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Since the 1860s the phenomenon of the railway has dominated the attention of the public in New Zealand. In the nineteenth century there was no other form of land transport except horses, and horse-drawn carts and stage-coaches and every small settlement wanted a railway as a link to the outside world. Later as the network grew the railway was the prime...
Since the 1860s the phenomenon of the railway has dominated the attention of the public in New Zealand. In the nineteenth century there was no other form of land transport except horses, and horse-drawn carts and stage-coaches and every small settlement wanted a railway as a link to the outside world. Later as the network grew the railway was the prime means of getting from place to place. In later years as the network has been pruned and much equipment and infrastructure removed, a dedicated band of enthusiasts nostalgic about the old days has developed, the ranks of which quickly grew when steam was in its dying days. The authors, Geoffrey Churchman and Tony Hurst, tell the story of the development of the railways of New Zealand from when a small crowd at Christchurch farewelled a broad gauge steam locomotive with 4-wheel passenger cars to Ferrymead, 7 km away, in 1863, to today’s hi-tech freight operations on 3900 km of track. Documented are the broad vision and narrow-mindedness of politicians, the trials and tribulations of different locomotive classes, the engineering brilliance that overcame many natural obstacles, the dogged perseverance of those responsible for the planning and building of 5,700 km of railway lines throughout New Zealand since 1863, the changing role of the railways in the twentieth century and the new era of private ownership and control. Illustrated with over 300 photographs, more than half of which are in full color, this book recalls to life the changing face of the railways over 140 years. The good old days of steam receive rightful coverage, but the contribution of modern motive power is not neglected. This stunning tribute to the transport form that has done so much to shape the nation’s history should be on the bookshelf of everyone interested in New Zealand.
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