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Baldwin Loco Works official photo, Wb 297, 1898

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Wb 298 hits landslip

The following report was published in the Evening Post on 28 August 1899, describing the derailment of Wb 298 near Pakuratahi tunnel, north of Upper Hutt. The locomotive suffered moderate damage, the front cowcatcher of Baldwin design (vertical steel rods) subsequentially replaced by a NZR-design plate cowcatcher. This was a distinguishing feature of the locomotive thereafter.


The heavy rain of Friday night and Saturday morning was primarily the cause of an accident on the railway line between the Upper Hutt and the Summit on Saturday night. The result was that an engine and a truck were derailed, a fireman was slightly injured, and passengers to and from Wellington were several hours late in arriving at their destinations. A slip occurred about two chains from the mouth of the Pakuratahi tunnel on the Upper Hutt side, just before the afternoon train from Wellington to Masterton reached the spot; but, owing to the darkness, the obstruction was not observed until too late to prevent the engine from running into it. Amongst the debris was a large piece of rock, which got under the locomotive. The engine was forced over on its side, and fell off the line, but fortunately it did not go far enough to fall into the creek below. A truck was also derailed. The officials at the Summit were appraised of the occurrence, and decided to send the express train from Napier, which was then at the Summit, to the scene of the mishap, in order to take the passengers from Wellington on to the Wairarapa. The engine that had brought that train up the hill from the Wairarapa is not suitable for heavy work on the Wellington side of the Incline, and as steam had to be got up in a spare locomotive at the Summit, it was three hours after the accident before the Napier-Masterton train left the top of the hill to go down to the landslip. The passengers for the Wairarapa transhipped to the relief train, which reached Masterton between 1 and 2 o'clock yesterday morning. An engine was sent from the Upper Hutt, an brought to town the train, the locomotive of which had become derailed, and also the passengers from Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa, and did not reach the Wellington station until 1.20 a.m.

The driver and fireman of the derailed engine had a very narrow escape. Both stuck to the locomotive when it rolled over, and had to crawl out of the cab. The driver (Clark Allan) escaped with a shaking, but the fireman (Alfred Jones) had one of his legs bruised and cut.

An unsuccessful attempt was made yesterday to replace the engine on the rails. In order that the traffic to-day should not be interrupted, a loop line has been constructed round the slip, and the trains are able to run past the obstruction without being delayed.

The arrival of this morning's through train from the Wairarapa was delayed for nearly an hour by a mishap to the Fell engine when climbing the hill from Cross's Creek to the Summit. Another engine was sent from the Summit, and the train was brought on without any unnecessary delay.