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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)

An Early Railway Hero. — A “Tim Troy” Story

An Early Railway Hero.
A “Tim Troy” Story.

Ever suffer from that depressing complaint known as “the blues?” But, of course, you do. It gets us all now and again. You know the symptoms? You feel as cheap as fourpence ha-penny; can't rouse yourself or take an interest in anything. Everything seems to go dead wrong, and the game of life not worth the candle! Now when you feel like that it is time to see what tobacco can do for you. A quiet smoke has been known to work wonders. There's much virtue in ‘baccy. Fill up with a bit of something really choice—it must be good if it's to do you good. And, come to that, there's nothing choicer than “toasted”: the real toasted mind, not some rotten imitation. Buy any of the following and you'll get the genuine article: Cut Plug No. 10 (Bullshead), Cavendish, Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Riverhead Gold and Desert Gold. They all contain “the cheer germ.” Under their beneficient influence sorrow is softened, black care flies away. As gloom-dispellers, they're worth a guinea an ounce!*

Fifty-one years ago there was trouble on the Wangaehu bank, one of those steep grades near Wanganui which the recent decision to straighten the line in that locality will eliminate.

But fifty-one years ago the grade was as steep as it is to-day and the locomotives available were not comparable with the “K's” and “Ab's” to which the modern train traveller on the New Zealand Railways is accustomed.

Railway Head Office records have an entry “Accident to train on Wangaehu Grade—20th June, 1885,” but the papers relative thereto have long since faded into oblivion. One man, however, Mr Tim Troy, of the Commercial Hotel at Woodville, has good cause to recollect vividly what took place on that occasion.

The date and the place coincide with one of Tim's most dramatic reminiscences, for he tells of how in his youth he stopped a runaway train on the Wangaehu Hill near Wanganui and collected £100 and a promise of a job on the railways for life from the Premier, John Ballance.

(W. W. Stewart Collection). The Auckland-Wellington Express at Frankton Junction, North Island, New Zealand.

(W. W. Stewart Collection).
The Auckland-Wellington Express at Frankton Junction, North Island, New Zealand.

“On the steep grade,” said Tim, “the train ran out of sand, which is used to lend grip to the rails, and the engine-driver, fireman and guard all left their positions to replenish the supply.”

The picture of these three anxious trainmen, digging into the bank alongside the line to provide sand for the greasy rails and slipping wheels while the train snorted slowly and unsteadily upward, must be contrasted with their look of amazement when the train suddenly started to run back at the bend. “Tim” guessed the trouble, screwed down all the brakes he could lay hands on and thus prevented a smash. Needless to say for his exploit on this occasion Mr. Tim Troy was heralded as a hero.

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