Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 46, September 2002
By J A T Terry
On opening of the railway extension to Paeroa on 20 December 1895 there was a coal store, water service and an engine shed although the latter two were incomplete at the time.
This was single line two stall shed sited by the Puke Road crossing at the Thames end of the yard. However as no trains originated from Paeroa the shed was not required and it was not until November 1902 that an engine was stationed there, it being required to run a daily return service to Frankton.
With the alterations to the yard in 1905 the shed was moved a short distance westwards and in 1918 was lengthened 25 feet. With the opening of the new station on 31 August 1925 the shed was to be moved to the new locomotive depot sited at the north end of the yard. However it was not until the first week in December 1925 that the site was ready for it. Owing to the building having no floor the removal presented difficulties but with careful bracing of the structure it was placed on railway wagons and moved to its new site on 6 December. It was provided with a concrete floor.
In 1943 it was proposed to replace it with one 150 feet long spanning two lines. A sand drier and large store would be provided but the scheme did not go ahead. With the replacement of steam engines by diesels there was no need for an engine shed and in July 1964 instructions were given to pull it down and clear the site. This was done by railway staff in October of that year.
Although a standard coal shed was there on opening it does not appear to have been used. While the Working Timetable (1) in the _Accommodation at Stations_ section showed accommodation for coal the Timetable section showed only the letter _W_ against Paeroa, indicating that water was available, but the letter _C_ indicating coal was not shown. With a coal supply at Te Aroha and later at Thames when that section opened, the engines then in use would have carried sufficient coal to enable them to run between Te Aroha and Thames without coaling up. In February 1899 there was a proposal to shift the coal shed to Frankton but it did not proceed. The Working Timetable of 1 December 1900 was the last to list accommodation for coal at Paeroa and it is presumed the coal shed had been removed for use elsewhere. It was not until late 1905 that a coal supply was provided, a coal store being placed between the engine shed and the turntable. In 1908 it was considered greater storage capacity was needed and a coal bin, capable of holding 160 tons of coal and constructed of old railway sleepers, was placed on the opposite side of the line to the coal shed. The shed was moved to the new depot in 1925 and in 1930 converted into a driver's room.
With the coal supply being between the engine shed and the turntable it resulted in the last engine at the end of the day being required to push through any engine in the shed to enable coal to be taken on. To overcome this, in 1915 the coal bin was moved to the south of the engine shed. With the 1925 depot the coal bin provided was on a separate line from the engine shed. In 1930 the bin floor was paved. A pneumatic coaling crane was provided sometime in the 1920s and would remain until the end of steam.
No facilities were provided when the station opened as only tank engines of the F class were in use on the line. However in 1897 a 13 foot table was installed but was removed in 1899. It was capable of turning only F class engines as they had a short wheelbase of 10 foot 6 inches. With the introduction of tender engines to the line, in 1902 a 50 foot turntable was installed on a separate line to the west of the engine shed. In 1905 with the yard improvements the table was moved to a new position at the rear of the engine shed, engines now having to run through the shed to turn. An extra rail was added in 1918 lengthening the table to 52 feet. For the 1925 station a 55 foot table from Ranganui was provided on a separate line. With the impending introduction in 1939 of the J class engines, the 55 foot table would not be long enough to turn that class and it would be necessary to lengthen it to 62 feet, however this was not possible on its present site. Owing to the foundations sinking, repeated trouble was experienced when larger engines of the Aa and Ab class were running over it. Three proposals were considered:
1. Shifting the 55 foot table to a new site, lengthening it by 7 feet and driving piles under the centre foundation. This would cost £900.
2. Providing and installing a 70 foot table with piled foundations. Cost £3520.
3. Provide a triangle. This would involve the purchase of about ½ acre of land at a cost of £200. All over the total cost of a triangle would be £2010. That proposal was adopted in May 1939. It was built on land near the loco depot on the west side of the yard, the southern boundary being close to Vercoe's sale yards. Completed in late 1939, it would remain there until the early 1970s.
Water for the engines was obtained from the Ohinemuri County supply and delivered through a 1 ½ inch pipe to a 400 gallon square wooden tank at the loco depot. The water was supplied free of charge on account of the Council being permitted to take their water mains across the railway reserve. The extension of the line to Thames on 19 December 1898 resulted in increased traffic. The need for engines to proceed to the loco depot for water was causing train delays and the addition of a stand pipe at each end by the main line was advisable. This would be cheaper than building two water tanks as the water would be taken direct from the County mains by a 6 inch pipe. The existing tank at the loco depot would be dispensed with. The cost would be £125.
In October 1899 the District Engineer at Auckland sought Council approval for this move but no mention was made that the water would be obtained through a 6 inch pipe. Approval was given, the work proceeding. In addition and unbeknown to Council, the Department connected up some railway houses to the supply.
When the Council learnt of what had been done it was far from happy. The Department was informed that unless the water to the railway houses was paid for, supply would be cut off. In respect of the supply for engines, the sum of £25 per year would now be required. This resulted in a lengthy correspondence between the Council and Railway Department resulting in the Department paying for the supply to the houses and £25 per year for loco water, the latter until the line to Waihi opened. Council was to pay the Department £1 per year for the right to lay pipes on railway land.
With the opening of the line to Waihi on 9 November 1905 and an increase in traffic and the use of water for the engines, in March 1906 the Council, in terms of its agreement, requested a review. It wanted a rate of 1/- per 1000 gallons instead of a flat rate of £25 per year and that the supply be taken from tanks provided with a ball cock or other similar automatic arrangement. Again lengthy correspondence between the two parties. The issue was not settled until February 1907, the Department agreeing to pay 9 pence per 1000 gallons and to provide water tanks in place of the stand pipes which drew directly from the water mains. From then on the charge for water would be at a rate per 1000 gallons.
In place of the stand pipes railways provided a 4000 gallon tank by the main line at the north end and at the south end a 4000 gallon tank by the Waihi branch line with a stand pipe, fed from the tank, for the main line. A 2000 gallon tank was provided at the loco depot.
For the new 1925 station, at the loco depot a 4000 gallon tank with one of same size at the south end by the Waihi branch line. A stand pipe allowed engines to water from both the branch and main line. At the north end was a 6000 gallon circular vat by the main line with a stand pipe.
To improve the supply, in November 1941 it was suggested the 6000 gallon circular vat at Papatoetoe be shifted to Paeroa and placed alongside the 4000 gallon tank. Both tanks would be coupled, water to be delivered to engines by way of a double headed stand pipe. The work was approved in September 1942 and carried out.
By December 1952 the tank at the Waihi end was leaking badly and in need of replacement. It was proposed it be replaced by a pressed steel tank of 9000 gallons. However, with the likelihood of diesel engines taking over from steam, it was suggested the other tanks be maintained in serviceable order until they became unnecessary. It was removed in May 1958, the stand pipe having been removed in June 1957. In September 1958 the 6000 gallon vat at the north end was condemned and removed in January 1962 together with the 4000 gallon tank at loco. This left only the loco 6000 gallon vat and authority for its removal was given in November 1967, the water supply having been cut off in September 1967.
REFERENCES - FILES
District Engineer NZR Hamilton. Unnumbered, List of Assets
204/2 Paeroa sidings.
204/8 Paeroa water.
District Engineer NZR Auckland: 18436 Water.
General Manager NZR. 02/809 Water Services Paeroa. (NZ Railway & Locomotive Society, Ava)
Newspaper: Hauraki Plains Gazette 1905, 1906 and 1925.
(1) Working Timetable. A private document "for the Guidance and Exclusive use of Members of the Department". As well as having arrival and departure times of trains at stations it contained instructions on train running, accommodation at stations, etc.