No, this is not some warped gardening segment.... I promise.
No, this an attempt at a brief and potted history of some of the locos that have spent time working for what is / was Farmers Fertiliser in New Plymouth and where they have ended up.
I have always had a strong interest in the little locos of this world, and naturally I could not resist getting photos of little locos in such a raw industrial setting as the ones outlined in this post.
Of course, working in such a harsh environment all day everyday pretty much dooms any and every loco that is sent to work in the pit, and over time several locos have come and gone from the fertiliser sidings at Smart Road.
And below are photos of the locos that I have known to work the sidings over the years. There may have been others.....
The oldest of the locos known to me was this dieselised steamer first built by Dubs & Co #1164 of 1878. Apparently this loco was D class #50 with the NZR before going to the Kauri Timber Co, and then on to Challenge Phosphate, Otahuhu being based at the fetiliser sidings in Otahuhu. Somewhere along the lines it was dieslised with a chain drive and all.
The photo above shows the loco stuffed and mounted at Stratford's "Pioneer Village" in the 80's after it was retired from service with Farmers Fert. New Plymouth. It sat in this very location for many years until it was relocated to the front of the village along the roadside on a concrete plinth.
The loco was repainted and there it stayed for some time more until the village people (.... YMCA.... woot... ) deemed the loco to be too rusty and a hazard to people and childeren who play on it. Branded an eyesore and a hazard the local earth moving contractor was tasked with its removal, and it was trucked not far away to his compound.
During 2004 the poor loco sat plonked at the gate to the earth contractors compound like some giant red gargoyle. I visited the new owner of the loco and asked what his intentions were with the loco. He said he was keeping it as a conversation piece for the time being, but if I was interested in the loco I could have it, but I would have to pay the going rate for it to be moved anywhere... Sadly none of the local groups were interested in the loco and I did not have the cashflow to bankroll its relocation.
Recent searches for the earth contractor and the loco have reveled nothing, other than they have both gone. I fear the loco was scrapped as a loco wheelset matching the ones seen on the loco can be seen from the Stratford yard amongst a large pile of machinery that has slowly been growing in a compound bordering the yard.
Next on the list is Price built #220, a cheeky wee chain driven number, and twin sister to the little red Price that served Lactose at the end of the Kapuni branch.
I had the pleasure of seeing this wee beastie working in the confines of the plant one day, the growl of the motor and the protests of urea crusted drive line deprived of grease suffering from years of acidic coatings certainly compounded the thought that this loco's days were numbered.....
And sure enough it wasnt long before the Price was put out to Pasture. The surprise came when it rolled into town one day atop a well wagon, sans engine and onther usefull bits. It turns out that the Price had been purchased by Nigle Ogle of Tawhiti Museum fame and was bound for his museum. The loco sat for many moons on an old siding in the Hawera Yard before being trucked out to the Museum.
Sadly, this loco didnt quite fit with the museums plans, and to this day still sits in the same spot it did the day it arrived there, out of sight and out of mind. I am not wure what plans there are for this loco (if any) but I dont think anything will happen for some time yet.
The other "old timer" was this larger Drewry built machine #2507 of 1954. Originally from the Northland Fertiliser Co, Whangarei, heavier and a with more power, this loco was capable of shifting a loaded 70 ton CF wagon without too much drama, which the smaller Price loco could not. With the outlawing of 4 wheeled wagons, and fertiliser coming and going in CF bogie wagons, bigger more powerful locos were needed. I am not sure where the Drewry came from but I am led to beileve it spent quite some time working at the plant.
Somewhere I have a photo of the Price and the Drewry side by side in the shadows - but I think I will have to find the negative and re scan it.
The Drewry was shown the door in the early 2000's having been replaced by an ex NZR DSA, and was purchased by the ill-fated Hooterville railway group who called the end of the Waitara branch their home. The loco ended up in Waiatara and was reduced to a million bits (as so many well meaning railway projects start out) but stopped abruptly when the Hootervile group imploded and ceased to exist.
Photographed below stored on a wagon in graphic dismemberment, I am led to believe this loco has since found solace and refuge further up the line with the Waitara Railway Preservation Society, and is in the process of being put back together again - humpty dumpty style.
Next in line is Bagnall 3079 of 1956, known for most of its life as NZR's DSA 414.
Retired from the NZR this loco was sold (or maybe leased) to the Kiwi Dairy Company for use at its Whareroa plant....
... before being sold to Farmers Fertiliser as their main shunting loco. This loco spent a long time "as delievered" pushing wagons around the fertiliser plant.
It wasnt long before the reasonably straight and tidy condition of the DSA started to suffer at the hands of carefree employees and began to be degraded by the chemicals and other nasties floating around....
Some time around late 2003, the DSA was repainted in a TranzRail inspired black and yellow, which made it look quite sharp (IMHO), but it wasnt very long until the old girl suffered the same fate as the rest of fleet, and soon became a stop block ornament....
I am pleased to say that this loco has too found sanctuary on the Waitara branch, and as at time of writing is actively having restoration work done on it....
2257 in happier times at Smart Road.
The last loco in this long tale of woe is none other than DSC 2557. Built in 1963 and served its creator for near on 40 years before being sold to Ravensdown.
Having driven this loco "in service" at Whareroa, I am not surprised it was sold - poor ol 2257 was a DOG of a loco. It was the regions "loaner" and we always hated having it at Whareroa.
Knowing the state of this loco in Tranz Rails care, I am equally not surprised it didnt last long working for Ravensdown. Breathing in and being bathed in urea all day every day had a deadly effect on this loco in quick time. One day it gave up, was dragged up to Smart Road yard and there it has sat ever since.
Ravensdown hired another DSC from the railways to replace 2257, but noone gave much thought to getting it back for regular servicing and all reports suggest the railways had a fit at the state their hired DSC had been returned to them in.... These days DSC's are still loaned to Ravensdown (or whoever they are these days) but they are rotated out a lot more regularly now!
2257 as she sits today.
As usual I have further photos of 2257, both at work in the siding and when it was seconded to work the fertilisier siding at Aramaho in Wanganui before coming to New Plymouth, but they are lost in the depths of the archives somewhere....