Old 'war horse' back on tracks

17:00, Apr 25 2014
CHUFFED: Locomotive crew member Titch Gibson with the restored engine ‘‘Passchendaele’’, built in 1915, at its rededication ceremony in Paekakariki yesterday.

After 20 years of renovation work the veteran steam engine "Passchendaele" returned to the rails for Anzac Day 2014.

It was a fitting day for the engine to come back to work, as it was named to honour New Zealand Railways workers killed in World War I.

The steam engine has been a major $500,000 project for Steam Incorporated's Paekakariki workshops and yesterday it finally got up steam, looking polished and ready to chuff along once more.

STEAMING AGAIN: Restoration crew member Danny Greene helped restore the old engine, which was ‘‘basically junk’’ when it was given to Steam Incorporated in 1993.

A dedication service was held in the Kapiti Coast town to celebrate its return.

Built in 1915, the engine, which hauled mainline express services, was renamed in 1925 after the World War I battle of Passchendaele. It was retired from service in 1967.

Steam Incorporated was given the locomotive in 1993 and it was rebuilt painstakingly using largely volunteer workers.


Spokesman Clive Thompson said when it arrived "Passchendaele" was "basically junk".

"The boiler was complete scrap. A lot of parts were completely renewed, but the most significant work was the tender, which goes behind the main body of the engine with coal and water. That's almost completely new."

Thompson said Steam Incorporated hoped to use the engine in a series of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the war, beginning this year.

One hoped-for event would be a troop train re-enactment, he said.

"[We] have a set of period carriages which can form a complete train . . . but the issue is always cost."

The Dominion Post