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.