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A New Zealand garden railway in 1933


I was recently perusing some long-forgotten copies of the Armstrong Whitworth Record, which was a promotional magazine produced by the engineering group.


The following photos, with not much supporting text, show the Roberts Stewart Roberts Railway which was in Auckland.  This was built "not as a plaything but as a historical record of the New Zealand Railways, Locomotives and Rolling Stock from the earliest days".

"The completeness of the data collected in the work of building this line is astonishing, every locomotive, every vehicle, is a true to scale model of a prototype whose history is known in amazing detail as the result of the tireless searching out and writing to scores of descendants of old railway employees."


There was no mention of scale or gauge, and of course I was wondering if the models have survived to today.  They were built by Frank Roberts, with the research done by Mr W. Stewart, and Frank's brother George helped build the line.






A very helpful reply from Alan at the New Zealand Model Railway Guild explains that the locomotives and rolling stock models have survived and were sold to the NZ Government Railways by Frank Roberts in the 1950s. The models are now in the possession of Te Papa Tongarewa/Museum of New Zealand and appear on exhibition from time to time.


He confirms that the models are G gauge (which in the 1930s would presumably have been called gauge 1).  Given NZ's 3'6" track, the scale is 1:24.


The Wikipedia page I've found on Frank Roberts 


has a link to the NZ museum where there are photographs of the models which show their superb detail:



Frank lived from 1882 to 1963.  A book called Vintage steam: stories by Frank Roberts, edited by Gordon Troup was published in 1967.  Then a book by Frank Roberts' daughter was published in 1976, covering his life, his workmanship and love of steam power and the making of the garden railway with the aid of his brother, George and friend, Bill Stewart.


It's good that this pioneer of garden railways has a place in history.

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Yesterday's activity


Better to take the photos in historical order, although there's a story about the C21st images below.  So, we begin in the 1950s with the Jubilee taking its train through some idyllic parts of northern England in high summer.  Listen to the birdsong!


First, passing Throstlebeck Sidings






Crossing Foxdale Bank






Coasting across the girder bridge






and romping down Bamboo Curtain Straight






Moving on, the twentyfirst century proved to be most frustrating as the Bachmann intermodal wagons are particularly demanding in terms of track quality.  The aged and warped timber which constitutes the DGR trackbed really is not to their liking.  It proved impossible to get the rake to do anything like a complete circuit of the line without derailments left, right and centre.  There seems to be very little play on the bogies, so any vertical twisting of the track just sees several bogies bouncing along on the sleepers. 

Having tried things in both directions, eventually I gave up trying to run the intermodal train and just took photos of it.  At least they don't indicate the extent of the aggrevation.  Then, for consolation, out came the Jubilee and nine coaches - which somehow seem to ride much more successfully than those container flats - so the day provided some enjoyment after all.


We start with the Class 66 making an adjustment to the rake at Throstlebeck international container depot:






Then heading away down Bamboo Curtain Straight towards the coast






Powering across Foxdale Bank






and rattling the furniture in Foxdale Carr Hall






before crossing the Northern Viaduct



(really must add those fiddly hoses onto the front)



Having reached the port, the loco duly retraces its steps with another train of containers for Throstlebeck






and was last seen returning across Foxdale Bank, soon to be home:









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