Note: on private land, not visible from road. Please respect the privacy of the property owners.
During WWII, the idea of building fuel reservoirs in isolated and semi-concealed spots was adopted. A site near the east side of the railway tunnel between Swanson and Waitakere was chosen; it was tucked into a fold of the hill just south of the railway line. It was an airforce effort and the intention was to run a short road from near the foot of the tunnel hill across the railway line to the site.
Railways objected to the plan, claiming it was too dangerous to have road tankers carrying aviation fuel crossing the railway line and in turn railways offered to run rail tankers close to the site where the fuel could then be pumped into the reservoir. Work on a new rail deviation from Swanson to the tunnel had started and then been abandoned because of the war, but the new formation for the line already went near the reservoir site. Railways’ proposal was adopted and a short length of line with points near the mouth of the tunnel was laid.
A deep hole was excavated and ringed by 50,000 bricks and a steel tank 55 feet wide and 24 feet high holding 250,000 gallons was installed. A pump to empty the rail tankers or refill them from the reservoir was also installed and a 2.5 inch water pipe was laid on from the nearest water main, one mile away. The site was code-named AR7 (the number suggests there were others around). A narrow track led from the nearest point of road at the foot of tunnel hill and a guard was initially stationed there to deter trespassers.
After the war ended, the tank was emptied of fuel in 1946 and filled with water to extend its life, but an inspection in 1953 showed a slip had damaged the water pipe and the tank was deteriorating; it was removed.
As a consequence of this project, Ted Jull, a nearby farmer, who worked as a surfaceman on the railway, had the task every Saturday morning of walking from the bottom of his farm through the tunnel to oil the set of points on the short rail siding. It was not until Ted Jull retired that the Railways woke up to the fact that they had been employing him for nearly twenty years to oil the points of a siding that was no longer needed and the siding and points were removed.
Today, the track on which the siding sat is part of the main line, the deviation from Swanson to the tunnel, which had been abandoned for 40 years, was finally completed in 1981.
Rugged Determination, p169
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