Before we enjoyed a great lunch at the Helensville Railway Station Cafe, we visited the Helensville Train Museum right next door.
Run by the Helensville Railway Station Trust by volunteers, this is well worth checking out.
There is a gigantic model railway based on Helensville, even replicating well know local buildings and known points. There is even a little orange sign that says, “You are Here” 🙂
The chap that built the model spent 30 years putting it together.
Click on any photo for Hi Res or a Slideshow
After spending an hour or so, checking it all out, one of the volunteers came over and said to me, “come and check this out, I’ll demonstrate it for you”.
There were two red boxes with buttons and bells.
This was The Tyers Tablet system which railways in both Great Britain and New Zealand used up until 1994 on single lines to prevent head on collisions.
It involved a sophisticated coded bell system with switches with electromagnetic locks that allows a small disk, a Tablet, to be released for a train driver when the line is clear. The system was setup between railway stations at each end of a line.
Given that it was setup in the dark old days of bleeps over the phone lines, it’s a clever system. Helensville Railway Museum is the only one that we know of still in working order and when you think of what it had to do and when it was invented, it’s pretty clever.
If you want more info on this, Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Tyers Tablet system and here’s a youtube vid of the Helensville setup being explained.
The two volunteers there were only too happy to show me everything at the museum and couldn’t have been more helpful. It’s a must do if you’re in town.
It’s $3.00 each and well worth it.