Rare steam locomotive returns to Southland for restoration

The 1880 D Class locomotive D6 is lowered into position at Bulleid Engineering in Winton on Saturday. Photo: Supplied/ Southland District Council
The 1880 D Class locomotive D6 is lowered into position at Bulleid Engineering in Winton on Saturday. Photo: Supplied/ Southland District Council
A rare historic steam locomotive is being restored to its former glory and is back in Southland after more than a century away.

The D Class locomotive D6 was built in 1880 in Glasgow and spent much of its time running on Southland's tracks with New Zealand Railways.

But in 1917, the D6 was sold into private service, first to the Taratu Coal and Railway Company in the Clutha District and then to McDonalds Lime in 1940 where it was in action at its Ōamaru plant.

It moved a bit closer to home in 1965 after being acquired by Ocean Beach Railway, a working heritage railway museum operating in Dunedin.

The Lumsden Heritage Trust has now brought it back to enhance its heritage rail display in the northern Southland town.

Trust chairman John Titter said the locomotive was significant because there were very few left in New Zealand.

The 1880 D Class locomotive D6 arriving at Bulleid Engineering in Winton. Photo: Supplied/ Southland District Council
The 1880 D Class locomotive D6 arriving at Bulleid Engineering in Winton. Photo: Supplied/ Southland District Council

"According to the New Zealand Rolling Stock Register there are only seven other Class D locomotives left in New Zealand, of which only two have been restored to running order."

The trust had taken responsibility for the locomotive and applied for funding to restore it, he said.

In the weekend it arrived at Bulleid Engineering in Winton, where it is set to be restored before being taken to Lumsden.

The engineering company sits next to the former Winton railway track, which the locomotive used to operate on during its time with New Zealand Railways.

It has been an eventful two years for the Trust, which oversaw the recovery of two V Class locomotives and their coal tenders from the mud at Mararoa Junction near Lumsden just before the pandemic struck in early 2020.

Later that year, an A Class passenger car A199 was recovered from a farm at Wairio. It has since been refurbished and now sits in the Lumsden Railway Precinct to serve as an information kiosk for the trust's static display.

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