CRS Document Archive

From small beginnings, similar and with acknowledgement to its former parent NZRLS society at Ava, the Canterbury Railway Society (CRS) has a collection of archival material relating to New Zealand Railways, a collection that is continually being added to.

The Society’s premises are located at Ferrymead Heritage Park on site of the Canterbury Railways working railway.

Enquires for material from our archives may take some time to action. We are a railway interest society, and only have a very small team of voluntary archives staff who do this work in their spare time. Sometimes they have to attend to family and other important commitments, so we are not always able to give instant answers to requests by return email. Please allow a reasonable amount of time for our volunteers to research and reply to any request. Thank you

People wanting to do research are advised to make prior arrangements with the Archivist, Contact the CRS via our Online Form, voice or phone message 021 589 921.
If you are a Society member, please always quote your membership number.

Useful Hints for the collector

  • Newspaper clippings should always record the name of the newspaper and the date of issue.
  • NEVER use Sellotape® or other adhesive tapes and REMOVE all pins and staples.
  • Scrapbooks – material should be mounted single-sided, NOT on both sides of the paper. This makes for easier filing should the scrap book be broken up.
  • NEVER use biros or ink on the back of photographs. It is recommended that a black pencil (preferably 2B or softer) or a chinagraph pencil be used.
  • Negatives should be retained wherever possible.

Plans referenced by NZR Drawing numbers etc.

There is an extensive series of drawings, tracings, blueprint etc. that have been produced by various departments of the old NZR.

They include CCE plans, (Civil Engineers Office) Chief Mechanical Engineer for the workshops at Addington and Greymouth. Signal and Electrical Branch (Addington)

Many unnumbered NZR Plans. They vary in size from 8×11 inch and even smaller to very large similar to A1 size or bigger, especially CME plans.

At present the reference method is by drawing number. We will endeavour to find something for you by name and approximate date reference but cannot promise a successful result.

The Book Reference Library

The Library collection of railway related books is being catalogued and contains

Over 2000 hard and soft covered books. A list will be published on site in due course.

Note: At present photocopying is not possible, or even when books are available, due to the book’s binding preventing it from lying flat.

Engineering Society papers etc.

There is a collection of several proceedings, papers, gazettes etc. bound and unbound

These can only be consulted by arrangement but will not photocopy easily in the case of bound volumes.

Technical Operations of the NZR

A collection of Railway Department correspondence files is also held.

  • Correspondence files from various branches and divisions of the Railways Department.
  • Technical writings on various railway matters, particularly engineering, originating from staff and consultants.
  • The Staff Magazine. Produced at various intervals containing information about staff and of interest to staff.
  • Official staff lists. Recorded annually, these are consulted frequently by those doing genealogical research.

Reference by description. If you are seeking names from the staff lists please be careful with the position held and advise as much information as is already known, particularly full names. The lists are divided into Departmental divisions,

Management and permanent staff. Accurate identification will assist the searcher. No information is held on temporary staff.

General Archive

The Society also maintains archives on such items as various lines of railway (open and closed) and general railway subjects such as weed spraying, railway vehicles and rolling stock, Royal tours etc.

These boxes contain correspondence, plans, descriptions newspaper cuttings and some photographs on a variety of subjects.

Search and Copying Fees

Activity Non Members Members
Search Fee
Request in Person $10 per visit* Free
Request by Mail etc $25 first hour
$20 each additional 30mins
First hour free
$15 each additional 30mins
Collection Images
For Private Use/Research Cost of print of image
or digital medium + 20%
Minimum charge $15 per order
Cost of print of image
or digital medium + 10%
Minimum charge $5 per order
Out sourced reproduction
(Colour copying, Photos etc)
Enquire for scale of charges
Postage and Packing at cost

* If no significant Archivist input required

Affiliated societies, will be charged as for Society members, except Minimum charge will be $10 per order.

Full Schedule of Rates and Conditions with Image Request form … PDF file.

The above charges are to assist in meeting the overhead costs of maintaining and administering the archives and the Society’s premises. The Archivist and archive team work on a voluntary unpaid basis.