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Locomotive Driver Jock 'Reekie' McBarry

01 June 2008

Only a few cyclists on the Central Otago Rail Trail will ever be lucky enough to see the legendary ghost of the old railway. Every February, on the anniversary of the last steam train's journey in 1968, the shadowy figure of the locomotive's last driver, Jock 'Reekie' McBarry, briefly appears somewhere on the abandoned line. Legend dictates that his restless spirit is doomed in perpetuity to roam the trail searching for his former sweetheart - Millicent McMurtrie, the last tea-lady at the Wedderburn Station. A seemingly futile quest as Millicent ended up marrying Wedderburn's last Station Master. Now 87, she is a great-grandmother living it up at a rest home in Invercargill.

A couple of years after Ground Effect started out, we received an unsolicited postcard from General Jose Barrientos Croniero, “the oldest and most feared leader of the Cycling Revolution.” We laughed. It was duly published in our UnderGround newsletter. A series of 12 followed each year for the next, well 12 years. Barrie Cronin – a customer from Wellington, eventually came clean and revealed himself as the creator of the pre ‘selfie’ global explorer. Locomotive Driver Jock ‘Reekie’ McBarry was the last of the series.