March 22nd 2006 - Arrival of Carriage A1617.

On March 22nd 2006 the CRS had a new addition to its collection of special rolling stock. A 1617 is a special carriage, it is a bowed end 47.5 ft long carriage built at Addington workshops in 1926/27 for the tour of the Duke and Duchess of York in 1927.

By 1927 most of the existing Special Carriages had become outmoded, so it was decided to build new coaches for the tour of the Duke & Duchess of York (later King George VI & Queen Elizabeth).
Loading gauge limitations in the South Island demanded a compact vehicle for the purpose, and as the royal couple were not required to sleep overnight on the train, the design did not need to include a stateroom. A vehicle with a total length of 47.5 feet and a maximum width of 7 foot 10 inches resulted, with a quite revolutionary appearance (for New Zealand carriages.)
The exterior of the carriage was steel paneled, with a rounded “chariot” end containing large observation windows. The main entrances on each side were offset from each other, and led directly into the lounge area. Larger than normal windows were fitted complete with coloured “lead-light” top lights. The lounge (15foot 8 inches by 6 foot 10 inches wide) accommodated a chesterfield, and four lounge chairs. At the leading end was a dining table with five chairs. A corridor lead off the lounge along one side of the carriage to access two bedrooms, each containing two bunks, a bathroom, and a kitchen. The kitchen was capable of cooking for 12 persons.
The interior of the carriage was panelled with polished mahogany, and all metal fittings were of oxidized silver. Electrical equipment included fans and cigar lighters. At the conclusion of the Royal Tour, the carriage was set aside for the use of Members of Parliament.
It 1953/54 it was used as a support vehicle on the South Island Royal Tour Train of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. After 26 years of service the only improvements made were to fit new carpets (taken out of Vice Regal car A1825) and some additional electric fitments. The bogies were also upgraded to Timken 25330 roller bearing type.
A1617 and A1655 (the General Managers Carriage) were both written of in 1958, and were to have been put up for tender for sale, however by the early 1960’s it was decided that they would become the property of the NZR Welfare Society, and be placed at Arthurs Pass to be used as holiday cottages for railway employees. They both remained here in a corner of the railway yards until 1992, when they were both disposed of.
Since that time A1617 has been moved about several times. Initially it was placed on the platform at Moana station as part of a short-lived tourism venture, before being moved up to an empty section overlooking the lake. The next move was to a block of land north of the Moana township. By this time the weather conditions experienced in the area were taking a toll on the exterior of the carriage.
In 2003 A1617 was purchased by a Dunedin based businesswoman, Cushla Martini, who had the carriage trucked to Dunedin, where it was intended to rebuild the carriage as part of a tourist train venture. Work was started, but had not progressed very far before Ms Martini was diagnosed with cancer . She died in 2005. Ms Martini’s husband decided that the carriage should go to good home in one of New Zealands heritage railways, the final decision being for it to be given to the Canterbury Railway Society, operators of the Ferrymead Railway, and the National Railway Museum of New Zealand.

Photos of the arrival

The arrival by truck of carriage A 1617, the first vehicle is carrying the carriage, the second smaller truck is carrying the bogies the third vehicle belongs to CRS member Colin Dash who met the convoy on the outskits of the city and piloted both vehicles through to Ferrymead.

The Titan 100 tonne crane bought in to lift the carriage and bogies onto the track.

The bogies have been taken off the truck and placed in position on the track so the carriage can be lowered on to them.

The carriage has been lifted high enough to drive the truck out from underneath and is beginning to be rotated around and placed on the bogies.

A 1617 lowered back on its bogies and being checked for position before removing the strops. Heavy wooden bracing inside and tape on the windows helps this carriage arrive safely in one piece.

Carriage A 1617 at Ferrymead for the first time being moved into storage by diesel shunter Tr22 where it will be put under cover until it is time for restoration.

For more on this special carriage, there will be a album opening in the gallery in time.

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