Cemetery tour a tribute
New Zealand’s worst train disaster will be remembered this Sunday during a tour of Woodville’s historic Gorge Cemetery.
Aboard the Wellington to Auckland Christmas Eve express that was wrecked in 1953 when the Tangiwai Bridge collapsed, were brothers Neal and Paul Thomas. The pair were travelling to a church youth camp, and were among the 151 passengers and train crew who died that night.
Their graves will be visited as part of a tour that focuses on people who perished under tragic circumstances.
‘‘Many of those buried in the old Woodville Gorge Historic Cemetery have been victims of tragedy. In pioneering times specialist care as known today was not readily available, the skill of the local doctor being the only resource,’’ tour organiser Ray Allott said.
Another tragic victim was 7-year-old Gertrude Rose Curry.
The girl was removing a kettle from the fire in December, 1900, when the sleeve of her dress caught fire and she was quickly enveloped in flames, resulting in fatal burns.
In 1889, George Kirby was working on the railway through the Gorge, slipped and fell 12 metres into the river.
His widow received compensation of two guineas – possibly the equivalent of $100.
A conducted grave site tour takes place Sunday, July 31 at 2.30pm.
Access to the cemetery’s upper gate is across the railway line off State Highway 3 on the Woodville side of the gorge.
The wreckage of locomotive Ka 949 after the Tangiwai Bridge disaster.