May 23, 2009

1929 Electric Railcar Service to Lyttelton

A 1929 English Electric Company's locomotive arriving at Lyttelton.

The service was inaugurated at 3 pm on Thursday, the 14th of February, 1929. Early Canterbury settlers and guests of the New Zealand Government Railways Department were issued with free passes on that day.

Twenty return services were provided each day, with the journey taking about seventeen minutes. Commenced in 1867, passenger services between Christchurch and Lyttelton ended in 1976.

Addendum (further to a reader's comment)

The southeast corner of Manchester & Tuam Streets

By 1872 the corner was occupied by the Timber & Coal merchant Robert England (1839-1919), father of the England brothers of architectural fame. By 1900 (above) the business was owned by Wood and Laurie

First established at Lyttelton in 1851, the premises of J. M. Heywood & Company Ltd were built on the corner between 1908 and 1910 (centre, middle distance). The Customs, Insurance, and General Commission Agent's building was demolished about 1986.

Situated immediately to the East of the Heywood building, at 224-226 Tuam Street, was the premises of the general merchants E. W. Pidgeon & Company. Its last incarnation was as Federal Motors, service and parts agents for Renault, Peugot and Daihatsu cars. The building was demolished about 1997.

1950 aerial photograph of the Heywood and Pidgeon buildings.

1984 aerial photograph of the Heywood and Pidgeon buildings.


dave henderson said...

this question is not relevant to this post, but do you have any photographic record of the buildings that have previously occupied the south east corner of Tuam and Manchester. In particular, there was a 5 level brick structure there in the first half of last century. I would be grateful for anything you have on this site. thanks,

J Humm said...

The story behind that photo does not match the event mentioned in the information. The photo is of the battery-electric railcar operated in the Canterbury area between 1926-34 (when it was destroyed by fire.

The event you are reffering to is the introduction of electric trains over the Christchurch-Lyttelton railway utilising overhead wires (such as in Wellington). 6 EC class locomotives were used for all trains (including an extensive suburban service) until September 1970 when the locos were withdrawn and replaced by diesels. Suburban services ended on 28 February 1972 and all passenger services in 1976 following the withdrawal of the inter-island ferry service.

The battery railcar in the photo has an altogether different background and history which included operating to Lyttelton until the overhead was switched on in 1929.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Dave Henderson: appended to the article is a quickie research, with 5 photos, of the south east corner of Tuam and Manchester Streets. I'm fairly sure that the Canterbury Museum have a good early 1980s colour photo of the Heywood building in their collection.

J Humm: many thanks for the correction and additional information. The photo has been replaced and the text amended.

dave henderson said...

Thank you so much for those images. I had a recollection (vague) of a very strong building on the corner there. I assume it was demolished by the Eliza White Trust, as was the Pidgeon building? I am surprised that the latter did not survive given it had hung in there to the late ninties. Again, many thanks. May I use those images?

Canterbury Heritage said...

Alfred J White had acquired most of the block by the 1890s, but from what could seem like mismanagement, the Eliza White Trust appears to have been on its last legs by the time that the Railton Hotel was demolished in the early 1970s.

The Pidgeon building probably owed its longer survival to having been sold off separately, but by the 1990s it was in a fairly dilapidated state (photo available, as are the others in larger sizes).

The Library has a pamphlet about the Eliza White Trust.

You're most welcome to use the images.

Jayne said...

Beautiful railcar, love those old working dogs and the carriage almost looks like our old Red Rattlers (Tait cars.
That was a lovely building, such a shame it managed to survive so long and then get the boot.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Restored to pristine condition, the red electric locomotive survives in the Ferrymead Heritage Park, which is a sort of conglomeration of boy's sheds and last refuge for tinkering lads of all ages.

Shame about the Heywood building, but in what is fast becoming the Paris end of town, the site is an ideal location for lower to medium priced low-rise apartments.

Canterbury Photography said...

Legend has it that Allan McLean, then aged nearly eighty and one of the wealthiest men in Canterbury, walked into the offices of England Brothers Architects and told the clerk he wanted the plan of a house. He was offered the blueprint of a conventional four-roomed cottage popular at the time. McLean retorted abruptly - "Not four rooms, but FORTY!" He was then ushered into the office of R. W. England. The result being what was then reputed to be the largest wooden residence in New Zealand - at 387 Manchester Street, McLeans Mansion with 53 separate rooms.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Next door to the Shaw Savill building, the office in which Allan McLean met Robert England was situated above the shops on the southeast corner of Cashel and High Streets. Both buildings were demolished in 1986 to make way for the United Bank's high rise. Converted to a hotel 9 years later, it's currently known as the Holiday Inn.

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Richard V. said...

Nice picture of the EC locomotive (it isn't a railcar). I recall travelling on a train hauled by one back in the 1960s during a visit to Christchurch.