I am just about finished laying out the Picton yard. This will have to cease by the end of the week as I want to finish yard layouts and other maps for the Otago Central because maps have to be ready for something getting published soon.
We’re going to have a look at how Picton has developed over the years because it’s been changed a few times.
Here’s a fuzzy aerial photo from 1959. The lagoon was just about undisturbed then. The rail yard was where it originally was. There was a locomotive depot, and seaside there was just a single wharf with rail tracks running down it. Picton knew by then that the rail ferries were coming, but the ferry wharf and terminal had not been started.
A couple of posts back there was this shot of Picton, taken in 1969 (not 1967). As you can see above, in 1969 the lagoon had not been filled in at that stage. With the Aramoana and Aranui in operation there was a single ferry wharf with a single deck linkspan suitable for both road and rail vehicles, and it also had a side ramp for accessing an upper car garage that these two ships were fitted with. The rail tracks on the main shipping wharf were still being used and look to have a rake of freezer wagons on them, whether in conjunction with the nearby (but not rail connected) freezing works at Shakespeare Bay or another factory somewhere else. Picton was and still is a general service port for the region of Marlborough, although not really competitive with Nelson and mostly dominated these days by inter island ferries.
The next view we have is this one from 1974. By that stage the lagoon has been filled in and the land area is much the same as today. However the upper area is being used for general cargo such as logs. The port was undergoing an expansion at this time that was mainly geared around the commissioning of the third and fourth rail ferries, the freight-only Arahanga and Aratika as they then were. Arahanga entered service in 1972 and Aratika in 1974. The difference with these two ferries, purchased with a World Bank loan, was that they had an upper heavy vehicle deck, so a double deck linkspan was needed, with the access bridge to the upper level seen crossing over the railway yard. This bridge looked fairly new and the present connecting roads and vehicle storage for it were as yet incomplete. There also appeared to be works underway on the original linkspan, so it is possible only one ferry wharf was actually operable at the time.
The rail yard had been made much bigger as had storage for cars and vehicles. The major changes on the rail side of things were that the original goods shed had been removed. There was another shed visible along the station that had recently been built so it is possible the new goods shed was there. The locomotive depot area was seeing major changes in this period. Some of the old buildings had been demolished and a new turntable pit was being built a little north of the original turntable. Other changes included the removal of the stockyards near the main wharf and the construction of the cement works loading site that would have its own siding installed. The main wharf still had tracks onto it but already some of these had been disconnected.
This photo is from 1977. We can see the relocated turntable in operation along with both ferry wharves. The double deck linkspan is fully in use with the Aratika (which had the originally open upper vehicle deck closed in during its modification program in 1976) loading. Aratika was rebuilt from the freight-only configuration that it originally shared with Arahanga, due to the withdrawal of the Union Company’s overnight ferry service (Wahine, Maori and Rangatira during the 1960s and 1970s) between Wellington and Lyttelton, to provide replacement passenger capacity. So there were two berths, one for Aramoana and Aranui with just a lower linkspan for freight vehicles and some cars, and the double deck linkspan for Aratika and Arahanga; both berths had ramps for the side loading car garages.
Picton in 1983. The main difference here is the new locomotive depot under construction at top centre. This was not finished at the time this image was taken but the building had been erected and the turntable installed.
Last photo for today is Picton in 1984. The locomotive depot was in full use by then and the old buildings were being demolished. The ferry Arahanga with the open upper deck is either arriving or leaving, probably arriving as there is a line onto the wharf alongside, also there is a lot of rail freight stacked up waiting to load. Both Aramoana and Aranui had been withdrawn by this stage which left Arahanga, Aratika and the new Arahura in service.