Featherston Memories

This is an edited version of a message that was posted to a mailing list in 2002. It was written by a retired driver who began his railway career in the 1950s.

Featherston Memories

Hi everyone, Featherston used to be a very busy station, it had a Tr loco stationed there. Its main function seemed to be used to shunt the goods shed & delivery sidings.

The station was laid out much as it is now with a few differences....there was a switch locked siding on the main line not far north of the platform where the siding went to the left under the gum trees. This was mainly used to load ballast that was obtained from the nearby river at Tauherinikau.

There were 3 local control panels that were locked/unlocked by the control panel in the station building. One panel was at the north end giving entry off the loop to the sidings via a switch lock; the second was about opposite the goods shed giving entry off the loop to the third road; the third was at the south end (along with an arrow indicator by the loop departure signal) giving entry from the loop to the yard roads & the south backshunt.

The intermediate 2 unit stop & proceed signals at each end, the 2 unit home signals at each end, the departure signals at the south end, & the starting signals at the north end were all of the "searchlight" type.

In the area where the car parts is now (plus the snarling pooches) is roughly where the sheep & cattle yards were with their loading/unloading ramps. A heck of a lot of animals used to be despatched into wagons from Featherston for their last ride to the freezing works. Sheep mainly went to the Gear sidings at Petone, cattle mainly went to the Wellington Meat Export sidings at Ngauranga, although there were exceptions to this rule.

During the live stock season, train no's 823 & 825 (2 Dg's each) used to be a full load of stock over the hill through the rat hole for 5 days a week. On top of that there were weekend specials for stock & a special shunting service (De hauled) used to run from Wellington to Carterton to pick up stock as well. Train no's 852 & 854 used to take huge rakes of empty J/Jc, H/Hc wagons for delivery to Featherston, Carterton, Waingawa, etc.

My wife used to ask me when I was coming home from work...I used to tell her to pack me a sugar bag full of tucker because I didn't know when I would be back...during the stock season that is. At the south end of the goods shed & alongside the eastern side were 2 roads that were used as delivery sidings where the locals unloaded their tonnage. These roads always seemed to have wagons being worked on, even at night.

I remember the old station well, the late Harry Leslie was a Shift Clerk there, he used to sell train & bus tickets, operate the signalling panel, tablet machines, dispatch trains, do his paper work & make us at home with a cup of tea when we were parked up in the siding for hours at a time sometimes.

Featherston south to Rimutaka Loop, Maymorn & Upper Hutt was operated by CTC being controlled by the Upper Hutt panel. Any time Featherston required a departure signal to be placed at proceed, they had to apply to Upper Hutt so they (Featherston) could operate their signal lever at the main or local control panel to get the signal. The starting signals were directly controlled by Featherston panel or by the local control panel for shunting.

Featherston had a unique trap points set up, being about half way along the third road, these being operated in conjunction with the middle local control panel. I can't remember the exact details now.

Last Updated: Sun Feb 11 13:00:07 NZDT 2007

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