Blenheim Riverside Railway

By Ralph Heywood

The Blenheim Riverside Railway is located in sunny Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand. Experience a leisurely 60 minute, 11km train journey along the banks of the picturesque Taylor River from Brayshaw Park Station to Beaver Station located in Riverside Park and return. The Railway departs Brayshaw Park Station on the 1st & 3rd Sunday of every month at 1.45, 3.00 & 4.15pm, except June to August (winter) when there is no 4.15pm. From Dec 26th thru to mid Jan the railway operates a daily summer timetable at the above times. Special operating days are Waitangi Day (Heritage), Easter Sunday and Labour weekend Sunday. Private charters are a treat for birthday and anniversaries.

This award winning 2 foot (610 mm) gauge railway was established in 1985 by the Marlborough Historical Society and later transferred to the Blenheim Riverside Railway Society.

Track laying commenced in 1987. 1987 also saw the purchasing an A&G Price 6½ tonne loco, in a dilapidated state, from the Ohai coal mines in Southland. It is powered by a four cylinder Leyland “Comet” engine, and the loco refurbishment was completed 1989. New design air braked bogie carriages were constructed in 1989.
The 5½ tonne Ruston & Hornsby loco, “Murray”, powered by a three cylinder Lister engine was purchased in 1990 from Ashburton, having originated from the lime works in Milton. The loco restoration team led by the late Murray Guthrie, after whom the loco is now named.

Blenheim Riverside Railway officially opened on Labour Weekend of 1990. Brayshaw Park Station, a scale replica of the 1914 George Troup designed Picton Station was constructed in the mid 1990’s.

A replica George Troup railway windmill was completed in 1994 by a team lead by the late Cliff White.
The mid 1990’s saw the design and construction of a double ended bogie railcar by member Gary Coburn and team. The railcar is powered by a mid mounted Toyota diesel engine powering the inner axles of each bogie by a cardan shaft.

The railway has under restoration the ex-Puponga 0-4-0 steam loco called “Donald”. The design and manufacture of this locomotive is still under investigation.

The original second-hand timber sleepers were starting to deteriorate, so in 2001 founding member Lester Holdaway designed moulds and specifications, for the railway to make their own concrete sleepers.

The line from Fulton Station was extended in 2005, under the supervision of ex-NZR man George Walker, to the as yet to be named, Beaver Station in Riverside Park. Beaver Station was officially opened in a civic golden spike ceremony by Mayor Alistair Sowman, former mayor Leo McKendry, Lester Holdaway and George Walker on Saturday 22nd April 2006.