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Driving Creek’s founder Barry Brickell purchased the present day Driving Creek property upon which the railway and pottery sit in 1973. The property was attractive to Barry for its ‘yellow plastic clay’, derived from the weathering of the old volcanic rocks. There was a scattering of pine trees amongst scrub, self-sown from original pines planted by the early Californian gold diggers of late 1800 century. The property was a mix of scrub and farmland, poor quality pastures that Barry quickly started reverting to native forest.
Most of the raw materials for the making of terracotta pottery garden wares, tiles and sculpture come from the upper slopes of the property.
As a railway enthusiast the property provided Barry with the opportunity to create a replica of the Ongarue bush tramway that he had visited in earlier years, a railway that has long since vanished.
The railway would provide a practical and environmental advantageous way to provide all weather access to clay and pine wood kiln fuel for the pottery. However, we suspect it was more about Barry being able to play trains on his own railway, an interest that allowed him to also explore his love of engineering.
Barry poured considerable money into railway construction before it was licensed to carry fare-paying public in 1990. This was a huge financial gamble that paid off with returns from the pottery steadily diminishing.
Driving Creek for a while moved into the tile and brickmaking industry but as time went by output slowly diminished and finally ended, something that DCR Ltd is reintroducing today.
Early on Barry embarked on a significant conservation programme that continues today to return the property back to its pre-European state. Thousands of young Kauri, Totara and Rimu have been planted. As a keen conservationist Barry built a 1.6-hectare predator free fenced wildlife sanctuary and sculpture park.