Trains en­hance spirit of Vic­to­rian her­itage

Otago Daily Times - - REGIONS - HAMISH MA­CLEAN hamish.ma­clean@odt.co.nz

IF Oa­maru Steam and Rail So­ci­ety gen­eral man­ager Harry An­drew were a ticket col­lec­tor, you would have to hand it to him.

Mr An­drew and up to 17 vol­un­teers on Wed­nes­days and Satur­days are the team be­hind the so­ci­ety’s Sun­day runs.

The so­ci­ety re­built — and re­painted — the 1962 Robert­son Steven­son & Co diesel lo­co­mo­tive that has done the weekly 2km trips to the Red Sheds at the end of Oa­maru Har­bour for the past four Sun­days.

Yes­ter­day the so­ci­ety’s work­shop doors were opened to the pub­lic and about 15 mem­bers were on hand to walk vis­i­tors through projects the so­ci­ety had un­der way; it was the first of 58 sched­uled events in this year’s Vic­to­rian Her­itage Cel­e­bra­tions pro­gramme.

A mem­ber of the so­ci­ety since 1986, Mr An­drew said the rail­way was an in­te­gral part of Oa­maru’s Vic­to­rian past.

‘‘The rail­way made Oa­maru,’’ Mr An­drew said. ‘‘Be­tween the port and the rail­way — that’s what made Oa­maru.’’

The cur­rent rail­way sys­tem the so­ci­ety uses for its Sun­day runs dated back to the start of Oa­maru, seats from 1904 were be­ing re­built, the so­ci­ety’s 1924 Hudswell, Clarke & Co steam lo­co­mo­tive was be­ing re­furbi­ shed — and ex­pected to be back on the track, for the first time in three years, within the year.

This year’s five­day fes­ti­val, with the theme of Crime and Pun­ish­ment, con­cludes on Sun­day with the an­nual street party, the Net­work Waitaki Vic­to­rian Fete, but al­ready vis­i­tors to Oa­maru have be­gun get­ting into the spirit of 19th­cen­tury dress­up.

Yes­ter­day, the Waitaki Val­ley Singers per­formed at St Paul’s Church, Oa­maru War Memo­rial Walk­ing Tours were of­fered, and the Waitaki District Li­brary hosted the il­lus­trated talk ‘‘Find­ing Mary: Shed­ding light on the life of a fallen woman’’.

PHOTO: HAMISH MA­CLEAN

Steaming back . . . Af­ter three years with­out a func­tion­ing steam en­gine Oa­maru Steam and Rail So­ci­ety gen­eral man­ager Harry An­drew says this ‘‘loco’’ will be back in ser­vice within the year.

PHOTO: HAMISH MA­CLEAN

Into the swing . . . Tak­ing to Har­bour St in fine Vic­to­ri­ana style are Fiona Liang, of Guangxi Prov­ince, China, and Li Hua, of Guangzhou, China. Both took time away from their Tekapo jobs to en­joy Oa­maru’s Vic­to­rian Her­itage Cel­e­bra­tions, which be­gan yes­ter­day.

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