Rail enthusiasts on track

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Cyril Hedgcock with a rail lamp.

By John Keast

Remember the names: Urral, Sherwood, Hackthorne.

There many more.

They are – or were – railway stations and stops in the Ashburton district.

Photographs of many of them are in a small upstairs room at the Plains Museum, Tinwald.

More are sought.

The room is slowly but surely being tidied up as a display area.

A stairway near the room, thanks to retired builder Dave “Dinger” Bell, has been turned into a “tunnel” with a curved ceiling and effect lighting.

It is hoped to extend the display from the room, down the stairway, to an area below.

That is where the public can help.

Mr Bell and fellow volunteer Cyril Hedgcock are seeking old rail photographs or any rail memorabilia to flesh out the display.

That might be anything from Railways cups to signs to photographs – anything connected with rail in Mid Canterbury.

Mr Bell is familiar with many of the stations, and not just by photograph.

His father drove trains, including the last train to Mt Somers, and he recalls being picked up at the Tinwald and other stations.

The display room also has cabinets passed on from the old Ashburton Museum, and these will be used to display items already held.

The photographs show stations big and small.

Cavendish, for instance (between Anama and Mt Somers) was just a shed.

That was all there was, too, at Urral, and Cairnbrae and Sherwood.

“Anything from the Mt Somers or Methven lines would be good,” Mr Bell said.

Items could be dropped at the museum in Tinwald.