­cos into a river or some­thing, out of prac­ti­cal­ity. The third train cer­tainly doesn’t ex­ist any­more,’’ Gary says.

Vol­un­teers have painted the lo­co­mo­tive bright or­ange, af­ter a lively de­bate on the best colour, he says. ‘‘When [the new lo­co­mo­tive] came to us, it was baby blue. There was some protest about the best colour - some wanted an­other green one. But when you go to Eng­land and you see the trains lined up in the shed they are all dif­fer­ent colours, and they’re beau­ti­ful,’’ Gary says.

‘‘Peo­ple liv­ing nearby will sit out on the porch with their cup of tea and see the or­ange loco go­ing by, and they’ll say, ‘when the grand­kids come down, we must take them for a ride on that or­ange loco’.’’

‘‘They’re broth­ers, those two. They came out al­most the same time.’’

PHOTO: SCOTT HAM­MOND/STUFF

Gary Coburn, Blen­heim River­side Rail­way So­ci­ety vol­un­teer Blen­heim River­side Rail­way So­ci­ety vol­un­teers, from left, Gary Coburn, Ted El­lens, and Ralph Hey­wood, with the new ‘‘loco’’.

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