Do you remember trains between Invercargill and Bluff?

Bluff Train at Clifton Station in 1956
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Bluff Train at Clifton Station in 1956

A hundred years ago the fastest way to get from Invercargill to Bluff was by train, according to Alex Glennie.

It was also the best source of gossip in Invercargill, Glennie said. 

And being a frequent passenger, from back in the day before the line became freight-only in 1967, he would know. 

John Gilbert Mackie at the Awarua Junction Station in c.1940
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John Gilbert Mackie at the Awarua Junction Station in c.1940

"Everyone knew about everything on the Bluff school train."

"It used to be packed. Every day they would be full."

The historical author was calling for people to pull out their photo albums and search for photos of the Invercargill to Bluff railway.

Photos of Awarua North station, Awarua Station and Awarua Junction were of particular interest because they were incredibly rare, Glennie said.

"I only know of about half a dozen." 

Nothing remained of the stations anymore, he said. 

"All the buildings are gone, all the signs are gone ...They are really preserved in memory."

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The introduction of the affordable automobile and the upgrading of roads ended up killing the railway, he said.

"Less people used it and it just got too expensive to keep running."  

Awarua Junction burnt down in 1965 and was never rebuilt and Awarua North station and Awarua Station fell into disrepair and were disassembled after the line became freight-only in 1967.

"People used to ride the train everyday and there were families that lived in houses along the railway - there have to be photos out there."

It was important to preserve what history they could now, before that generation died, taking the history with them, he said.

"This is history worth preserving."

The photos recovered would be used in a book about the history of the Awarua Radio.

Glennie published his first book on the station, called A Scrapbook of History the Awarua Radio ZLB, in September 2016.

Since the book was released, an influx of people had contacted him with either new information or wanting to find out more about the station.

He took the interest as a sign to write a second volume with updated knowledge. 

  • Can you help Alex Glennie? Contact 03 213 0492 or a.glennie@xtra.co.nz

 

 - Stuff

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