TANIA McCAULEY experiences train travel in style as the age of steam returns to Hawke’s Bay for Art Deco Weekend.
Heads spin when Bay goes loco at weekend
There is something about the sound and smell of a steam train that makes people look and wave madly.
It still has great pulling power, going on the number of motorists who drove slowly along the roadside between Awatoto and Napier on Saturday morning, gawping pedestrians and motorists who hung out their car windows at crossings, and residents who stood in their rail-side backyards with beaming smiles.
Without a regular rail service, Hawke’s Bay people only get this one chance a year to treat themselves to train travel
During this Brebner Print Art Deco Weekend, JA 1271 did three runs while it was based in Napier.
Saturday’s Huff n’ Puff to Hastings and Sunday’s Sojourn to Waikoau, north of Napier, both sold out.
Fashionable cloche hats, boaters and other Art Deco finery were worn by perhaps half the 400 people on the Huff n’ Puff trip, and I was one of them.
I found that trying to step gracefully aboard a carriage whose floor is at my eye level, while clutching a handbag, parasol and camera and wearing heels, is impossible.
It’s a good thing Paekakariki-based Steam Incorporated, which owns the loco, has a host on every carriage to lend a helping hand.
Thirty mad-keen Steam Inc volunteers were here for the weekend, sharing shifts and jobs as hosts, fleet crew, buffet car and souvenir staff on the loco, steam-qualified Toll Rail employees filling in as drivers and firemen on every run.
Lovingly restored to working order in 1997, the loco was one of the last to be built at the New Zealand Government Railways workshop in Dunedin in 1956.
The air positively hummed as 400 men, women and children shouted above the clickety-clack of the nine carriages, the oldest built in 1908, on the fast run to Hastings.
The train stopped for a short time at Hastings, many of the passengers relishing the opportunity to take photographs, before reversing back to Napier, a necessity because the Hastings station lacked a turntable.
The somewhat more sedate pace of 25 km/h made standing on a carriage balcony for the return journey a little less of a bone-shaking experience – not to mention perfect for waving at trainspotters.
This loco can burn a tonne of coal every 100km.
It might not have burned that much on the Huff n’ Puff, but quite a few passengers would have disembarked at the end of the two-hour trip with sooty smudges in a few places.
This was one blast from the past that was well worth it.
Photo captions –
DEAD CHUFFED: Hawke’s Bay Today reporter Tania McCauley rode the Hastings Huff n’ Puff steam train at Art Deco Weekend.
HBTODAY PICTURE: JENZ DAVIDSON
STEAM AGE BACK: The Hastings Huff n’ Puff steam train.
HBTODAY PICTURE: TANIA McCAULEY
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