“The Kingston Flyer” – Researching can be fun

These days it’s getting harder and harder to find ghosts of the past.

It’s surprising when you read how many steam locomotives existed in the days of steam, and how few remain, and even then, if those that remain, how many actually still work.

It makes writing historical fiction all that much harder.

Some years ago I had an idea I might write a story that involved a steam train, and, since we travelled to New Zealand almost once a year, decided it was time to pay the train a visit.  That year, the train was still running, and it was an experience.

Try drinking a cup of team, on the train, without spilling it.  We couldn’t but it was not the train that was the problem, it was the tracks it ran on.

Now, although I read somewhere it might make a comeback, the last visit we made, the trains were firmly ensconced in their shed, and not looking remotely like moving.

These photos are from the last time we visited.

The Kingston Flyer was a vintage train that ran about 14km to Fairlight from Kingston, at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu, and back.

This tourist service was suspended in December 2012 because of locomotive issues.

However, before that, we managed to go on one of the tours, and it was a memorable trip.  Trying to drink a cup of tea from the restaurant car was very difficult, given how much the carriages moved around on the tracks.

The original Kingston Flyer ran between Kingston, Gore, Invercargill, and sometimes Dunedin, from the 1890s through to 1957.

There are two steam locomotives used for the Kingston Flyer service, the AB778 starting service in 1925, and the AB795 which started service in 1927.

The AB class locomotive was a 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive with a Vanderbilt tender, of which 141 were built between 1915 and 1927 some of which by New Zealand Railways Addington Workshops.

No 235 is the builder’s number for the AB778

There were seven wooden bodied passenger carriages, three passenger coaches, one passenger/refreshments carriage and two car/vans.  The is also a Birdcage gallery coach.  Each of the rolling stock was built between 1900 and 1923.  They were built at either of Addington, Petone, or Hillside.

I suspect the 2 on the side means second class

The passenger coach we traveled in was very comfortable.

This is one of the guard’s vans, and for transporting cargo.

The Kingston Railway Station

and cafe.

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