The Nelson Society of Modellers Inc. was established in 1958, to cater for the interests of model enthusiasts in the Nelson area.
In the years since it's inception the Society has developed an attractive and popular area at Tahunanui Beach, including one of the best multigauge railway tracks in New Zealand. This consists a multigauge track 524 metres long with 5 different gauges: 7.25", 6.25", 5", 3.5", 2.5" gauges, together with a tunnel and an over bridge.
Some of the early history of the Society compiled by Peter Evans may be found here:
First 11 Years 1958 - 1969 Compiled 1970
Next 10 Years Pt1 1969 - 1979 Compiled 1979
In 2003 work started on a ground level track encompassing our lease site, and circumnavigating the pond. The basic loop is 500m long with additional length used in passing loops and marshalling yards. This was opened by local MP Nick Smith in October 2004.
The 50th Anniversay of the Society was celebrated in September 2008. A plaque to commemorate the event was unveiled by founding member Norm Spedding. More details are available here.
We used to keep the pond topped up with town supply fresh water. With the advent of the new water treatment plant, Nelson City Council prohibited us from using that water. After long consideration it was decided to re-instate the old wells near the windmill. Two of the old wells were found and cleaned out. Two additional wells were sunk in the same vicinity. They are shallow (about 2m) and in very fine sand. Small pumps and float switches have been installed in each well. In combination they yield 30 - 40 litres per minute. This flow is not sufficient to keep the pond topped up in hot sunny conditions but it certainly mitigates the evaporative loss.
Raised track refurbishment.
Since the track was built 25+ years ago, some areas have subsided. A 10m length of straight has been replaced. Three subsided areas have been built up with concrete to their proper level. Super-elevation has been corrected in various places.
Bird netting in raised track station.
Swallows had been nesting in the roof of the station. Netting has now been installed to prevent access.
Ground Level Extension.
An additional 420m of ground level track has been completed. This features an overpass, a bridge and a tunnel. It was opened by local MP Nick Smith in September 2008 in conjunction with our 50th anniversary.
Additional Storage Space.
When building the track extension, we needed workshop space back again. To accommodate the rolling stock that had filled the workshop we purchased a 40' container. This had to be dressed up with a roof and cladding on the wall that faces the road in order to get permission to place it on the park that the track occupies.
Ground Level Wagons.
Four wagons were built for the ground level track. They are currently using bogies from raised track wagons. New bogies are being built and will be installed in due course.
The major shortcoming that emerged from the 50th anniversary was that the facilities for unloading locos were quite inadequate. It had been built when 5" locos were the norm and is too light for the current large 7 1/4" locos. We are currently building an improved and heavier duty facility. It is intended that it be easy to align with the vehicle, cope with heights up to the level of a truck deck and be safe to use single handed.