Canterbury Provincial Railways
The Canterbury Provincial Railways were an early part of the railways of New Zealand. Built by the Canterbury Provincial government to the broad gauge of 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm), the railway reached most of the Canterbury region by the time the province was abolished in 1876. Edward Dobson, the Provincial Engineer from 1854 to 1868, was the designer and overseer.
New Zealand's first public railway was opened from Christchurch to Ferrymead in 1863. In 1867 the Ferrymead section was made redundant when the line through the Lyttelton rail tunnel to the port of Lyttelton opened. The contractors who had built the line operated the trains until 31 July 1868, when the Canterbury Provincial Railways took direct control.
The Canterbury Provincial Railways built two lines into rural areas along the east coast, the Main South Line to Timaru and eventually Dunedin, and the Main North Line towards Marlborough. Both lines were built as broad gauge, as far as Rakaia on the Main South Line, reached in June 1873, and Amberley 50 km north of Christchurch, on the Main North Line.
By the time the provinces were abolished and the Provincial Railways absorbed into the national network, the Canterbury network had been converted from broad gauge to narrow gauge (3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)).
The Canterbury Provincial Railways operated ten steam locomotives of varying types, not divided into separate classes. They were all tank locomotives based on contemporary British practice and were built by the Avonside Engine Company, except for no. 9 by Neilson and Company. Nos. 1-4 had a 2-4-0T wheel arrangement: 1 was built for the Melbourne and Essendon Railway Company of Australia in 1862 but was quickly on-sold to the contractors building the Ferrymead line, and it entered revenue service when the line opened; 2 arrived in April 1864, 3 in March 1867 and 4 in May 1868. Also in May 1868 nos. 5 and 6, ordered in March 1867, arrived: they were of 0-4-2T wheel arrangement and were considerably smaller. Three more 0-4-2T locomotives followed, each ordered independently, 7 entering service in August 1872, 8 in March 1874 and 10 in June 1874. No. 9 was a diminutive 0-4-0T ordered after 8 but entered service before it, in January 1874, shunting on Lyttelton wharf.
Only no. 1 was withdrawn while in Canterbury Provincial Railways' service, in 1876. When the conversion of the Canterbury lines to narrow gauge was completed, its frame and the other nine locomotives were sold to the South Australian Railways. Despite being involved in a shipwreck near Foxton on the North Island's west coast on their journey to Australia, they ultimately were safely delivered to South Australia and with considerable modification seven of them remained in service until the 1920s.
- T. A. McGavin, Steam Locomotives of New Zealand, Part One: 1863 to 1900 (Wellington: New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society, 1987), 9.
- McGavin, Steam Locomotives of New Zealand, Part One, 9-11.