memories  1960’s . . . . .  page  2


What is the “Fairlie?” It’s a steam locomotive, designed by Robert Fairlie and made in Bristol, England in 1878. It worked at the Burkes Creek coal mine near Reefton from 1944 to 1948, when it was abandoned and left to rust away on a hillside near the Burkes Creek railwa siding.

A stationmaster, Mr Crumpton, a railway enthusiast, noticed it there, recognised it as an R28 Single Fairlie and the sole survivor of its kind in the world. So he approached it’s owner, Mr W J Morris, and as a result it was recovered from the scrub, cleaned up, and offered to the people of Reefton.

The Reefton community accepted the offer - and then came the hard part: how to get it to the Reefton play park? A working committee obtained planning permission, followed by working bees, a street stall, money pledges, a concert, a donation of timber; and in 1961 the big shift began.

It was a two-day operation, using two sets of tracks. The engine was hauled (backwards) by the Council loader over one set of tracks while the other set was lifted from behind and laid in front. This was repeated all the way from the railway station to the play park. The townspeople turned out to watch this keen group of volunteers moving the big steam engine along Buller Road, with the small boys scrambling all over it.

After two days of hard slog, it was up on rails in the play park where it gave pleasure to the Reefton youngsters for many years.

But there was to be another shift. It was decided to shift it to a site on the strand between Broadway and the Inangahua River and to protect it from the elements. Once in position, it was painted, roofed, and surrounded by a fence, but is still accessible to another generation of girls and boys to enjoy.

Click here to view photo’s close upfairlie_photos.html

BY  Ngaire baxter

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