Little River Railway Station Trust members pictured with DSA 261. From left: Jody Tuckwell, Colin Higginbottom, Andrew Wilson and Robin McFarland

Engine finds new home

by Mike Isle

It is not every day that a man goes on Trade Me to buy a train, but that is exactly what West Melton resident Andrew Wilson did, and he succeeded.

The self-confessed train buff and Little River Railway Station trustee said he has a passion for trains since childhood. There is nothing unusual in that — most children go through at least a phase, but few actually wind up buying a train.

Andrew got his chance when he was on the hunt for a train to grace the much-revered and historic Little River railway station. What he found, on Trade Me, was Dsa 261.

DSA 261 was built in Leeds by Hunslet Engine Company in Leeds England but spent its entire working life in the South Island as a heaving shunting locomotive, used in the making and breaking down of freight trains.

It was something of a workhorse, Andrew said, noting that it entered service in 1957 and was still hard at it until retirement in 1985.

The train didn’t arrive in Little River under its own steam. Perhaps somewhat ignominiously for the old ‘workhorse’, it was transported from its then Dunedin home to Little River by road.

In fact, it is unlikely to be going anywhere on or off the rails soon.

The trust’s intent for the venerable train, Andre explains, is to leave it as a static display.

“We have started on restoration, and we are a small group with limited resources but offers are coming in to assist and advise us on how to do it, when we are delighted to accept.

“For the moment, however, we are content to use Dsa 261 as a further attraction at the [Little River] station, to climb aboard and have photos taken.

“We hope people can come and create or relive memories at our beautiful location,” Andrew said.

The Little River railway station and Dsa 261 are open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm. Anyone wanting to help with the restoration or funding can email the trust at lrrst1886@gmail.com.