Topic: Springfield Branch/Midland Line

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(Not tonight, Josephine!). The former Springfield branch railway has an interesting history. Part of which is that Josephine had worked the line. So what about Josephine?


(Not tonight, Josephine!). The former Springfield branch railway has an interesting history. Part of which is that Josephine had worked the line.
So what about Josephine? (Shown above).

Josephine and her sister Rose were the only two of the type to be placed in service by the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway, December 1872.
For the uninitiated, these locos were "Double Fairlie's patent locomotives". These were odd even by the expectations of the day, in that they had double-ended boilers, with a common cab in the middle. The cylinders and driving wheels were on swivelling bogies at each end. This made them extremely flexible and light on the railway track, but with good adhesion. Josephine herself is in restored but not steamable on display in Dunedin.

The Rolleston-Sheffield line was opened for public traffic on December 1 1874. This was built in our standard gauge, 3'6", which was
considerably narrower than the "Canterbury broad gauge" railway at Rolleston. At that time there was no intention of continuing to the West Coast, and Sheffield was the transhipping point for mails and passengers to catch the coaches that ran to Greymouth and Hokitika via Arthurs Pass. It was only later that the decision was made to lay tracks via the Arthurs Pass route.The Whitecliffs line was opened 11 months later, to tap into the Malvern Hills coalfield, the prime reason for the whole exercise in the first place.

SO, WHAT ABOUT JOSEPHINE? I HEAR YOU ASK ... Read on, dear friend .. .

Until the change of gauge on the south line, these 3ft 6 inch gauge lines west of Rolleston had to to worked as an isolated section and there were two 11 tonne "A" class 0.4.0 tank engines stationed there (Piere). "Josephine" was transferred from Dunedin to work the coal track down to Rolleston. This was the result of a combination of very light rail, and tonnage being too great for the poor little 11 tonne A" class locos. The assumption is that this took place about this time.

We also know that Josephine left the South Island on Nov 11, 1883, and was shipped to the North Island. Subsequently she was taken over by the PWD (Public Works Dept.) There was a five year period where she would have been available to work "our" line. A local historian (John Parks) remembers seeing a photo of Josephine on the Waimakariri Gorge bridge, which was on the Oxford line, this is quite consistent, as the Oxford line joined the Midland line at Sheffield.

Photograph held in the Canterbury Museum shows the Double Fairlie Josephine at Halpins Creek, alongside the Bealey River, below Arthurs Pass in July 1914. At this time she was probably in PWD ownership and used to construct the Otira/West Coast line. From there she was involved in the building of the Alexandra-Cromwell branch. A model of the Cromwell Station is on display at Ferrymead in the Garden City Model Railway Club display area.

"On Track" - The newsletter of the Big Little Railway.
Malvern News: 10 Feb 2000

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Springfield Branch/Midland Line by Selwyn Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License