Fairlie Flyer nostalgic fare sought

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 08:21 01/04/2014

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South Cantabrians with memories of the Fairlie Flyer are being asked to contribute to a special presentation next week.

The Fairlie Heritage Museum will host a special "memories evening" on April 11, and people are invited to bring photos, archival reports, or just their memories of the passenger train, which last ran in 1968.

Co-organiser Michael Kerr said although it was many years since its last run, many people still had quite an attachment to the train.

"They're getting older, and there's fewer of them, but there is quite the nostalgic appeal associated with the train."

Kerr said the Fairlie Heritage Museum already had a lot of material associated with the train, including photos of the locomotive battling heavy snows in 1903, and a recording of the Ballad of the Fairlie Flyer.

It is the 130th anniversary this year of the first passenger and locomotive carriage to Fairlie. On January 31, 1884, the Timaru Herald reported the first excursion to Fairlie by passenger and carriage train, after the extension of the railway from Albury to Fairlie Creek.

The AB699 engine, which became known as the Fairlie Flyer, was built in 1922.

Kerr said he knew of some people who regularly took the Fairlie Flyer into Timaru.

"It was a memorable, if long, trip into town. It was only a 40-mile trip, but it could take as long as two hours, because of the winding roads and rugged terrain," he said.

"Towards the end of its life, the train became too expensive to run, particularly with the arrival of freight."

Hundreds of people attended the train's final trip as a fully-fledged passenger train on March 1, 1968.

The AB699 engine was later purchased by the Pleasant Point Railway and Historical Society and restored. Since then, the engine has held trips on special occasions.

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- The Timaru Herald

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