The Return of Steam Day – 22 October 2006

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  Original turntable 1969



The New Zealand Railway staff in this photo is thought to be from left, man in uniform - Doug McCaulay, guard; leaning on rail - Ray Wells, fireman; looking out the engine window - "Brownie" Rene, driver. Tall local man to the right of pole is George Pepperel. The year is 1969.


It is many years since this photo was taken by Reid McNaught recording the last steam train being turned on the original turntable. No longer required, the turntable was removed. For the last few years we have been working on a number of projects to improve the railway precinct in Middlemarch and this includes the reinstallation of a turntable. Although originally just a dirt walled table, it has been reinstated with stonework by local craftsmen and volunteers. Contributions have been generously made by many, none more so than Allan Campbell who has done the engineering work. None of this work would have been possible without a substantial contribution by the Community Trust of Otago. Also needing mention is Taieri Gorge Limited who purchased the turntable and whose staff have been very supportive of this project.

But we are not just working on the turntable. At the northern end of the precinct we have re-erected a home signal, we have painted up a truck to bring some life back into the precinct, and we havejust brought down a water tank generously donated by the Cleugh family of Gimmerburn.


Setting the water tank on a stand is our next project in the actual precinct and any contributions or wisdom that you might have to assist in this project, or the building of stockyards, will be happily accepted.

Railways are not just about buildings and infrastructure. There are interesting stories to be told about the people who created the line, the effect the railway had on the development of Central Otago and of course the exciting part the Rail Trail is playing in continuing to develop our area. We are also developing a railway heritage extension to the Strath Taieri Historical Museum in Aberafon Street and, again, welcome any assistance you can give us with ideas, stories, mementos or donations to progress this project.

If you have information, donations or anything else that
you would like to follow up with us please contact:
Barry Williams - 4643718 Kate Wilson - 4643797
Bales Elliot - 4643731 Joan Wilson - 4643473

This album was created by Anne Elliot.