Kieth Robson's Baldwin 2-6-2

Keith Robson has recently completed his fine model of a Baldwin 2-6-2.  Keith admits this was an ambitious undertaking, especially when he started in 1988.  As a result it sat in the “too hard” bin for a while.  The model is Keith’s own effort with details taken from photos and some drawings obtained from NZR archives.  This model won the Moody Cup for Best Overall Model and the Curry Cup for Best Workmanship in Any Model in the CSMEE 2011 Awards.

The model is 5in gauge.  The model is mostly fabricated but wheel castings were done by Win Holdaway in Blenheim.  While the original loco was a compound, the model has four HP cylinders arranged to look like compounds.  The cylinders have Cast Iron liners and stainless steel pistons with PTFE rings.  The piston valve are also PTFE.  The model also features compensated springing on all axles.  Three water feed systems are used – axle driven pump, injector and a hand pump in the tender.

Some history of the little known Wellington - Manawatu Railway Co is interesting (thanks to Wikipedia where further information can be obtained).

By 1879 the government had built the Foxton Branch railway linking Palmerston North and Foxton, and had completed surveys of lines down the west coast to Wellington. Construction of the line was approved, final details of the survey were completed and the first workers for the construction of the line were hired. A short section of the line, from Wellington to Wadestown, was partially constructed. However, the government of the day was defeated at the September 1879 general election. The new government had the line removed from the Public Works Estimates and created a Royal Commission to review the government's public works programme with a view to reducing government expenditure (some things never change). The Commission reviewed the Wellington-Manawatu line in March 1880 and concluded that work should be abandoned!

Backed by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, a group of prominent Wellington businessmen decided in February 1881 to form the Wellington - Manawatu Railway Co (WMR).  Maori land owners in the Manawatu exchanged land along the proposed route for shares in the company. In May 1881 the company signed a contract with the government to purchase the land, formation and materials used for building the line so far. In August 1881 the Railways Construction and Land Act was passed, allowing joint-stock companies to build and run private railways, as long as they were built to the government's standard rail gauge of 3' 6" and connected with the government railway lines. The Act had the effect of authorising the WMR's operations.

Construction of the line recommenced on 25 September 1882 and was completed on 27 October 1886, with the first through train running on 3 November.

The WMR line ran for about 134 kilometers. From the Thorndon terminus it wound up through the hills to Johnsonville, now the Johnsonville Branch. It then proceeded to Tawa, roughly along the line of the State Highway 1 motorway. From Tawa to Longburn the North Island Main Trunk line generally follows its route. A number of new towns were established along the route, notably Plimmerton, named after company director and "Father of Wellington" John Plimmer, and Levin, named after William Hort Levin, a director of the company.

The WMR operated 22 locomotives including two Baldwin compounds (No 5 and No 8) purchased in 1901 from the Baldwin works in Philadelphia. 20 locomotives were ultimately acquired by the government. The WMR classified its locomotives by number without class distinction; if a locomotive was withdrawn its number was re-used on a new locomotive.

The WMR was relatively successful, and generated considerable revenue. Its land holdings proved to be a major revenue stream for the company.  As sections of the line opened, the land value around it increased and thus the WMR profited from its own operations.

The railway's operations were advanced by standards of the time, having comfortable carriages, dining cars, electric lighting, and telephone communication between stations. In comparison, the government-operated network did not introduce dining cars until 1902.

The WMR was bought by the government in 1908 and integrated into the New Zealand Railways Department from Monday 7 December 1908.