Am_Fet pulls out the "Prototype for Everything" file and recites:
One of my formative Model Train memories revolves around the many layouts that were built in KiwiBonds front room back when we werent old enough to know any better but before girls came along and changed all the rules. Back in those days it seemed that the best train we could run was a long train of Hornby open 4 wheel wagons pulled by a cardboard DGr. The load? Why, coal of course! To us, Coal was the raison d'tre of railways everywhere. Everywhere you looked in books all you saw was long trains of black gold, and so thats what we modelled.
Everyone mellows with age however (except maybe Keith Richards) and the lure of Canterbury agrarian branch lines proved too much to resist. Sure, it would be nice to have a few coal wagons floating about, but in rural South Canterbury?
Well oddly enough.....
Exhibit A, m'lud: The Allanholme Coal Mine located on the table lands above Waihao Forks. In discussions with the late and much missed Euan McQueen about this, he said the coal here was of the same type as that seen at several smaller mines all the way up the east coast of the island from Kaitangata to Shag Point and further up to Mt Somers. However, as far as he was aware the coal was for local domestic use and was never railed out.
And then an article was found online from the Oamaru Mail from 1920 about a visit to the mine. I wont reproduce the whole article here, but the highlights were:
- The Waimate Branch of the Sth Canterbury Development League visited to ascertain whether it was worth extending the rail line to the mine.
- Thanks to the amount of coal to be seen in the mine, it was agreed that an extension of the line would be of benefit to the community.
- "At present, Messers Meredith and Co keep a traction engine continually hauling to the Waihao Forks railway station...."
- Production was over 3300 tons per annum, much of which went as far away as Christchurch.
I can only guess that any extension would have branched of the branchline at McLeans Station and headed NW towards where the mine was located.
Modelling wise, it would make for a great scene at The Forks: A Traction Engine with trailers in the goods yard with coal wagons awaiting loading. Seeing as this was in the 1920's, it would be in the era when Waihao Downs still had a loco shed and staff and the main loco's on the branch were the Fa's.....not quite fitting in with what I'm aiming for, but definitely tempting if I feel the need to backdate the layout.....