Branch Lines with Modelling Potential:: Ngapara  BACK 

Preamble Features Description Thanks

..... Ngapara ("nah-para") is a small town in the fertile Waiareka valley, 25 Kilometers out of Oamaru in the province of Otago in the South Island of New Zealand.
On Thursday the 29th of March 1877 a special train made the inaugural trip up the line to officially open it from Oamaru to Ngapara. This is a distance of 24.34 Kilometers. In 1887 a sub branch was opened running to Tokarahi, 19 Kilometers in length.
The line was closed in 1959 except for the 5 kilometers in from the Main South Island Trunk which serves industrial sites only.

Locomotives used: 'Weka' 0-6-0T was used on the official train at the line opening.
Fa 0-6-0T's were stationed at Ngapara, also Wf, a P and Wd at times.
Baldwin T's and Ub 'rattlers' worked the Tokarahi branch and Uc's are remembered too.
Later Ab and A pacifics reigned supreme.

Preamble Features Story Thanks
Items of interest::
Ngapara a small country terminus, Class "B" station and post-office, Goods shed, loading bank, stock yards, loco depot and a 50 foot turntable.
Tokarahi terminus of the sub branch.
There are some tunnels and a hill or two on the sub branch.
The loco shed at Ngapara had to be run through to reach the turntable.
Windsor Junction (unmanned) had a "fly-shunt" layout
Corriedale, home of the New Zealand sheep breed of the same name.
Bridges on the line feature the local Oamaru Stone
At Enfield there were ballast pits and a siding - supplied rock for the Oamaru foreshore.
The bridge over the Waireka just before Enfield was a striking structure of 40 feet height.
An "F" class loco was used regularly to ferry rock from Enfield to Oamaru.
The line travels along the slopes of a huge limestone plateau to Lorne giving a fine view of the valley
Weston is known for its Oamaru stone quarry.
The line now ends 2Km past Weston where Taylors' Lime Works has access to unlimited reserves of high quality lime.
Southward facing points at Waiareka Junction are to avoid a sharp turn onto the branch line.
Oamaru is a large town on the main south line and center of the stock and minerals trading for the district.
Preamble Features Story Thanks
From southward-facing points at Waiareka Junction (placed thus to eliminate an impossibly sharp and steep curve had they faced Oamaru-wards) the line proceeds for barely two miles on a climb of 1 in 111 to Weston. Weston, known for its Oamaru stone quarry, could be called a 'dormitory area' with respect to Oamaru. The present terminus of the line (since 1959) is at Cormacks the site of Taylors' Lime Works. The original Cormacks loop was situated 300 yards on the Weston side of the present station. This loop was removed in 1944. Taylors' works have recently been taken over by Milburn Lime and Cement and so the future of the business seems secure. This opinion is based on a recent statement by Milburn Lime and Cement (1961) that they intend to eventually base most of their plant and operations at Cormacks where there are unlimited reserves of high-grade limestone. From Cormacks the line moved north-west along the slopes of a huge limestone plateau from which point the early rail traveller, was afforded a fine view of the outstretched Waiareka Valley. Lorne, which boasted a loop till 1949, was reached a mile from Cormacks then for the next mile and a quarter into Enfield the line dropped down an average gradient of 1 in 72 crossing the Waiareka stream. The bridge over the Waiareka was one of the few engineering structures of any note on this branch. Enfield, another similar in character to Weston though not so large, boasted until fairly recently (mentioned in 1948 W.T.T.), a ballast pit and siding. This quarry supplied most of the rock for the 0amaru foreshore protection work undertaken during the war years. Apparently F class engines used to be regularly assigned to this task, one being 'Lord Nelson', 'F 111' which now belongs to the Oamaru Harbour Board. The line used to flood on occasions at Enfield. This station was known first as Teaneraki. Continuing from Enfield the line proceeded along the Waiareka Valley passing through Elderslie, a once important estate which provided much traffic for the line in the earlier days. Another important estate in this vicinity was Windsor Park owned by William Menlove who was prompted to give the land for nothing to the railway where it passed through his property. He, needless to say, Was an ardent supporter of the Branch. Windsor station was reached five miles further on from Elderslie at an average gradient of 1 in 170. Windsor, known as Windsor Junction till the closing of the line (1959), was of particular interest from 1887 till 1930 when the twelve rugged miles of the Tokarahi Branch were in existence. According to an Oamaru engine-driver who worked over both branches, Windsor had a 'fly-shunt' layout. The station was officered at no time during its existence. In fact Ngapara was the only station to be officered on the whole branch. From Windsor the line curved gently north passing Corriedale a mile distant, home of N.Z.'s own breed of sheep. Queens Flat station, besides the Waireka Stream lay slightly over two miles distant from Corriedale while a mile and a half further on at the head of the valley, lay the terminus of Ngapara. The word 'Ngapara is a Maori reference to the 'Tables' in this area - huge limestone plateau's. Ngapara had the usual paraphernalia of a country terminus; station buildings, goods shed, loading bank, stock-yards, locomotive depot (closed 1927) and fifty-foot turntable. The engine shed had to be 'run through' to reach the turn-table and as the rails in later years had been lifted to the depot the turn table was inoperative. The last ever train on the Branch, a work train of 10th December, 1939, lifted this turntable out presumably with a steam crane. It is believed that the stationmaster left Ngapara in 1953 while the post-office which occupied part of the station, was closed in 1959. Ngapara never amounted to more than a small rural community despite the introduction of the railway. A flour mill and a coal mine helped boost tonnage over the years but the halcyon years finished in the early twenties with the termination of wheat growing. Twenty thousand acres were estimated to be under cereals at the beginning of this century. One can only present a sketchy outline of timetables in force over the eighty-two years that the line was in existence. However shortly after the turn of the century there was agitation for a more frequent service on both the Tokarahi and Ngapara branches. The following timetable was then instituted. Daily a mixed train left Tokarahi at 8.25 in the morning arriving at Windsor Junction at 9.25. ( An hour to cover 12 miles!) In the station would be standing a mixed train which should have arrived from Ngapara three minutes before. A reshuffle took place where the Ngapara engine took all the passengers to Oamaru arriving at 10.40 a.m. The Tokarahi engine marshalled together all the goods wagons and then meandered into Oamaru usually arriving half an hour after the passenger train. In the afternoon the reverse took place; the goods left Oamaru at 3.15 p.m. and waited at Windsor for the passenger train which was due in at 4.56. Another complicated shunt took place and then each engine took its own mixed train home. These change overs must have been executed pretty smartly as only five minutes were allowed for this manoeuvre in the Timetable. By 1926 however, the above service had been reduced to Mondays only; Mixed trains running on Tuesdays. Thursdays and Saturdays. By 1925 road transport was testing away the cream of both passenger and goods traffic from both branches and this trend was reflected in the 10,000 loss on both branches for the year. From December 1926 the Department decided to replace all mixed services with two bus services. These bus services were among the first in New Zealand to be operated by the Railways Department. The depression helped to hasten the closure of the Tokarahi branch which ceased operations in 1930. By 1935 on Tuesdays. Thursdays and Saturdays, train 337 left Oamaru at 7.30 a.m. arriving at the terminus at 9.40 . Train 304 then left Ngapara at 10.30 a.m. arriving back in Oamaru at 1-30 p.m. By 1951 the service was still running on the same timetable though only on Tuesdays and Thursdays with extras as required to Taylors' Lime Works which was then producing prodigious amounts of agricultural lime. Current W.T.T. stated that only one Engine in steam was allowed on the branch at one time. For the last eighteen months of the branch's life the train services were run as required. In 1938 the operating loss of the branch was 702 climbing to 1,813 in 1940 and 2,506 in 1951. By 1956 tar-sealed roads extended into Oamaru from the terminus, road transport operators were sending the bulk of the traffic and 25,000 was needed to be spent on the line to bring it into order again. ( A speed limit of 10 m.p.h. existed from 1958.) Little wonder then that in January 1959 the Minister of Railways announced that he was considering the closure of the line beyond Taylors' Works. Representations were made to the Minister on behalf of the Oamaru Harbour board and other organisations in an attempt to stay the closing of the line. The result however was a foregone conclusion and the last goods train passed of Ngapara metals on July 31st, 1959. These brief notes would be far from complete if some mention was not made of the various types of motive power which worked the combined branch lines. The following lists have many unavoidable gaps. Apart from a reference to 'Weka' '0-6-0-T' hauling the official inspection train at the opening of the Ngapara branch, little is known of locomotive operation in the early stages of the branches. For some years prior to 1918 However Fa '0-6-OT' locomotives worked the combined Windsor-Oamaru passenger service. (These engines were stationed at Ngapara). Other engines which worked the branches from the 1900's were Wf '2-6-4T', P '2-8-0', Wd '2-6-4T' and T '2-8-0' engines. The Baldwin built T class worked Tokarahi up to the mid-twenties; their numbers being 103-106. The Baldwin Ub class also saw service here: slide-valve, 'the rattlers' No.328 and piston valve No's 280-282. A Sharp Stewart built '4-6-0' Uc No 368 is remembered as performing creditable duty too. Ab and A class Pacifics reigned supreme on the Ngapara branch for the last 'Twenty-five years. Taylors' Lime Company secured the tender for lifting the line. The eleven miles of track and ballast were lifted by the Company in about four months using an Allis-Chalmers HD5 bulldozer. Approximately 1000 tons of railway line 30,000 sleepers and three bridges were recovered. Cattle yards, goods sheds, sidings and incidental sheds were sold separately to private buyers. The land made available by the removal of the line-some eleven miles by half a chain was leased by the Railways Department.
From NZRLS Archives compiled by Rod Murgatroyd
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