K Class Facts and Fiqures
Of the 8 'K' locomotives to come to New Zealand all, except two, served in the South Island or Middle Island, as it was then known. K93 and K96 were sent to the North Island a short time after their arrival. There they became well known as the "Shooting Galleries".
All the 'K' class engines landed in the Port of Lyttelton within 11 months of each other.
A total of 5 "K's" were dumped at Branxholme, near Invercargill. 1 "K", "K 87" was dumped on the Midland line near Arthurs Pass, 2 other "K's", "K 93" and "K 96" were discarded in the North Island during the 1920s.
The "K's" established a name for themselves by proving capable of surprisingly high speeds with light trains. When K88 traveled from Christchurch to Dunedin on her inaugural run on the 6th September 1878, she exceeded 53 mph, touching on 55 mph several times.
To realize how fast this new locomotive could haul a train, you must know that at this time most of the South Island main line was laid with iron rails weighing only 40 lb. per yard, and that the schedule of nearly 11 hours to cover the 230 miles meant that it was unnecessary to travel at any greater speed than about 30-35 mph.
As time went on people wanted to move faster, so finally the day came when the railway track was upgraded to suit and the "K's" were superseded by bigger and heavier locomotives.
Now, in the days when the Rogers "K's" ruled the iron way, there was still many other kinds of locomotives doing the work.
The old NZR. classed their engines into two category's.
These were for Passenger (Express) traffic, and for Goods traffic. In 1878 the "K's" became the Passenger class locomotive and when the "T" class 2-8-0 built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia arrived in 1879, they became the Goods, or freight locomotives.
Credit for bringing the "T" class into New Zealand belongs to Allison D. Smith; the man who introduced the Rogers "K" class to New Zealand.
When the "K's" were replaced by the ill fated "V's" built by Nasmyth, Wilson and Company, Manchester, the Baldwin "T's" were replaced by the "P" class, also built by Nasmyth, Wilson and Company.
The "V" & "P" class loco-motives were built in England and proved to be a total disaster. When the first "V" was completed in 1884 it was found to weigh 5« tons in excess of the specified weight.
The New Zealand Government would not accept any of the locomotives until their weight was reduced to within the limits laid down. The result of this was that the New Zealand Railways introduced the Baldwin built "N" class 2-6-2 in 1885 to replace the unlucky "V" class 2-6-2 loco-motives, and they introduced the "O" class 2-8-0 built by Baldwin in 1885 to replace the "P" class 2-8-0 which had been ordered in 1883, but had not arrived until 1887, (a 4 year delay.)
The sequel to all this is that these little Yankee "K's" - our legacy of years gone by, were perfectly capable of running to a strict timetable, and doing really hard work, even though it was said that K88 looked like a clock with its workings on the outside, and she may have lacked the precision finish of her British counterparts
K87 Rogers 2455/77 (Lincoln)
Arrived in the Port of Lyttelton with K88, on the Auguste Friedrich, on the 6th February 1878. Being put into service on the 9th March 1878, it was credited with being the first K to do active service. On the 15th March 1878 "Lincoln" was sent down to Ashburton to bring Sir George Grey the Governor of the colony up to Christchurch. Written off in May 1922.
Today those early days of glory are over - perhaps forever - because now she lies forgotten beneath the railway embankment in the Arthurs Pass. Served the NZGR for 44 years.
Arrived in the Port of Lyttelton abroad the Auguste Friedrich with K87 on 6th February 1878, and went into service almost 6 weeks later, on the 18th March 1878. after being assembled at Lyttelton.
Pulled the first through passenger express from Christ-church to Dunedin in 1878. Moved to Southland around 1900. Its class began the now historic Kingston Flyer service in 1902. Was reboilered in 1903 with a brand new Belpaire boiler to replace the older Wagon top type boiler; as were all the Rogers 'K' class around this date.
Written off November 1926. Sat in Rotten Row at Invercargill, for about eight months until dumped on the 5th June 1927 at Branxholme. Retrieved during 1974 after being deep in the Oreti River for 47 years. Destined to become a famous engine. Served the NZGR for 48 years.
Went into service on the 16th December 1878. That was nine months after K88 went into service. Ran throughout the South Island, mainly south of Christ-church during most of its life, but ended her days in Southland like most of the other 'K's.
Was written off in June 1927 and dumped in the Oreti River at Mararoa Junction, in northern Southland. Retrieved in 1985 by the Fiordland Vintage Machinery Club in Te Anau, and restored by members of that society over a period of years. After being stored in the Taieri Gorge Railways Dunedin workshops free of charge for about 3 years, whilst restoration continued, it was decided that K92 should go to a new home if one were to be found.
At last someone turned up. Mr. Colin Smith, a delightful gentleman, an expert in vintage aircraft restoration work, and Manager of the Croydon Aircraft Company. Colin Smith decided to do something. The Waimea Plains Railway Administration Board was set up, thus K92 was given a new lease of life at Mandeville just to the west of Gore where Colin has his aircraft factory. Incidentally, or perhaps not incidentally Mandeville is one of the stations where K92, K88 and all, (bar the two North Island K's), used to pass through in bygone times. Mandeville is on the old Gore to Lumsden route and Colin Smith plans to one day replace the Mandeville railway yard and adjacent buildings, making it all look much as it did 120 years ago when K92 use to trundle through. Served NZGR for 49 years.
Went into service 16th December 1878. Transferred to the North Island 1897. Written off at Auckland in May 1922. The boiler off K93 was dumped at Paekakariki. Served NZGR for 44 years.
Went into service 16th December 1878. Ran on South Island lines only. Written off in November 1926. Cast into the Oreti River at Branxholme on the 5th June 1927 with K88 and about fourteen various other locomotives.
Retrieved during March 1986. Today she rests unrestored at the Plains Museum, Tinwald. Served NZGR for 48 years.
Went into service on the 14th November 1878. Was written off in June 1927, and dumped at Branxholme. This locomotive was unearthed and parts salvaged as spares for K88 in December 1998. Served NZGR for 49 years.
Went into service on the 19th November 1878. Went to the North Island in the late 1880s, and written off in May 1922 at Auckland. One frame and wheels suspected to be from either K93 or K96 were discarded around 1928, but subsequently lifted in 1930-34 and sent to Japan for scrap. Served NZGR for 44 years.
Came into service on the 2nd November 1878. Was used only in the South Island and finished up in Southland. Was written off at Invercargill November 1926.
Dumped at Branxholme on the 5th June 1927, and is still there today, although only the bar frame and wheels are discernible. No boiler attached. Served NZGR for 49 years.
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Last Updated: Wednesday, 05 April, 2017