21 August 2015

Mike Mellor

Wellington’s early railway stations

  • Lambton Railway Station, Wellington, June 1933. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Te Aro railway station, Wellington [ca 1897]. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Te Aro Railway Station, Wellington [ca 1900s]. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Wellington city had many different railway stations starting from 1874 until the current Wellington Railway Station was completed in 1937. All of these railway stations have since been demolished.

1874–1884: Pipitea Point Station, Thorndon Quay

The first sod on Wellington’s first railway to Lower Hutt, was turned by Governor Sir George Bowen in 1872. It opened in 1874 from its station at Pipitea Point, on the eastern side of Thorndon Quay near Davis Street, and the line reached the Wairarapa via the Rimutaka Incline in 1878. That same year the wooden building burned to the ground after the nearby Railway Hotel caught fire. The station closed in 1884 when the line was moved eastward onto a new reclamation.

1880–1885: Wellington Station, Featherston Street/Thorndon Quay

In 1880 the railway was extended southwards to a new station on the east side of Featherston Street just north of Whitmore Street, and the Railway Wharf (now the Inter-Island Wharf) was completed to improve the link between the railway and shipping. The station closed in 1885 so that Bunny Street could be extended seawards to Waterloo Quay, and the building was moved northwards to become the new Government station building. In 1903 the Railway’s Head Office, designed by George Troup, was opened on the site. Its functions moved to the current station in 1937, the building being taken over by the Defence Department. It was demolished in 1982, and the Holiday Inn now occupies the site.

1885–1937: Government (later Lambton) Station, Featherston Street

In 1885 the 1880 station building was pulled on rollers by a large number of men northwards along the east side of Featherston Street to its intersection with Lambton Quay and Mulgrave Street, where it became the new Government station.

1885–1937:  Manawatu (later Thorndon) Station, Thorndon Quay

In 1879 the Government started building a railway to open up the west coast of the North Island and the Horowhenua. A change of government and the economic situation meant that work stopped in 1880, with the formation largely complete as far as Johnsonville. Local business interests took over the works, and in 1885 the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company opened to Paremata (extended in 1886 to Longburn, near Palmerston North) from its own station on the east side of Thorndon Quay, just south of the current multiple-unit depot. A relic of the company is an original plaque on the eastern abutment of the modern bridge that takes the Wellington and Manawatu Railway (now KiwiRail’s Johnsonville Line) across Hutt Road.

1893–1917: Te Aro Station, Wakefield Street

Lobbying from the Chamber of Commerce and others resulted in an extension of the Government railway in 1893 southwards along the sea side of Customhouse and Jervois Quays and Victoria Street (now Wakefield Street, not the present-day Victoria Street) to just short of Oriental Parade. Pressure from the same group, because of congestion, contributed to the closure of the line and station in 1917, with the station later converted into a fruit and vegetable market. The Museum Hotel and Monument Apartments now occupy the site. In 2007 the construction of the apartments exposed the remains of the two platforms with their tracks and some point rodding, all now removed.


More information

Location

All of these stations have been demolished.

Additional image gallery details

Lambton Railway Station, Wellington, June 1933. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: PAColl-6301-86. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 

Te Aro railway station, Wellington [ca 1897]. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: PAColl-6301-12. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 

Te Aro Railway Station, Wellington [ca 1900s]. Taylor, J N fl 1900s: Photographs of Wellington. Ref: 1/2-104811-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of these images.