The First New Zealand Built Locomotive – 1st December 1889

To coincide with the opening of New Zealand’s first railway – a line between Ferrymead and Christchurch city – the Canterbury Provincial Government also had railway workshops constructed at Addington in 1863. As our first locomotives were imported, these workshops carried out maintenance work on the engines, carriages and wagons.

As Canterbury’s railway industry grew, the Addington Railway Workshops developed into more than just a maintenance outfit; In 1870, the first railway wagon was constructed.
On 1st December 1889, the first locomotive (a w-class tank engine) was built; twenty six years to the day of the opening of the country’s first railway at Ferrymead.

In future builds, trends from America, Britain and Europe influenced our locomotive’s look and style.

By the 1920’s, Dunedin and Lower Hutt railway workshops were the only ones still building locomotives. Throughout the 1980’s and the 1990’s, the country’s railway workshops were closed down including Addington – now the site of the Tower Junction Shopping Centre.

The attached photo is of a U class 4-6-0 of which seven were built in Addington workshops, Christchurch, between 1894 and 1899.

*Image courtesy of Transpress NZ –

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