Saturday, September 18, 2010

C 472 -- A History

While I was at the opening of the Onehunga Train Station today, I spotted a man with a bundle of booklets in his hand. Heading over to him, I asked him what he was selling, and he told me. I bought one.

What I bought was C 472, A History by Jim Hansen, written sometime after 1996. Usually, the glamour of steam railways goes to the engines. In this case, a six-wheel composite carriage has the limelight.

C 472 was initially a second class car, ordered by NZ Railways in 1879, and ran on the Onehunga line until 1894. It was then transfered with two other C class carriages to the Kaihu Valley Railway in Dargaville. There, C 472 was upgraded to a composite car : one containing two compartments, first class and second class. First class get the padded seats, second class the plain wooden ones, both bench style under the windows. It remained in service until written off in 1933, and sold, along with C 474, to the Donnelleys Crossing Axemen's Association in Kaihu for use as a grandstand for chopping events. C 472 survived the elements mainly because it had been given a corrugated iron roof -- the other carriage wasn't similarly clad, and so rotted completely away.

That said, C 472 was in a very sorry state when the Donnelleys Crossing Settlers Club donated the carriage to the Railway Enthusiasts Society in 1988. It took until 1995 for the Railway Enthusiasts to receive Lottery Grants funding for the carriage's restoration -- but they did a wonderful job. A colour photo of the restored C 472 is here.

The booklet, 16 pages, A5 size, is I imagine available from the Railway Enthusiasts Society.

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