Southland's historic train restored

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 13:55 06/12/2013
Southland Times photo
HANNAH McLEOD/Fairfax NZ
More's locomotive restoration committee members, from left, Dave Asher, James More and Colin Brown are excited that restoration efforts are nearly completed on the Johnson Model A steam locomotive.

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The finishing touches are being made on a piece of Southland history in the hope it will be moved to its new home by Christmas.

The Johnson Model A steam locomotive that once transported logs from Longwoods through the Porakino Valley to sawmills at Riverton and Otautau has been under restoration for several years after the Department of Conservation removed it from the Porakino picnic area in a sorry state.

Department of Conservation Invercargill senior ranger Keri Tuna said the locomotive was removed because it was being vandalised.

"It was being trashed and shot up," Mr Tuna said.

Mr Tuna said DOC approached a community group in Riverton about the possibility of a restoration being undertaken, which is when the More's Locomotive Restoration Committee was set up.

"We paid for the restoration . . . which was just under $40,000," Mr Tuna said.

"This project has really been driven by the group, all the kudos should go to them," he said.

James More, a descendant of the More family who ran three sawmills in the area, drove the locomotive at age 14.

"My grandfather taught me how to fire it up, and told me to have a go at driving it," he said.

"She was one of three trains we had running, this one's name was Black Maria," he said.

Mr More saw the locomotive for the first time since its restoration recently.

"It's absolutely magic, last time I saw her she was in pieces," Mr More said.

Committee member Dave Asher said the locomotive was restored by a local engineer.

"We had to rebuild some of the parts, which was a long and expensive process," he said.

The committee hopes the train's new home will be next to Te Hikoi museum on Riverton's main street.

Committee member Colin Brown said they wanted the train to have a prominent position in the town.

"It's dead important to have the train right next to the museum," he said.

The committee had been in discussions with the Riverton Heritage and Tourist Centre trust, trying to come to an agreement about the placement of the locomotive.

There were a few bits and pieces still to be painted and fitted to the locomotive, before a brass plaque would be fastened to the side of the cab and she could be proudly displayed at her new home.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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