|Morrinsville - Matamata section - Photo 2008 courtesy Chris Ball|
Engineers and surveyors were involved with what was then known as Railway and Tramway Survey and Construction in the Auckland Province, New Zealand during the years 1862 - 1908.
|Waihi Railway Station was opened in 1905 - Waihi Station in 2008 photo courtesy Chris Ball 2008|
- An incident with a member of a Survey Party being shot. Messrs Sheehan, Puckey, Thomson and Stewart called for and meetings to sort it out - an incident which occurred in a land survey camp impacting on the nearby proposed Thames Waikato Railway route.( Otago Witness 06/09/1879 )
- A meeting with local settlers over location of station and then terminus of railway - main trunk line at Te Awamutu.
- The “notorious bridge dispute " near Waharoa on the Morrinsville - Matamata section I Rotorua Railway with its final diplomatic outcome in the end of dinner speeches given by all parties. A mandate received to take the railway through to the Mamaku and on.( New Zealand Herald 17/08/1885)
|Prices first locomotive ordered 1883 for Piako County Tramway ( AKA Waiorongomai Tramway) Never used on this Tramway was sold to Smythe Bros timber contractors - drawing ASB|
|early locomotive foreground and Helensville Station background photo 2011 - photo courtesy Chris Ball|
On the Railway Route
- Night base was a tent or “blanket roll" in the bush.
- Early days of travel from Auckland Southwards and Eastwards was by steamer and horse.
- A short cut route was used from the Piako County Tramway ( AKA Wairongomai Tramway) near Te Aroha through to the foothills of the Mamaku, where the Rotorua Railway was being surveyed.
|Battery Remains near Waiorongomai near Mount Te Aroha 2009 - photo courtesy Chris Ball|
Life in a Survey Camp
- Railway Engineer Survey Teams were close-knit. Often lifelong work and friendship links were formed.
- Food and sleep after a day's work was essential. The terrain was often dense bush, swampy ground.
- Getting pegs and equipment ready for the next day's work. Writing up day diaries, drawing draft railway maps , checking the days curves and gradients
- Conversations, swapping professional ideas and keeping abreast of developments, chequers and chess.
- It is known that the Survey Camp was where the dreams of use of this new invention electricity were shared -electric power to run machinery and a town, electric tramways.
- There was often a cook preparing the meals for the surveyors.
This sketch is from one of the pen and ink drawings with which Mr. Brookes used to illustrate his letters to his parents in England. It is dated October 31, 1862, and shows the surveyors' camp in the bush between Mangawai and the site of Port Albert, the party to which Mr. Brookes was then attached being engaged in putting
The Terrain faced
Swamps –often in places a bottomless hole that sucked up the ballast ( the original main trunk section Ohaupo - Te Awamutu seemed to suck it up. Towns people could see the railway almost there and could not understand why the process was not quicker. They did not know that before the permanent way could be completed, the swamp holes Had to be filled and levelled in the formation.)
Rivers and Streams – finding the best and most economical route with consideration for flood, tidal and being able to build as few bridges & culverts as possible. As far as possible the product and resources of the area were utilised eg The stone near Rotorua township for culverts.
The Eastern Ranges - Spanning the Eastern Coasts of the Auckland Province, NZ ( Coromandel, Kaimai, Mamaku, Urewera) Finding the “best route “with the least difficult construction. problems were hard rock, narrow deep valleys and ravines. A suitable route through the Mamaku for the railway took months.
Looking toward the Mamaku Range photo 2010 - courtesy Chris Ball
Conditions experienced during construction
Snow and Storms -
Waiorongomai Tramway, Rotorua Railway
Thames, Waikato, Kaipara and Waihi. In 1907 there was flooding that impacted on many of the railway lines, causing widespread damage.
Tarawera Eruption -
The first NZ attempt to precisely measure earth deformation due to a specific geological event.
Karangahake Tunnel, Waihi Railway. Three railway construction workers lost their lives during this tunnel's construction.Entrance to railway tunnel Karangahake - now a cycleway on the Hauraki Rail Trail - photo 2012 courtesy Chris Ball