Steam send-off


A whis­tle blast, a burst of steam, a plume of smoke, a clat­ter of pis­tons and Colin Steven­son took his last trac­tion en­gine ride aboard a wagon hauled by the seven-horse­power ‘Dixie Flyer’ on Satur­day.

Colin Chap­man Steven­son, QSM, of Toko­maru, died in Palmer­ston North on July 18, aged 87.

The co-founder of Toko­maru struc­tural en­gi­neer­ing and fabri­cat­ing com­pany Steven­sons, and pro­pri­etor of the Toko­maru Steam Mu­seum on Makerua Rd, was fer­ried by the steam-pow­ered hearse pi­loted by grand­son Hamish Speedy and en­gine owner Stephen McClune, to rest at Palmer­ston North’s Kelvin Grove Ceme­tery.

Tributes from fam­ily mem­bers praised him for his gra­cious­ness, hu­mil­ity, gen­eros­ity, hos­pi­tal­ity, good man­ners and work ethic.

McClune said Steven­son epit­o­mised the ‘‘can-do Kiwi at­ti­tude’’.

In 1960 Steven­son went into part­ner­ship with his younger brother Rob. The part­ner­ship re­sulted in two com­pa­nies, Steven­son’s Struc­tural En­gi­neers, and Colin’s Steven­son’s Springs and En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany.

Steven­son mar­ried Welling­ton school teacher Esma Hodges in 1955, and the cou­ple had three chil­dren John, Su­san and Hugh.

The steam mu­seum started ac­ci­den­tally in 1963 when Steven­son brought home to his 4.8 hectare Makerua Rd prop­erty, the 1904 Fowler Trac­tion En­gine No.9890, with plans to re­store it.

The job took three years, and other ac­qui­si­tions as well as do­na­tions of an­tique ma­chin­ery fol­lowed.

The mu­seum opened its doors in 1970, and went on to be­come the largest col­lec­tion of steam en­gines in New Zealand and pos­si­bly the south­ern hemi­sphere.

The Steven­sons pro­duced a

book­let The Toko­maru Steam

En­gine Mu­seum, and apart from its week­end ‘‘Steam Up Days’’, the mu­seum was al­ways open by ar­range­ment.

In 1970, Steven­son be­came a JP. A mem­ber of Toko­maru’s St Ai­dan’s Angli­can Church, in 1993 he pro­duced the 400-page

Toko­maru School & Dis­trict Cen

ten­nial. Steven­son was awarded the QSM in 2000.

The mu­seum had been for sale since 2015 with hopes the col­lec­tion could be sold in­tact.

‘‘The mu­seum was grandad’s life - it put Toko­maru on the map,’’ Speedy said.

‘‘The mu­seum was grandad's life - it put Toko­maru on the map.’’ Hamish Speedy, grand­son of Colin Steven­son


Trac­tion en­gine ‘‘Dixie Flyer’’ takes Colin Steven­son’s cof­fin from Ly­ch­way Fu­neral Di­rec­tors to the ceme­tery in Kelvin Grove.

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