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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 32

Report and Valuation of Railway [Kaitangata]

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The Kaitangata Railway & Coal Company, Limited.

Fergusson & Mitchell, Printers Dunedin Princes Street

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Report and Valuation of Railway.

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Dunedin, The Directors of the Kaitangata Railway and Coal Company.


In accordance with your request, I have the honor to submit the following report on the Kaitangata Railway and Coal Mine.


The Kaitangata Branch Railway leaves the Main Trunk Line at the Stirling Station on the northern bank of the Clutha River, and runs eastward to the Township and Coal Field of Kaitangata, a distance of 4½ miles. The Branch passes right through the Township of Kaitangata, and strikes the Coal Field, about the middle of the western margin; it also runs close to the Clutha River at this point, which is practically the head of the deep water navigation. This line is, to all intents and purposes, the one recommended by me to the Provincial Government of Otago in 1873 (see "Votes and Proceedings of Provincial Council, Session XXXII"), and it is the shortest route by which the Coal Field can be brought into direct communication with the markets on all sides. The following table shows the distance by rail from your line to the different centres of population:—
Balclutha 7 miles
Waiwera 22 miles
Clinton 26 miles
Waipahi 36 miles
Gore 49 milespage 4
Waitahuna 32 miles
Lawrence 39 miles
Milton 19 miles
Waihola 28 miles
Greytown 30 miles
Mosgiel 45 miles
Dunedin 54 miles

Character of Works.

The Railway is constructed generally to the same standard as the main line. From the junction to the township, the line is practically straight and level, the only curve being 90 chains radius, and the steepest gradient 1 in 440, but the last 30 chains, leading into the mine, has four curves of 7½ chains radius, and gradients of from 1 in 30 to 1 in 42. These steep gradients are in favor of the traffic, consequently are an advantage in working the line.

The following notes give the leading features of the works—Land enclosed, 1 chain wide; Fencing, ditch, mound, four wires and top rail; Gates, as on main line; Formation, 12 feet wide; Bridges and Culverts of totara and matai timber, according to the General Government Standard Drawings; Sleepers, 7 feet x 8 inches x 4½ inches, about 2,000 to the mile; Ballast, gravel about 1½ cubic yards per yard forward; Rails, 40lbs per yard, Government pattern, joined with fish-plates, and fastened to the sleepers by dog-spikes.

The Station Buildings at Kaitangata consist of an engine shed, 31 feet by 19 feet, a goods shed, 42 feet by 21 feet, and a passenger platform, 100 feet by 12, all of the best timber and iron. The passenger house at Kaitangata Station is not erected yet. A substantial and convenient stage is built at the entrance to the mine, so that the coal is emptied at once from the miners' trucks into the railway waggons. Generally the works on the Kaitangata Railway are well designed, suitable for the purposes for which they were intended, and faithfully built with the best materials.

Rolling Stock.

The only rolling stock hitherto provided consists of a locomotive and 25 sets of waggon ironwork. The former is a 10 ton tank engine, 0 wheels coupled, manufactured by Messrs. Davidson & Co., of Dunedin; it is well designed, and equal to English manfacture. In consequence of the easy gradients, this locomotive is capable of hauling on the branch any load that can page 5 be taken by the heavy ones on the main line. The waggon ironwork is of the ordinary type, ready for erection—it was manufactured in England.


The Company's lease gives them the privelege of mining over an area of 1000 acres, and the present mine is opened near the middle of the western boundary. A drive of 100 yards into the slope of the hill strikes the coal at right angles to the seam, which at this point is 27 feet thick. I do not consider myself competent to make an estimate of the quantity of coal at this particular place, or in the whole ground leased by the Company, but when it is considered that a seam of equal thickness exists at Coal Point on the sea coast, three miles due east from your mine, and that coal has been found in various places for two miles north and south, I do not think it is too much to assume that the greater part, if not the whole of your land, is occupied by a thick seam of coal.

So far as working is concerned, it would be almost impossible to find a mine which offers greater facilities than the Kaitangata one. As already stated, the railway runs right up to the entrance, and the coal is received into the waggons 100 yards from where it is got. Indeed, if necessary, the locomotive might be taken into the workings. The seam dips towards the railway, consequently, the drive and workings have a fall outwards, which ensures perfect drainage at a minimum cost. The horizontal drive, instead of a vertical shaft, effectually saves the heavy charges of lifting and pumping. The roof of the mine is at present hard cemented conglomerate, easily supported; but if heavier ground is met with, the cost of propping will not be great, as Kaitangata is one of the best timber districts in Otago.

Character of Coal.

Professor Black, of the Otago University, gives in his Annual Report for 1875, the following analysis of the Kaitangata Coal, which was, I understand, made from a sample picked up by himself on the ground.

Coke 42.1 per cent.
Fixed Carbon 38.7 per cent.
Volatile Hydro-Carbon 38.9 per cent.
Ash 3.4 per cent.
Water 18.0 per cent.
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at my request he has recently analysed four samples, which give the following mean result—
Coke 45.0 per cent.
Fixed Carbon 40.88 per cent.
Volatile Hydro-Carbon 35.76 per cent.
Ash 4.05 per cent.
Water 19.31 per cent.

In contrast with these, I subjoin average results of analysis of eight samples of Tokomairiro and five of Green Island coals, also taken from Dr. Black's report for 1875.

Tokomairiro. Green Island.
Coke 39 per cent. 39 per cent.
Fixed Carbon 33 per cent. 36 per cent.
Volatile Hydro-Carbon 35.4 per cent. 34 per cent.
Ash 5 per cent. 2.8 per cent.
Water 27 per cent. 27 per cent.

From the above it will be seen that the Kaitangata Coal is at least 7 per cent, better than any local production that can be brought into competition with it. But this does not show the full measure of its superiority. The Kaitangata Coal has less sulphurous and other obnoxious gases in its composition, and makes a clearer and more cheerful fire than the other two; consequently, it is preferable for household purposes.


In making a valuation of the works of the Kaitangata Railway and Coal Company, I have taken them at what I consider a fair price as they stand, independent of any commercial or speculative value that may be attached to them, which also excludes any benefit derivable from the lease of the land. The following is the valuation under the various heads:—
Works on Main Line of Railway and at Mine £16,560 0 0
Station works, including Staging at Mine 910 0 0
Plant and Rolling Stock 3975 0 0
Land, Preliminary and Parliamentary expenses 1920 0 0
Engineering and Contingencies 2635 0 0
Total £26,000 0 0
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Although it is scarcely my province to do so, I shall, in conclusion, point out some of the advantages possessed by the Kaitangata Railway and Coal Mine, which amounts, in my opinion, to a guarantee of the success of the scheme, provided they are not neutralised by bad management, or some other extraneous cause.

The Railway runs to the centre of a thriving and rising district which, independent of its mineral wealth, has a large trade in timber and agricultural produce; this, in itself, would bring a fair traffic to the line.

In addition to its superior quality, which has already enabled the Kaitangata to compete successfully with the Green Island coal in the Dunedin market, it has the advantage of being nearer the country consumer. Those at Green Island are the only other large mines that have railway communication; and in the matter of distance alone, they cannot compete with the Kaitangata one further south than Waihola, while all the country beyond is thickly settled, and badly supplied with fuel of any kind.

As already shewn, the cost of getting the Kaitangata coal can be reduced to a minimum. I do not know another mine in the Province that offers greater facilities for working. We may, therefore, set this against the extra railway carriage, and assume that the first cost of the coal delivered in Dunedin is not greater than that from the deep pits within six miles of the town.

I have the honor to be, Gentlemen,

Your obedient servant,

W. N. Blair

, Civil Engineer.
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