Point’s star at­trac­tion cel­e­brates 50 years

The Timaru Herald - - Front Page - Joanne Holden

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.

JOHN BISSET/ STUFF

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.

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