Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin & Port Chalmers Railway Coy., 1872-73 (Part Five)


Gravestone of Frederick Gatwood
in the East Perth Cemetery, Western Australia
[Used with kind permission of a family descendant]

Mr Frederick Gatwood - Assistant Engineer

This Blog concludes my series entitled "The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway". To go to my short history of the D&PCR Co. click HERE. In this blog series we explore these "forgotten" enginemen, their early lives, their engineering and railway backgrounds, their employment with the D&PCR Co., and their subsequent railway and post railway careers and lives. 

Our fourth and final biography, having been pieced together from published, on-line and private sources, charts the life of Mr Frederick Gatwood, being initially employed as an Assistant Engineer for the D&PCR Co. As we shall read, Mr Gatwood led a rather interesting and decidedly peripatetic life which would, unfortunately, be tragically and unexpectedly cut short in the prime of his life. From what I have read I would describe him as very adaptable and not afraid to try something new, a very practical minded person and not afraid of hard work, an honourable man, a family man, sociable, and it would appear, enterprising and very successful in matters of business. 

Frederick "Fred" Gatwood was, according to his son's birth certificate, born in Bristol, England, not as noted by Mr Sligo in 1928 and even in his own obituary, as in "Lancashire". A family descendant believes him to be the "Frederick Gattward" born in Bedminster, Bristol in December 1851 to Edward and Emma (née Custerson) Gattward. Phonetic spelling in the days prior to civil birth records was common and in fact the 1851 census records the surname as "Gattwood". 

Interestingly, Frederick's Father Edward, a "Civil Engineer", was in later years, the Manager of the Bristol Railway Carriage and Wagon Works Company. With an engineering background in his family it is probably not surprising that Frederick would also choose to follow a similar career path. But knowing that the latter company supplied the carriages, wagons and other rolling stock for the D&PCR Co., I do wonder if there could be a connection here to Frederick perhaps also having worked for the same company? Employing someone holding experience in the manufacture of the rolling stock would certainly have been an advantage to the D&PCR Co. half way around the world.

After moving with his family to Holmer, Hereford and then back to Upper Easton in Bristol, Frederick now followed in his Father's footsteps as an "Engineer's Apprentice". As the now twenty year old Frederick came out with Messrs Amos and Thomas with the Fairlie locomotives "Josephine" and "Rose" from Bristol on the "Wave Queen" in 1872, he must also have signed 'Articles of Agreement' through Robert Fairlie. And, as noted above, could Frederick have been working for the Bristol Railway Carriage and Wagon Works Co.? The connection with Fairlie and the Bristol works manufacturing the rolling stock (under the oversight of Fairlie) for the D&PCR Co. is intriguing, and in my mind at least, would make perfect sense.      

The Iron Clipper Ship "Wave Queen"
[From an old published print]

The first mention of Frederick Gatwood in direct connection to the D&PCR Co. is when he arrived at Post Chalmers New Zealand on the 853 ton "Wave Queen" from Bristol on the 28th August 1872 after a "fair passage" of 98 days (actually her fastest ever voyage out). Gatwood would then take up his employment as an Assistant Engineer with the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Company. Nothing is specifically known of his time with the company. He will almost certainly have assisted in the servicing of the locomotives and rolling stock under the direction of Mr Amos the Chief Engineer. 

While Gatwood's Obituary states that he came to New Zealand as a young man where he had "mining and other experience" I do not place too much store in this vague comment written years later by someone who would not have known him at this time and of course they also incorrectly gave his place of birth as "Lancashire". There are in fact gaps in a number of civil records relating to Frederick's past but family research has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that we have the right man. He may have had some mining experience before he left New Zealand but we do not know where. 

By April 1874 Gatwood was now apparently living in North Otago. An advertisement under "Missing Friends" in the "North Otago Times" of the 8th April 1874 advises "Fred Gatwood" to collect a letter from the Palmerston Post Office which indicates that he was residing in the general area. I hope he received it. I do know that from March 1874 the main south railway line between Oamaru and Moeraki was then under construction with Messrs Brogden & Sons holding the contract so this is a possibility should his employment with another railway construction firm after this date be taken as a guide. At any rate, he had been a locomotive driver since about May 1875 (as noted below) and would have had experience as a locomotive assistant or "stoker" prior to this date to gain the relevant qualification.

From around the 8th March to the 3rd April 1876 Gatwood is then specifically referred to as having been employed as an engine driver by the private railway contracting firm, W.G. Morrison & Co., who were then constructing the new Waiareka Branch Railway just south of Oamaru. During this time Gatwood had driven a small locomotive named "The Rover" being manufactured by Kincaid, McQueen & Co. of Dunedin, with his regular fireman being John Robinson.

Their former locomotive would suffer a boiler explosion in May 1876 due to a defective steam gauge and safety valve [which had been reported], the latter having been tied down to avoid blowing off steam at low pressure. On one occasion Gatwood was noted as having held the valve down with his hand in order to maintain pressure but it was the locomotive's then Driver, Mr D. Mitchell, who requested his fireman to later add the rope, believing the pressure gauge to be of sufficient warning. The Driver, Dugald Mitchell and the Contractor's clerk, Alexander Taylor, both lost their lives in the subsequent explosion. The fireman, John Orr, survived. 

On the 5th May 1877, and now employed by the New Zealand Government Railways and stationed at Oamaru, Gatwood was the driver on a passenger train from Timaru when the engine, and in darkness and at low speed, struck an object on entering the Oamaru Town Belt. After initially believing it had been a sheep on the line it was later found that a man had been run over and killed. At the inquest (the afore-mentioned) Mr GH Amos, in his capacity as Provincial Locomotive Inspector at Oamaru, stated that, "Gatwood had been driving about two years, but has been connected with the railways in Otago for about five years. He is one of the most careful, sober, and steady men on the line". The jury found the man to have died due to the effects of drunkenness "and that there is no blame attributable to the engine driver." The Coroner believed the man had simply fallen asleep on the line but no object had been seen by the ever attentive Gatwood. This was probably not surprising considering the relatively poor lighting of the colza oil locomotive lamps then in use.

But now a surprising twist. In early March 1882 we find Frederick Gatwood working in the Northern Hotel in Oamaru, being owned by his old D&PCR Co. associate, former Foreman of the Oamaru Locomotive depot, Locomotive Inspector, and friend, the above Mr George Amos. There is no published record of Gatwood having left the Railways service so I feel certain that he did not leave under a cloud. But the Hotel would be sold in March 1883 when Amos was declared bankrupt. Perhaps this is when the still single Gatwood undertook his "mining experience" in New Zealand? There is certainly a five year gap between late 1882 up to 1887.

A personal interest of Gatwood's is noted in August 1882 by his active membership of the Oamaru Jockey Club, this being the last mention of him in public and civil records anywhere in New Zealand. This would however serve as a clue to point towards another quite surprising twist and turn in his very peripatetic life - a move to Australia. I first confirmed this from Australian newspaper references but was then lucky enough to discover a family descendant who was aware of his connection to the D&PCR Co. and has been most helpful in providing further detailed information.

Frederick Gatwood had experience in engine driving, hotel keeping, and in horse-racing (as well as possibly mining experience) and he would, as we shall read, now put all three to very good use in Australia. 

After leaving New Zealand, and around 1886-87, Gatwood is first noted as being employed as an Engine Driver on the Great Western Railway at Dubbo, a major railway centre in New South Wales. This fact also confirms that he had previous locomotive driving experience. Gatwood is then noted as marrying his wife, Mary Ann ("Annie") Burness, on the 22nd February 1888 at Dubbo in NSW. By this date Frederick was working as a commission agent in Brisbane, Queensland, his wife and daughter soon joining him. Their son Ted's birth certificate clearly confirms Frederick as being born in Bristol, England. 

Gatwood then had "further mining and racing experience" in Queensland before selling up and leaving for Sydney on the 30th November 1889 and thence onto Perth to deliver a new "Patent Totalisator" to be used at the West Australia Turf Club New Year race meeting in Perth. It is clear that Frederick and Annie intended to then settle in Western Australia. Frederick would now become the Licensee of the "Imperial Hotel" in York, W.A. before moving to the "Globe Hotel" in Wellington street, Perth and opposite the Railway Station sometime after April 1892. By September 1892 he was carrying out major renovations to the hotel, being celebrated in November with "a grand dinner".

A Busy Wellington Street, Perth, circa late 1890's.
The Globe Hotel appears in the middle distance.
[Source : Battye Library, Perth]

His worst misdemeanour as a Publican appears to have been a charge of selling alcohol on a Sunday, being on the 4th December 1892. Despite a quite brilliant and rather humorous defense being based around what I would term deception and intentional entrapment by four plain clothed Constables, Gatwood was fined £50 He was, however a very successful Publican, turning the business from obscurity to "one of the most popular hostelries in the city". Frederick also continued his active interest in the Turf Club, being Manager of the Totalizator.

We then find that after being taken suddenly ill on the evening of the 31st July 1894, Frederick Gatwood, "the popular Licencee of the Globe Hotel", died of peritonitis aged 42 years. The interment took place on the afternoon of Wednesday the 1st August at the Church of England Cemetery, Perth, the funeral cortege consisting of "sixteen or seventeen vehicles, and quite a number of mourners who followed on foot" leaving from the Globe Hotel in Wellington Street at 3.30 pm. The service, being "very largely attended", was conducted by the Rev. H. Wallis.

A man of some means, included in Frederick Gatwood's estate was a block of six terrace houses valued at £22,500 His widow, who had the handsome gravestone erected to his memory, remarried in June 1897 to a Rockhampton born businessman, Mr George Henriques. Frederick Gatwood was survived by his four children. "Faith", "Ted", "Percy", and "Mollie".


A Close-up of Frederick Gatwood's Gravestone
in the East Perth Cemetery, Western Australia
[Used with kind permission of a family descendant]

"Of genial temperament and generous natured, he endeared himself to all with whom he came in contact."


Copyright : This blog may not be reproduced without my specific written permission and / or that of family descendants. Excerpts may however be quoted for non-commercial and academic use provided this site is acknowledged. Please feel free, however, to publicize this Blog.

Sources :

- Papers Past / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- Archives New Zealand / Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
- Heritage New Zealand / Pouhere Taonga
- "The New Zealand Railways Magazine", 1934
- Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
- McNab Room, Dunedin Public Library
- "Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway - New Zealand's First 3ft 6in Gauge Line" by TA McGavin, 1973
- "Josephine and Her Friends" by JA Dangerfield, c.1994
- Genealogy.com
- Trove (National Library of Australia)
- With my grateful thanks to a Gatwood family descendant

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin & Port Chalmers Railway Coy., 1872-73 (Part Four)


Marble Gravestone of Thomas & Margaret Graham,
Anderson's Bay Cemetery Dunedin
[Source : Dunedin City Council]

Mr Thomas Graham - Locomotive Fireman 

This Blog is a continuing instalment in my series entitled "The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway". To go to my short history of the D&PCR Co. click HERE. In this blog series we explore these "forgotten" enginemen, their early lives, their engineering and railway backgrounds, their employment with the D&PCR Co., and their subsequent railway and post railway careers and lives. 

Our third biography, having been pieced together from a number of published and online sources, charts the life of Mr Thomas Graham, being initially employed as a Locomotive Fireman for the D&PCR Co. As we shall read, Mr Graham went on to have a long and fulfilling railways career in the south which, along with his then driver Mr John Thomas, included a couple of notable railway firsts. 

Graham appears to have been born around 1843 but I have been unable to locate him in Scottish Baptismal records. And without more accurate information searching census records could prove a costly exercise. His obituary at least confirms that he was born in West Calder, Scotland. On the 7th July 1872 Graham arrived at Port Chalmers on the sailing vessel "William Davie", having left the Clyde on the 6th April 1872 with a complement of 390 passengers, many being assisted immigrants. Oddly his name does not appear on the passenger list so I wonder if perhaps he worked his passage?  

His first work in Scotland had been that of a "plate-layer and Engine Driver" but with which railway company is unknown. The two likely possibilities, based on where he was born, would be the Caledonian Railway Company or the North British Railway Company.

The most likely scenario is that he was directly employed in Otago by the D&PCR Co. upon his arrival based on his previous railways experience and qualifications rather than having been engaged for this work in Scotland. His obituary dated 1919 states that, "his first work in Dunedin was as fireman to Mr Jack Thomas (who, it is understood, is still living), when they worked the first engine running to Port Chalmers. This engine was one of the two double-engined Fairlies...".


The double door firebox on Double-Fairlie
Locomotive "Josephine", 2016
[From my own collection]

The "first engine running to Port Chalmers" is well recorded in published accounts of the D&PCR Co., with John Thomas as driver and Thomas Graham firing when the Double-bogie Fairlie locomotive "Josephine" hauled the first 'public' timetabled train on the line from Dunedin to Port Chalmers on Wednesday the 1st January 1873.

The boiler configuration on the Double-Fairlie's, as can be seen on the preserved 145 year old "Josephine" above, included a centrally mounted firebox with two firing doors and two boilers, each extending to the 'front' and 'rear' of the engine. Thus firing was to the side on the rather cramped footplate on the fireman's side of the boiler, hardly an excessively large area by any means, especially when wielding a shovel of coal on a moving locomotive. I daresay a short handled coal shovel was in order.

And while Thomas Graham may have been fireman on the first public trip on the 1st January 1873 and again on the 16th July 1873, his obituary also states that he "was one of the original engine drivers on the Dunedin-Port Chalmers railway". Knowing that he had previous driving experience in Scotland and therefore the requisite locomotive drivers ticket this statement may still be correct even if he is not specifically noted as a driver on the line in earlier published accounts. It may well be that he was initially only a relieving driver. At any rate, Graham would appear not to have undertaken any driving or firing on the D&PCR Co. line until the afore-mentioned opening trip on the 1st January 1873 and as of July 1873 was still working as John Thomas' regular fireman.

On the 17th July 1873 Thomas Graham is noted as being the fireman ["stoker'] and John Thomas the driver when the first recorded fatality occurred on the line itself. A man named Angus McPherson, being under the influence of alcohol, was found to have been run over and killed. There was confusion at the Coroner's Inquest over Graham either shutting off steam upon approaching the curve where the body lay or not shutting off steam. Graham claimed he did not and the Guard stated under examination that he did as he was prompted to put on the brake in the guard's van. But I can find no evidence of Fireman Thomas Graham being asked for his evidence. Perhaps if it had gone onto a criminal court this would be the case but after driver Thomas was given a good character reference, and with his conflicting evidence simply being put down to "confusion", the jury duly returned a verdict of "Accidental Death".

Graham's obituary does appear to be badly written but states; "On the erection of the second engine, about a year later, Mr Graham was appointed driver." This second engine is referred to as "Josephine" but we know that "Rose" was in fact the second engine to be completed. But the inference is that around twelve months after public services commenced on the line Graham was appointed permanent driver of one of the locomotives, most likely for the "Rose".

Graham is specifically noted as driving the 7.15 pm up train from Port Chalmers on the 14th May 1875 so we can certainly confirm that he was then driving locomotives, the old D&PCR Co line now being run by the Otago Provincial Government Railways.

It was at this time, specifically on the 25th June 1875, that Thomas Graham married his wife Margaret Ward, a "Native of Glasgow", at Knox Presbyterian Church Dunedin .


Otago Provincial Government Railways Double-Ended Fairlie
Locomotive E25 built by "Avonside" England in March 1875
[Source : SA Rockliff Collection]

By now working for the New Zealand Government Railways but still based in Dunedin, Thomas Graham is reported as having been driving the Avonside built 'Fairlie' No. E25 (being originally supplied to the Otago Provincial Government Railways in 1875) on the evening of Saturday the 28th June 1884 and up to 1.25 am the following morning. A woman 'of doubtful repute', being one Emily [sic Ellen] Adams, a native of Ireland, was later found dead on the line but apart from some evidence that the cow catcher had made contact with the deceased "no concussion or shock" had been felt on the engine despite the body obviously having been run over more than once at slow speed and no object had been noted on the line. A verdict of "Accidental death" was given and that the line "be more closely fenced".    

A further inquest into a railway fatality involving Thomas Graham, who was required to give evidence, occurred the following year. On the night of Saturday the 24th October 1885 John Robertson met with his death on a railway journey between Dunedin and Abbotsford, Graham being the locomotive driver. The jury were told that the deceased fell between the carriage and the brake van when the train was still travelling very slowly at about 3 to 4 miles per hour as it approached the platform and was thus run over and killed instantly. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death", adding a rider that "they thought the rule prohibiting people jumping off trains while in motion should be strictly enforced." 

But on Wednesday the 2nd February 1887 Graham would save a life, being that of 18 month old John Gray. As the 11.40 am train approached the Pelichet Bay Station the driver, Thomas Graham, noticed the child lying between the sleepers on the line. Although within only twenty yards of the child he quickly shut off steam and managed to bring the locomotive to a stop with the cow catcher just striking the child on the forehead but only causing a slight wound. A miraculous survival for the child.

Graham continued in the railways service and appears to have remained based in Dunedin where he ended his railways career, retiring on superannuation about 1907. Thomas Graham passed away at his Dunedin residence on the 3rd May 1919 aged 76 years and is buried with his wife Margaret, who died in 1923, in the Anderson's Bay Cemetery. He left his widow, four married daughters and seventeen grandchildren.

At a University Club luncheon given in July 1928, Mr W.F. Sligo (Past Night Foreman of the Dunedin Locomotive Dept.) recalled those early D&PCR Co. days noting the achievements of John Thomas but also that ; "...Mr Thomas' first fireman was a man named Tom [Thomas] Graham." From this statement we can fairly safely assume that the latter was known to his friends on the railway simply as "Tom".

And the last word comes from his obituary; "Old railway men will miss him, for he was an honest, straightforward man, and held in high esteem by all who knew him."


Copyright : This blog may not be reproduced without my specific written permission. Excerpts may however be quoted for non-commercial and academic use provided this site is acknowledged. Please feel free, however, to publicize this Blog.

Sources :

- Papers Past / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- Archives New Zealand /Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
- Heritage New Zealand / Pouhere Taonga
- "The New Zealand Railways Magazine", 1934
- Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
- McNab Room, Dunedin Public Library
- "Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway - New Zealand's First 3ft 6in Gauge Line" by TA McGavin, 1973
- "Josephine and Her Friends" by JA Dangerfield, c.1994
- Genealogy.com

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin & Port Chalmers Railway Coy., 1872-73 (Part Three)


John Thomas, taken later in life
[Used with kind permission of a family descendant]

Mr John Thomas - Locomotive Driver

This Blog is a continuing instalment in my series entitled "The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway". To go to my short history of the D&PCR Co. click HERE. In this blog series we explore these "forgotten" enginemen, their early lives, their engineering and railway backgrounds, their employment with the D&PCR Co., and their subsequent railway and post railway careers and lives. 

Our second biography, having been pieced together from both published and family sources, charts the life of Mr John Thomas, being initially employed as a Locomotive Driver for the D&PCR Co. As we shall read, Mr Thomas went on to have a long and varied railways career in the south which also included a number of notable firsts in the annals of Otago's early railways. 


Double Fairlie "Josephine" as she appeared in 1925.
The baloon funnels were not original.
Photo by Percy Godber
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

Thomas remained proud of his railways career and the contributions he made but what appears to stand out is his great pride in not only having played an integral part in the establishment and running of the D&PCR Co but also, as we shall read, his personal connection to the 1872 double-bogie Fairlie Locomotive "Josephine", having in fact been preserved within his own lifetime. I can only imagine that it was indeed a proud moment and full of memories when John Thomas viewed the by now preserved, re-painted and highly polished "Josephine" when she formed an integral part of the New Zealand Railways display at the outstandingly popular 1925-26 Dunedin and South Seas Exhibition. 

From published and family records we know that John Thomas was born in Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales in 1844 but by 1851 was living with his family at Penydarren in Merthyr Tydfil, also in Glamorgan. Could the steam engine workings on the railways around Penydarren (also where the world's first steam powered locomotive commenced working in 1804) have influenced a young, impressionable and practical minded boy to seek a career as a locomotive engine driver?

The Thomas family subsequently moved to Newport, Monmouthshire where John would marry his wife Sarah in 1866. Interestingly, his Father-in-law happened also to be a locomotive engine driver. Prior to coming out to New Zealand John Thomas served from an early age with the illustrious "Great Western Railway" and then five years later joined the "London and North Western Railway", no doubt having risen through the ranks from a lowly engine cleaner to fireman to locomotive shunting & goods engine driver to passenger work. 

In 1871 Thomas "took part in the tests of Robert Fairlie's patent locomotives, and upon completion of these he signed articles of agreement (through Robert Fairlie) to proceed to New Zealand with the sister engines, The "Rose"and "Josephine", for Messrs Proudfoot, Oliver and Ulph, owners of the Dunedin-Port Chalmers Railway." I have found a reference that "Fairlie staged a series of very successful demonstrations on the Ffestiniog line [which had been successfully using a Failie locomotive since 1869] in February 1870 to high-powered delegations from the many parts of the world. This sold his invention (and the concept of the narrow gauge railway on which it was based) around the world." So I assume this may be the "tests" referred to, even if the date is a year out.

As previously noted in my short history of the D&PCR Co., Thomas came out to New Zealand from Bristol England on the "Wave Queen" with the locomotives "Josephine" and "Rose", arriving in Port Chalmers, Otago, New Zealand on the 28th August 1872 after a "fair passage" of 98 days. His wife and two children would follow him out in the "Naomi", arriving on the 24th May 1873 after "a particularly rough and stormy voyage". Bearing this in mind, we cannot discount that Thomas had perhaps intended returning home at the end of his contract or if things did not work out for him but decided to stay and then sent for his family to join him. At any rate it would have been a long thirteen month separation from his wife and family.

The Double-Fairlie Locomotive "Josephine" at Wickliff Terrace, 
Port Chalmers, believed taken during a trial run in Sept. 1872. 
Burton Brothers Photo.
[Source : OESA Collection, 1979]

On the 18th September 1872 we note that "Josephine", and being specifically driven by John Thomas, hauled the first ever goods train on the line, being a shipment of three hogsheads of beer from Burke's Brewery to Port Chalmers. This is in fact also the first recorded goods train on the 3'6" gauge system in New Zealand.

Then on Saturday the 26th October, with George Amos driving and John Thomas placed in charge of the brake van, "Josephine" conveyed, "by invitation of the contractors" several members of the Legislative Council and House of Representatives, including promoters Messrs David & George Proudfoot & the General Manager Mr Richard Oliver, from Port Chalmers on the partially ballasted line through to Dunedin in one of the first class carriages.

The No 2 locomotive "Josephine", with John Thomas now driving and Thomas Graham as his fireman, would forever hold the honour of hauling the first public rostered train on the line from Dunedin to Port Chalmers on Wednesday the 1st January 1873. This event was always a matter of great pride to Mr Thomas and continues to be so to his descendants today.

John Thomas would continue to be be employed by the Otago Provincial Government Railway after the purchase of the D&PCR Co. on the 10th April 1873.

On the 17th July 1873 Thomas was driving the last passenger train of the day when a "black object" was run over on the line about a quarter of a mile south of Burkes Brewery on the line between Dunedin and Port Chalmers. This was found to be one Angus McPherson, now deceased. His fireman is again noted as Thomas Graham. Conflicting evidence given at the inquest by Thomas and by the Guard, Frederick Farrow, as to whether steam had been shut off approaching the scene could easily, according to the Coroner, have implicated Thomas. But, in the end, and after a character reference was given, Thomas' conflicting evidence was simply put down to "confusion".

It was the Manager of the line, Mr Daniel Rolfe, who acquainted the jury with what he knew of Mr Thomas in the way of a supporting character reference; "He had known him as engine-driver in the service ever since the line was opened. He was a remarkably sober, steady, and industrious man. He had not been very long from Home [ie Britain]...". Based on the fact that McPherson has been "the worse for liquor at the time" the jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death". 

John Thomas remained an Otago based locomotive driver for the rest of his long career. In 1876 the Otago Provincial Government Railways would be taken over by the Central Government under the Public Works Dept. before becoming part of the Government owned "New Zealand Railways" (or "NZR") in 1880.

Additionally, "As soon as the Main North and South lines and Central Otago lines were completed, Mr Thomas had charge of the locomotives for the opening runs". Interestingly, this would again place him on the footplate of "Josephine" for her second claim to fame (or humiliation whichever way you look at it) when she met up with the American built and "flashy" Rogers K88 "Washington" at Oamaru to join the first through train upon the opening of the Main South Line to Dunedin on the 6th Sept. 1878 [Link HERE]. "Josephine's" early failure on the return to Dunedin was, as explained, not really of her making even if her tractive effort was slightly higher than that of the "K".  

Thomas, according to his obituary, went on to have "a particularly successful career of continuous footplate service with many classes of express engines, eventually retiring on superannuation in 1907". Furthermore he was noted as being "a particularly unobtrusive and retiring man, well liked by all who knew him, and was a great favourite with the locomotive staff and the officers of the several departments". The New Zealand Railways Magazine, who refers to him as "Jack Thomas", described him "as everyone's old friend".

At a University Club luncheon given in July 1928, Mr W.F. Sligo (Past Night Foreman of the Dunedin Locomotive Dept.) noted that John Thomas, "was a particularly successful driver, and was resourceful, cool, punctual, and thoroughly reliable. He must have possessed all these qualifications to have gone on for 50 years and to have left the record he had left as a driver. He had one collision, and on one occasion he lost a fireman [Ebenezer Brown] near the Goodwood bridge [on the 14th Feb 1885].... Mr Thomas' first fireman was a man named Tom [Thomas] Graham." 


Gravestone of John & Sarah Thomas & Family
in the Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.
Note that "NZR" is placed alongside his name.
[Source : Dunedin City Council]

John and Sarah resided in Mornington in Dunedin with John continuing to reside here after Sarah's death in January 1912. John ("Jack") Thomas died at the home of his son in St. Kilda, Dunedin on the 28th July 1928 and is buried with his wife Sarah in the Southern Cemetery. Both the obituary for his fireman Thomas Graham, who died in 1919, and the above Mr Sligo when speaking in 1928 quote his name as "Jack Thomas" so it would appear that he was always known on the railways and to his close friends as "Jack" rather than "John" which is the diminutive and common form of the latter name. Thomas was survived by four sons and one daughter, all being married. A son died in 1878 aged seven years.

I find it rather sad that from being Josephine's first driver and personally taking part in and witnessing so many momentous events in the formative history of Otago's early railways that his name has now all but been forgotten. While the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum have his photo, being clearly labelled as Josephine's first driver, this early connection is not publicly acknowledged.


Copyright : This blog may not be reproduced without my specific written permission and / or that of family descendants. Excerpts may however be quoted for non-commercial and academic use provided this site is acknowledged. Please feel free, however, to publicize this Blog.

Sources :

- Papers Past / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- Archives New Zealand / Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
- Heritage New Zealand / Pouhere Taonga
- "The New Zealand Railways Magazine", 1934
- Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
- McNab Room, Dunedin Public Library
- "Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway - New Zealand's First 3ft 6in Gauge Line" by TA McGavin, 1973 (From my own collection)
- "Josephine and Her Friends" by JA Dangerfield, c.1994
- Genealogy.com
- Auckland War Memorial Museum / Tamaki Paenga Hira
- With grateful thanks to a Thomas family descendant for their very helpful assistance

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin & Port Chalmers Railway Coy., 1872-73 (Part Two)


Gravestone of George Hendrie Amos
St. James Anglican Cemetery, Blakiston, S.A.
[Source : Annette Schirmer,
Regional Cemetery Curator]

Mr J. George Hendrie Amos - Chief Engineer

This Blog is a continuing instalment in my series entitled "The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway". To go to my short history of the D&PCR Co. click HERE. In this blog series we explore these "forgotten" enginemen, their early lives, their engineering and railway backgrounds, their employment with the D&PCR Co., and their subsequent railway and post railway careers and lives. 

Our first biography, having been pieced together from a myriad of diverse but interconnecting published and Internet sources, charts the life of Mr J. George Hendrie Amos, being employed as the D&PCR Co. Chief Engineer. From my research I would describe Mr Amos as a very practical, well liked and highly respected man, skilled and very knowledgeable in engineering and railway matters, adaptable and definitely not afraid to try something new, a loving husband and father, but perhaps unfortunately not so skilled in affairs of business or just simply unlucky. As we shall read, his varied life was sadly cut short in the prime of his life.

George Amos is recorded as having been born to Francis and Jane (née Baxter) Amos on the 23rd March 1842 at Smithdown Lane, Liverpool, England. His gravestone states that he was "formerly of Crewe, England". His earlier working life is, as yet, unknown but Crewe was a major railway junction for the London & North Western Railway, additionally being the location of their large locomotive works. As he obviously held a locomotive driver's qualification when working with the D&PCR Co. in Otago he must have had previous firing and driving experience on the railways in England, presumably based at or around Crewe if we take his gravestone as a clue. 

George Amos is specifically noted in a short history of the 'Fairlie' locomotive "Josephine" as being "the representative of the Vulcan Foundry" and "Chief Engineer" for the D&PCR Co. Additionally, the 1994 publication "Port Chalmers and its People" by Ian Church quotes Amos as "of the Fairlie Company". I assume this to refer to the Vulcan Foundry who manufactured the Fairlie locomotives. 

As Amos would supervise the assembly of at least one of the locomotives and of their running I first assumed that his services as an Engineer were no doubt included in the contract signed to supply the locomotives and this may in fact still be so. Sending a trained company representative half way around the world to oversee construction and assembly of technical equipment was standard practice and I have also noted this with such diverse and complex constructions as gas works and large pipe organ installations. 

But then I discovered that Amos had formerly worked as an Engineer for the Kaipara Flax Mills in Northland, New Zealand and had returned "home" (i.e. to Britain) sometime in early 1871. Amos then "returned [to New Zealand] to take charge of the fitting up of the locomotives, carriages, trucks, &c., for the Port Chalmers Railway". So, knowing that the D&PCR Co had been formed in early 1871 we cannot discount the possibility that his return to Britain had been arranged by the latter Company for their specific purposes. But without doubt Amos, and as Engineer in Charge, must have received some technical training at the Vulcan Foundry at Newton-le-Willows in Lancashire. He was also noted as being "accompanied [on the 'Wave Queen' to New Zealand] by two assistants, Messrs Thomas and Gatwood".

Men on the footplate of "Josephine" in Sept 1872.
I believe the man at front left to be David Proudfoot
but could the Driver at front right be George Amos?
[Source : OESA Collection, 1979]

Amos is recorded as having supervised the fitting up of the Fairlie locomotive "Josephine" in a shed on the pier at Port Chalmers in Otago after their arrival on the "Wave Queen" on the 28th August 1872. Therefore, and as we know that he held the requisite locomotive driver's ticket, I feel sure that Amos would have been driving "Josephine", if not at least being on the footplate, when she made her first trial run through the new Port Tunnel to Blanket (Sawyers) Bay and return on Tuesday the 10th September 1872.

George Amos is first specifically noted as actually driving a locomotive when, on Saturday the 26th October 1872, he drove "Josephine" from Port Chalmers through to Dunedin on the partially ballasted line with his associate John Thomas being in charge of the brake van. Being conveyed on the train in a first class carriage were the promoters as well as members of the Legislature and House of Representatives.

I would assume that besides driving Amos attended to engineering matters and keeping the locomotives and rolling stock in good working condition. He would also continue to be be employed by the Otago Provincial Government Railway after the purchase of the D&PCR Co. on the 10th April 1873. 

On the 17th May 1873 Amos is noted as driving the locomotive "Clutha" from the fitting shed in South Dunedin to the [old] Caversham Tunnel on the new "Southern Trunk Line" in the presence of the District Engineer, Mr Blair, and the Inspector of Plant, Mr Turton. Then Amos is further noted as driving a Glasgow manufactured 'Neilson' saddle tank locomotive conveying around 120 gentlemen (note no ladies!) from Dunedin to the then terminus of Green Island on the first "Railway Excursion" on the line which took place on the 14th December 1873. According to Mr W.F. Sligo, retired Railway Foreman in 1928, his fireman around this time was Charlie Stewart who would later become Locomotive Foreman in Dunedin.

An early photo of Elizabeth Barrett,
Later Mrs George Amos
[Source : My Heritage]

On the 21st July 1874 George Amos would marry Elizabeth (Eliza) Barrett of Dunedin. Online family records would indicate that Elizabeth was born in New York to Michael Barrett, a native of Galway, Ireland, and Mary Jennings. Both her parents are buried in the Southern Cemetery, Dunedin. While George was Anglican and the marriage took place in St Paul's Anglican Church in Dunedin, the Barrett family - and Elizabeth - were Catholic. Their differing religions appears not to have caused any rifts with the Barrett family. 

In November 1874 a railway collision at Hillside with railway trucks being left on the line led to a Government criminal prosecution with "the accused", being driver George Amos, and "recently locomotive foreman", having been subsequently "suspended" from his position, being charged with criminal negligence under the Railways Offences Act, 1865. At a preliminary hearing the Government Prosecutor, Mr Stout, did however accept that Amos "had been an engine driver and railway employee for the last twenty years, and as such bore the highest possible character".

Upon the case being formally heard and hearing all evidence, the Magistrate, and no doubt with considerable relief on the part of Mr Amos, "did not consider defendant responsible for any disregard of duty, and whilst expressing an opinion that there had been neglect on somebody's part, he dismissed the case." Mr Amos then happily resumed his position as Locomotive Foreman. 

In February 1875 two locomotives are noted as having been fitted up in Dunedin "under the superintendence of Mr Amos". This would be at the Government Railway workshops in South Dunedin, being located close to the site of where the Hillside Railway Workshops would be established in 1877.

The old Oamaru Railway Station (centre) & Engine Shed (left).
The line at left is to the north while that to right is to the south
thus all trains had to inconveniently reverse out of the station.
[Source : NZ Railways Publicity]

By January 1876 Amos was now the Inspector of Permanent Way and Rolling Stock for the Provincial Government Railway at Oamaru in North Otago. In May 1876 he gave evidence at the inquest into "The Waiareka Railway Accident" which also (very) indirectly involved his former associate Frederick Gatwood from the erstwhile D&PCR Co. Railway.

On the 13th June 1878 Amos was farewelled from his position as Railways Foreman at Oamaru, being given an illuminated framed testimonial and a purse of sovereigns [with a value of £52] from the Railways Dept. employees. The testimonial noted his "straight-forward and gentlemanly conduct [which] earned the respect and good wishes of everyone with whom you have come in contact". Amos advised those present that the reason for his retirement was due to being called upon, without consultation and against his wishes, "to proceed to Timaru" with the Dept. but wished not to leave Oamaru and resented this "promotion of a doubtful nature".

By early July 1878 Amos had adopted a quite surprising new line of business - that of Proprietor of the Shamrock Hotel in Thames street, Oamaru. On Saturday the 6th July he was "installed" with "musical honours" by the Railways Band who had turned out "in full force" to honour their friend of whom they held "the greatest regard". 

The new "Northern Hotel" under construction, 1880
[Source : Waitaki District Archives]

By January 1879 Amos had bought the old wooden Northern Hotel in Oamaru but then, despite there then being no less than 17 hotels in Oamaru, promptly engaged Architects Thomas Forrester and John Lemon to design a fancy new Hotel to be constructed in Oamaru limestone in the Italianate style. This new hotel building is still extant today on the corner of Tyne street and Wansbeck street in the Oamaru Historic Precinct, being category listed two by Heritage New Zealand, but is missing the original decorative pediment and no longer serves the purposes of a hotel.

The Northern Hotel in its Heyday as shown on a
public display board, Oamaru Historic Precinct
[From my own collection] 

Advertisements for the hotel would always, and no doubt with some pride, include the reference, "Late of the Railways Department". While in September 1880 Amos was accused of selling 26% under proof brandy (ie, with water added post distillation) so was, it would seem, the rest of the proprietors in the town! Amos did not contest the case and was, as were most of the others, fined the nominal sum of five shillings. So basically just an official slap on the hand and thankfully nothing more.

The Former Northern Hotel, Tyne St, Oamaru
as it appears today (minus the original pediment)
[Source : From my own collection]

But in March 1883 we now find that George Hendrie Amos, Hotelkeeper of the Northern Hotel, Oamaru, had been declared bankrupt, then selling up to Lewis Morton. I assume Amos had simply overstretched his finances with the expense of rebuilding work and stiff local competition. Thereafter, and at an unknown date, Amos subsequently moved with his wife and family to Australia. I have checked with the local Waitaki District Archive in Oamaru who cannot identify any photographs of George Amos.

The Great Eastern Hotel, Littlehampton when owned
by Mr J. Stuart, post 1886
[Source : State Library of South Australia]

It would appear that from at least February 1885 Amos then became the Publican of the 'Great Eastern Hotel' at Littlehampton, South Australia, being 34 km south east of Adelaide. As noted below, it is quite possible that after Oamaru they had previously resided in both Sydney, New South Wales and in Melbourne, Victoria. Amos appears to have been a genial and generous host. I note one occasion in February 1885 where Amos supplied "Five hundred parrots and 250 pigeons" for a pigeon and parrot shooting match, thereafter supplying luncheon for the shooters. 

Sadly, and on the 21st May 1885, George and Elizabeth Amos would lose their two year old son Frank Victor Amos to "Convulsions" at the Great Eastern Hotel. 

I subsequently note a "licensing transfer" dated the 9th June 1886 which confirms a transfer from "G.H. Amos to J. Stuart, Great Eastern Hotel, Littlehampton". Stuart's name appears on the pediment of the original hotel building shown above.

The Royal Hotel, Balaklava, South Australia

Also in June 1886 we note another "licensing transfer" being "G.H. Amos [to] Royal Hotel, Balaklava". Balaklava is a rural town 93 kilometers north of Adelaide. For Amos this would appear to be a 'step up' from the previous hotel and was no doubt an effort to work his way back up again after his humiliating financial failure at Oamaru.

But fate would deal the family a further cruel blow as his sojourn here as Publican would, unfortunately, be very short lived. George Amos, "Victualler", the husband of Elizabeth (Eliza) Barrett (formerly of Dunedin) and father of four children, died at the Royal Hotel in Balaklava, South Australia on the 15th April 1887 at the still relatively young age of 45 years and is buried at the St. James Anglican Cemetery, Blakiston, South Australia. I did wonder why he was buried at Blakiston but then discovered that it is an adjoining township to Littlehampton where he had previously resided and after I obtained a photo of his gravestone I could see that his son Frank had been buried here in May 1885 so neither Father nor son rest alone.

New Zealand, Sydney and Melbourne newspapers were asked to copy the death notice which would strongly indicate that George Amos and his family\resided in Sydney and Melbourne after leaving Oamaru after 1883 and before moving to Littlehampton prior to 1885. I have, however, not been able to establish the cause of death as this would incur a charge. Amos gave his entire estate probated at a value of less than £500 to his wife. 

As to his surviving wife Elizabeth Amos née Barrett, her Mother's Probate records for 1907 show that she had married again to Mr John Francis Bryan and was then living back in Dunedin. Elizabeth (Eliza) Bryan, née Barrett, previous Amos, and born in 1859, died suddenly at the residence of her son Ernest in Christchurch on the 10th February 1916 aged 57 years and is buried in the Sydenham Cemetery. Her second husband John Bryan, and aged 66 years, died on the 20th May 1921 from injuries he received after being knocked down by a tram in Christchurch. Both John and Elizabeth are buried together.

George Amos was survived by two daughters, Mrs Mary Jane Millward (died Surbiton, Surrey, England 1972), and Mrs Greta (1) Gunson / and later (2) Alexander (died Birkenhead, NZ 1st April 1947), and a son, Ernest Amos (died Christchurch 1st March 1960). His second son, Frank Victor Amos (as noted above) died at Littlehampton, South Australia on the 21st May 1885. 

The strong New Zealand connection gives me some hope that direct descendants of George Amos and Elizabeth Barrett / Amos / Bryan will come forward (I have already had contact with one) with further information and possibly family photographs. It would be wonderful to finally track down a photograph of George Amos and put a face to the name so that we can give him the recognition he richly deserves for the leading part he played in the establishment and running of Otago's earliest railway.

Copyright : This blog may not be reproduced without my specific written permission and / or that of family descendants. Excerpts may however be quoted for non-commercial and academic use provided this site is acknowledged. Please feel free, however, to publicize this Blog.

Sources :

- Papers Past / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- Archives New Zealand / Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
- Heritage New Zealand / Pouhere Taonga
- "The New Zealand Railways Magazine", 1934
- Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
- McNab Room, Dunedin Public Library
- "Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway - New Zealand's First 3ft 6in Gauge Line" by TA McGavin, 1973
- "Josephine and Her Friends" by JA Dangerfield, c.1994
- Genealogy.com
- Trove (National Library of Australia)
- With an acknowledgement to Mark Alexander, United Kingdom

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Forgotten Enginemen of the Dunedin & Port Chalmers Railway Coy., 1872-73 (Part One)


Partially Identified Men on the Footplate of Double-Fairlie 
Locomotive "Josephine" at Wickliff Terrace, Port Chalmers, 
believed taken during a trial run in Sept. 1872. 
Burton Brothers Photo.
[Source : OESA Collection, 1979]

The still extant and quite unique Dunedin & Port Chalmers Railway Company (D&PCR Coy) 145 year old double-ended Fairlie locomotive "Josephine" of 1872 now resides in pride of place in the entrance foyer of the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum here in Dunedin New Zealand. My Blog on the history of this very special and much loved locomotive can be read HERE.

But the early Enginemen of the formative D&PCR Coy., including "Josephine's" first driver and fireman, have been rather neglected. Recent contact with a family descendant of one of these men prompted me to further explore these now forgotten Enginemen. This research connected me to yet another family descendant and, as is quite often the case when I write about people, further descendants will hopefully come forward with additional information and, dare I hope, even photographs of the said people as so far we only have one identified image.

This blog is therefore an attempt to tell something of the story of these almost forgotten Enginemen or at least acknowledge their individual contribution to the railways. These men hold the great honour of having served on Otago's first 3ft 6in gauge railway then, after 1873, with the formative Otago Provincial Government Railways, and after 1876 with the New Zealand Government Railways. The three Enginemen are Messrs Amos, Thomas, and Gatwood but also including Fireman Graham. The three Enginemen appear to have all been recruited in England, coming over with "Josephine" and her sister engine "Rose" in the sailing vessel "Wave Queen" in 1872.

So, what do we know of the railway itself? A railway linking Dunedin with its port had earlier been considered when in 1864 the then Otago Provincial Engineer, Mr Swyer, costed an eight to nine mile line for the Provincial Government at around £9,500 per mile and recommended a railway rather than a "horse tramway". His objections to the latter were considered "to be quite visionary". After many amendments this proposal did not proceed.

The Line from Dunedin to Port Chalmers
[Source : "Dunedin & Port Chalmers Railway"
by Tom McGavin, NZR&L Soc. 1973]

But in October 1869 Consulting Engineer Mr J Miller F.S.A., M.P.C, and again on behalf of the Provincial Government, submitted "The Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Report" prepared to a new plan and costed at £7,500 per mile or just £60,000. The latter recommended the use of "Fairlie" type locomotives and various types and quantity of railway vehicles. Originally to be gauged at 4ft 8½in using 55lb rail, the gauge was later reduced to 3ft 6in to comply with the NZ Railways Act 1870 which now (and sensibly) specified a standard gauge to be used throughout New Zealand.

On the 25th January 1870 an agreement was then reached with private contractors to build the line at their expense, with the Otago Provincial Government guaranteeing a return on their investment of 8% pa. In early 1871 the promoters, now being Messrs "Proudfoot, Oliver, and Ulph", formed a private company in England called "The Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Company, Limited". I believe the top-hatted gentleman at centre left in the footplate photo at the top of this page to be David Proudfoot, one of the promoters.

David Proudfoot, One of the Promoters
[Source : Te Ara Govt.nz]

The Company then, as per the Provincial Government agreement, sought advice on the design and supply of the requisite locomotives and rolling stock from London based Consulting Railway Engineer, the Scottish born, Robert Francis Fairlie C.E. The "Otago Witness" of the 30th September 1871 indeed confirms that, "all the plant is being constructed under the supervision of Mr Fairlie, Inventor of the bogie engine, consulting engineer to the promoters".

The "Fairlie" engine had been designed especially for narrow gauge light railways. Already successfully in use since 1869 on the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway in Wales and further proven in locomotive trials in early 1871, the "famous Fairlie system" would prove admirably suited to the new 3ft 6in D&PCR Co. line. While some New Zealand railwaymen would perhaps hold a very different opinion Otago railwaymen were, as noted in a previous blog, always fiercely loyal to their unique Double-Fairlie locomotives. The quite ingenious 'double-ended' Fairlie design with two swivelling bogies, a central low firebox, and side tanks aiding traction certainly had some advantages which a conventional locomotive could not compete with.

Two locomotives of the "Fairlie" design, being named "Rose" and "Josephine", were then ordered from the "Vulcan Foundry Company" of Newton-le-Willows in Lancashire England as works numbers 636 and 637 respectively. The names were selected by Mr Richard Oliver, the Company General Manager and one of the promoters, while on a visit to England on behalf of the company. Both locomotives, being supplied in kitset form, were shipped out on the 853 ton iron clipper ship "Wave Queen", departing from Bristol England (having first called at Liverpool) on the 27th April 1872 and arriving at Port Chalmers New Zealand on the 28th August 1872 after a "fair passage" of 98 days.

But prior to their arrival, and back at Port Chalmers, a contractors' "locomotive" drawing waggons was reported to have passed through the new Port Tunnel on Thursday the 27th June 1872. We then read that this "temporary" locomotive had been constructed by Messrs Easton and McGregor, Engineers of Port Chalmers, "out of a [modified English manufactured] steam crane, for the promoters of the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway."

The design of this decidedly "Heath Robinson" locomotive is worth relating; "They placed the boiler and machinery of a steam crane upon an ordinary waggon, to which they added a few toothed wheels to give motion to one pair of wheels which were thus converted into driving wheels; and with this novel locomotive, which would have pleased George Stephenson himself.... they have contrived to do an amount of work that would otherwise have involved a heavy cost or most vexatious delay".   

A few days later it was further reported that, "At first it worked rather stiffly but now it is in fine trim, and takes along ten tons with ease." and had, "already done good work ballasting the line and taking from the Port towards Dunedin any plant required." At a speech given in 1928, Mr W.F. Sligo Retired Railway Foreman, states that the engine "assisted in ballasting the line up to Black Jack's Point." As to performance, "Its consumption of coal for a day's work is about the price of two horses' feed". Contrary to an initial report, this was not the first "locomotive" constructed in New Zealand [link]. It was however noted that the "Wave Queen" with "the real locomotives for the line" would arrive shortly.

Accompanying the two 'Fairlie' locomotives on the "Wave Queen", along with a considerable quantity of railway plant, were the afore-mentioned George Amos, an Engineer; John Thomas, a Locomotive Driver; and Frederick Gatwood, an Assistant Engineer. All three men would play a leading role in the assembly of at least "Josephine" then the working of the two locomotives on the line before and after the official opening. Thomas Graham, an experienced railwayman, would initially be employed as a fireman.

The Port Chalmers Line emerging into the cutting having just passed
through the Port Tunnel and heading towards Blanket Bay.
[Source : Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira]

We know that No 2 "Josephine", having been completed in a shed on the pier by Mr Amos and his team, got up steam for the very first time on Tuesday the 10th September 1872, her whistle being heard from the Port Chalmers pier at "half-past ten in the forenoon". At 5pm that same day, and with "about 30 gentlemen out of the crowd in attendance", "Josephine" made a successful trial run through the new Port Tunnel to Blanket (Sawyers) Bay and return, being accompanied by the cheers of the local populace.

The No 1 "Rose", having been fitted up by the firm of Messrs Easton & McGregor, being Engineers, Millwrights, Blacksmiths & Founderers of Port Chalmers, would be steamed for the first time the following day, being the 11th September 1872. At 3.30 pm that day she was taken on a trial trip in light steam from Port Chalmers with "Josephine" coupled on at front as lead engine, the journey to Blanket Bay and return being made at a speed of about twenty miles per hour. The cry "In Heads", being in deference to public safety, was made as the locomotives proceeded through the port tunnel. The footplate crew are not named.

On the 18th September "Josephine", being driven by John Thomas, hauled the first ever goods train on the line - a shipment of three hogsheads of beer from Burke's Brewery to Port Chalmers. Thereafter both locomotives ran daily ballasting and works trains down the line.

Double-Fairlie Locomotive "Rose" passing
Burke's Brewery with a passenger train, circa 1873
[From an old print]

Then on Saturday the 26th October, with George Amos driving and John Thomas in charge of the brake van, "Josephine" conveyed, "by invitation of the contractors" several members of the Legislative Council and House of Representatives, including promoters Messrs David & George Proudfoot & the General Manager Mr Richard Oliver, from Port Chalmers through to Dunedin in one of the first class carriages, the line now being in a sufficient state of completion but not fully ballasted. With speed restrictions and stoppages the down journey of just under eight miles took "forty and a half minutes" with the return journey being "accomplished much faster".

Due to the "liberality of Mr Proudfoot" and the non-availability of the Harbour Company's steamer, an unscheduled trip took place on Tuesday the 29th October with passengers from the "S.S. Rangitoto" being conveyed to Dunedin but neither the locomotive used or driver is noted. A train was also intended to run on the Prince of Wales' birthday, being the 9th November 1872.

No 1 "Rose", and being "gaily decorated" is recorded as holding the honour of hauling the first official train from Dunedin to the newly named Lady Bowen Pier at Port Chalmers at the opening of the line by The Governor of New Zealand, His Excellency Sir George Bowen G.C.M.G. on Tuesday the 31st December 1872 at 12 noon. A stop was made on the way at Burke's Brewery. As to whether they imbibed some of the local beer is not recorded but it was, after all, a celebratory occasion. The return journey to Dunedin was completed in 22 minutes, "the quickest journey yet made". A cold collation was then provided in the University Hall with "about 16 gentlemen" [i.e. no ladies invited!] in attendance with effusive speeches and official toasts being given.

Non-timetabled public trains appear to have then run for the rest of the afternoon as the advertisement for the opening ceremony states that, "After 2 o'clock pm the trains will run between Dunedin and Port Chalmers at frequent intervals".

The Old Dunedin Railway Station
Burton Bros. Photo, circa 1874
[From an old print]

But the No 2 "Josephine", with John Thomas driving and Thomas Graham as his fireman, would have her moment of fame the following day, being Wednesday the 1st January 1873, when she is recorded as having hauled the first scheduled public train on the line from Dunedin to Port Chalmers. This was always a matter of great pride to Mr Thomas and a fact that his descendants have never forgotten.

Thereafter a regular timetabled service of six daily "up" and "down" mixed passenger and goods trains continued until the company was taken over by the Otago Provincial Government Railways on the 10th April 1873 at a cost of £187,106

From the 1st January 1873 fares were set at 2s for a single passenger ticket or 3s return travelling First class and 1s 6d single or 2s return travelling Second class. General goods would be conveyed at 5s per ton with "Special Goods at Special Rates" upon enquiry.

Unfortunately the line met with at least three early fatalities. Firstly Robert Carr, a labourer, died in hospital on the 3rd October 1871 after being injured from a fall of earth whilst engaged in the excavation of the Port Tunnel the previous day. Another labourer, named John Long, would be fatally injured by a blast in the Port Tunnel at half past one on the afternoon of the 28th March 1872. Two powder fuses were set but only one lit. Re-entering the tunnel to set the second fuse after the first blast the 'unlit' fuse unexpectedly exploded causing a stone to fall on his head killing him instantly. The first fatality on the line itself would be Angus McPherson who, under the influence of alcohol, was run over by a train near Burkes on the 17th July 1873. 

But what specifically do we know of our railwaymen, Messrs Amos, Thomas, Graham and Gatwood? This Blog series explores these early D&PCR Co. Enginemen, including their often surprisingly peripatetic and fascinating subsequent careers and lives which proved to be both long, and sadly in two cases, suddenly cut short in the prime of their lives.

Please click on these links to read their stories :

- Mr J. George H. Amos - Chief Engineer

Mr John Thomas - Locomotive Driver

Mr Thomas Graham - Fireman 

Mr Frederick Gatwood - Assistant Engineer


Copyright : This blog may not be reproduced without my specific written permission and / or that of family descendants. Excerpts may however be quoted for non-commercial and academic use provided this site is acknowledged. Please feel free, however, to publicize this Blog.

Sources :

- Papers Past / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- Archives New Zealand / Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
- Heritage New Zealand / Pouhere Taonga
- "The New Zealand Railways Magazine", 1934
- Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
- McNab Room, Dunedin Public Library
- "Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway - New Zealand's First 3ft 6in Gauge Line" by TA McGavin, 1973 (From my own collection)
- "Josephine and Her Friends" by JA Dangerfield, c.1994
- Genealogy.com
- Trove (National Library of Australia)
- Auckland War Memorial Museum / Tamaki Paenga Hira
- With thanks to Thomas and Gatwood family descendants for their generous assistance

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...