The site at Lagoon Drive, a flat piece of land on the waters edge of the Panmure Basin adjacent to the skating rink, was considered the most suitable for the club’s requirements at the time. It was made clear by the MWBC that this could only be a temporary measure, as a large swimming complex, to be known as ‘Swimarama’, was to be erected on the site at a future date. The site was surveyed and in December 1962, a start was made on the preliminary ground work for an oval miniature railway track some 440 feet long.
View of the Panmure track in December1963 from Lagoon Drive.
A locomotive smokebox was provided by the N Z Railways to be placed in a prominent place at the site to advertise the Panmure railway track. The smokebox was mounted on a plinth with a plaque commemorating the official opening by Bob McCulloch, the Mt Wellington Borough Mayor during Auckland Anniversary Weekend 1964 (this smokebox is now at the Peterson Reserve site). The clubhouse housed the first comprehensive display of models to be held in the club’s own premises. The locomotives ran all weekend hauling good numbers of passengers, and from this time onwards regular track running took place.
In June 1968, the first hint of the pending relocation of the track occurred with an announcement in the Eastern Suburbs Courier that approval had been given for the raising of a loan to build the new swimming pool. It was ascertained that the track would have to be moved within five months. The MWBC agreed to move the club buildings to the new site free of charge. This news came in the nick of time for the club was in the process of making plans to extend the track, possibly to ground level (members having experienced the ground level track at Hamilton) and the installation of a boat pond in the centre.
Official opening of the track at the Swimarama site on 25 January 1964
By the end of the month the committee members, having examined several possible sites with the MWBC borough engineer Jack Fitzgerald, agreed that the site at Peterson Reserve next door to the Waipuna Lodge on the opposite side of Panmure Basin was the best. The reserve looked somewhat derelict with roughly mowed grass, however the steep terrain and the water in close proximity showed possibilities of an unusual track configuration, bearing in mind that most miniature 3 ½” & 5” gauge railways at the time, both here and overseas, usually consisted of a more or less oval track, as flat as the proverbial pancake. As the property was underneath high tension wires, discussions took place between the Council and the NZED, and eventually they agreed to a lease. The committee had previously decided, to erect the present track in an extended form, but were not going to pursue the ground level option as it was considered more difficult to operate the smaller locomotives.