Point’s star attraction celebrates 50 years
A ‘‘mad scramble’’ to get the trains running on time for Pleasant Point Railway’s 50th jubilee ensued after the shift to Covid-19 alert level 1 earlier this week.
Pleasant Point Railway and Historical Society president Bryan Blanchard said the South Canterbury town’s star attraction could not operate at level 2, so volunteers had
no idea whether a steaming day celebrating 50 years of the railway and museum would go ahead until the eleventh hour.
With the jubilee scheduled for tomorrow, Blanchard and the rest of the team set off on a ‘‘mad scramble’’ to get everything ready with the Government announcing on Monday it was easing lockdown restrictions.
‘‘We’ve already had a lot of emails from all over the place,
congratulating us on 50 years and saying they want to come along – so that will be good for us and the township,’’ Blanchard said.
Blanchard and his wife, Marian, have been involved with the society since the first meeting in 1970 and the last of the founding members.
‘‘To see what it’s like today is quite incredible, because when we started we had a rundown railway station with a bit of track. No engine, no
nothing,’’ Blanchard said.
‘‘It’s just hard to believe that 50 years have gone.
‘‘Quite a number of the founding members have passed on but if they came back today, I think they would be proud of what we achieved.’’
The railway had only had one steaming day since lockdown, on July 12.
Close to 800 people rode the trains that day, while a typical
steaming day would attract 150 to 200.
‘‘That was quite phenomenal.’’ Blanchard hoped this weekend’s event, which would include cake and night rides, would draw the same numbers.
Two steam locomotives, the 1922 Ab699 and 1878 D16, and the 1925 Ford Model T replica rail car will be operating from 10.30am-4pm and again from 7-9pm.
Preparing AB699 for the Pleasant Point Railway Museum’s, 50th anniversary, 1970 – 2020 special steaming day, tomorrow are, from left, Barry Cain, Les Coombes, Neville Walker, Mike Shears (top rear) Alf Dowall, Bryan Blanchard, and Stewart Frew.