Sunday, August 15, 2010

Full Steam Ahead - The NZR Gang At Oamaru circa 1905

Q Class locomotive and Railway Station employees, Oamaru, circa 1905, Real phhoto postcard

A Q Class locomotive of New Zealand Railways at Oamaru, South Island  circa 1905. RPPC was sent as a Christmas greeting to family members from the gang at the Oamaru station. Sender remarks that the loco's lamp is one of the latest electric lamps from a workshop in Chicago.

Many decades later I rode the freight trains at Oamaru with my uncle who was a guard (conductor - yeah, I know no passengers so no tickets to punch; a guard "guarded" the train, not for "security" but "(rail)road" safety). By those times, diesels had taken over. Good times - toasting sandwiches on the pot belly stove in the guard's van. In the steam era, got to ride up front in the cab, shoveling some coal, blowing the whistle, hand on the throttle or whatever they call it, head out the window, cinders in the eye...

Sadly, kids can't do that anymore thanks to occupational safety and health. Go play a video game, kid. Wouldn't trade those memories for anything (sniff). God bless you Uncle Norman, up there in the big roundhouse in the sky.

2 comments:

Andrew said...

What fun. I have a friend who rode in the guards van with the guard on a now redundant railway line. The van was warmed by a pot belly stove too. I am so jealous.

kuaka said...

it's a kid's big adventure.

my son & daughter had a similar, smaller, adventure pre-9-11 on an Air NZ jet. Flight attendant invited them up to the flight deck. Co-pilot shows them the instruments, answers questions, then says "do you want to hear the machine guns?" Son wide-eyed says "yes, pleeeez!" Co-pilot reaches up & flicks a switch on ceiling - electronic "clatter, clatter" goes off. Pilot looks over at co-pilot, saying "I didn't know we had any of those". Should have heard the kids tell that story for months afterwards.

And I, the big kid, who never will grow up as a friend says, also had a flight deck experience within NZ, again pre-9-11, when a former high school buddy now pilot invited me up to flight deck for the Auckland - Chch run. Great views of the volcanoes in central NI and Southern Alps, ocean etc. Again, sadly, the bad guys stopped all that. On a later flight, he thumped the plane down hard on landing - thought the landing gear would collapse. Was he red-faced when I got up to the flight deck doorway upon deplaning. To his credit, he had the guts to man up and farewell each passenger as they got off.