Greymouth Railway Station

156 Mackay Street, Greymouth

  • Greymouth Railway Station. Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: Mattinbgn - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Mattinbgn. Date: 30/11/2011.
  • Greymouth Railway Station.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith.
  • Greymouth Railway Station showing people on the platform, station buildings and trains. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image..
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library. Taken By: Frederick George Radcliffe.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3039 Date Entered 28th June 1990

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Grey District

Region

West Coast Region

Legal description

Ppty ID 81182 LO 2313/2 L 48570

Summaryopen/close

The Greymouth Railway Station dates from 1895 and was built to cope with the increase in traffic brought about by the opening of the Greymouth-Hokitika line in 1893. While a railway station had existed at Greymouth from 1876, it had only serviced the railway line that ran from the port at Greymouth to the Brunner coal mine. The line between Greymouth and Hokitika had begun in 1889 but difficulties with funding meant that little progress was made. However, in 1891 the government accepted that it was now a matter of urgency to finish the line, as recent dry weather had meant ships were unable to land at Hokitika. Without a railway there was no easy way of transporting food or goods from Greymouth to Hokitika. The line was officially opened in December 1893 and construction of the station buildings started the following year.

At Greymouth the station buildings were to consist of a second-class passenger-station, platform and a goods-shed 100ft. x 40ft (30.5m x 12m). The term 'second-class passenger-station' refers to one of the standard designs that formed the basis of most of the railway stations erected during the late nineteenth century expansion of New Zealand's railways. This expansion of the railway network began as part of Sir Julius Vogel's (1835-1899) immigration and public works scheme. Standard designs were an easy way of coping with the numbers of buildings that needed to be erected in a relatively short space of time. These early standard designs ranged from large stations with gabled roofs to very simple single room lean-tos.Greymouth Railway Station is one of the few second-class stations ever erected.

The main station building is a long, rectangular wooden structure and backs onto Mackay Street. A verandah runs the length of the building on the platform side, and a free-standing shelter extends on either side of the building. The station building is one room deep and housed, from west to east, foreman's office, storeroom, porters' room, parcel and freight inspector's offices, a parcel store, booking office, ticket lobby, waiting room, bookstall and women's toilets. All of the rooms were entered from the platform side with the exception of the ticket office, which could also be accessed from Mackay Street. Now the station building houses a rental car agency and an information centre.

A collection of outbuildings once stood at the east end of the railway station, which housed the men's toilets, lamp room, coal shed and footwarmer store. These were demolished as part of a refurbishment during the late 1990s. The station is also associated with the adjacent footbridge, which was constructed as part of the re-arrangement of the railway yard in the late 1920s. The footbridge is also registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust/Pouhere Taonga, but has, unfortunately, recently been dismantled.

The Greymouth Railway Station was a pivotal part of the West Coast railway system; a railway system that was essential for the exploitation of the West Coast resources such as coal and timber. The station has been the district headquarters of the railways on the West Coast and a busy passenger station for nearly 100 years. Although both passenger and freight business declined during the 1970s the success of the TranzAlpine train journey between Christchurch and Greymouth has revived the station to some extent in recent years. The station building itself is one of the few examples of second-class passenger stations built in New Zealand and is an important feature of the Greymouth townscape.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Before the Otira Tunnel opened in 1923 Greymouth was the hub of a self-contained railway complex of some magnitude, both in the number of lines and their volume of traffic. All the West Coast railway operations were formerly supervised from the district headquarters at Greymouth and in recent times the station has regained some of its importance with the introduction of the Trans-Alpine Scenic railway.

ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY:

The Greymouth Railway Station is a good example of the standard Class 2 station erected in New Zealand's larger provincial centres in the late nineteenth century. Standardisation of design was first applied to railway stations in this country in the 1870s and was developed and continued by George Troup well into the twentieth century as it was the most economical way of designing the hundreds of stations needed throughout the country. Standardisation also created a uniform corporate image for the Railways Department and to this end the stations even had a standardised colour scheme.

Six classes of stations were erected nationwide, of which the largest three had gabled roofs and the remainder were of lean-to construction. Only a handful of Class 2 stations were ever built in New Zealand, however, as it was difficult to meet the specialised needs of larger complexes with a standardised design. The Greymouth station is a building of few architectural pretensions but which is nevertheless architecturally important because of its relatively unaltered state and because its adjacent outbuildings, once a feature of most large stations, are still extant.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK VALUE:

The railway station is a prominent feature of the Greymouth townscape, although the main station building presents a very unprepossessing facade to Mackay Street.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Troup, George Alexander

G A Troup (1863-1941) was born in London in 1863 and educated in Scotland. He trained as an architect and engineer under C E Calvert of Edinburgh and came to New Zealand in 1884. After a short time with the Survey Department in Otago he became a draughtsman for New Zealand Railways in Dunedin and then, from 1888, in Wellington. Troup became Chief Draughtsman in 1894. He designed many station buildings throughout the county, some of which are still in use today; these buildings form an important part of New Zealand's landscape. His best known building is the Dunedin Railway Station (1904-07). He also designed the head office building in Wellington for Railways (1901, now demolished).

Troup became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1907. After World War I he was promoted to head the newly established Architectural Branch of New Zealand Railways. On retirement from Railways in 1925 he entered local body politics and was Mayor of Wellington from 1927 to 1931. Troup was prominent in the Presbyterian Church and founded the Presbyterian Young Men's Bible Class Union. He was an elder of the church for 47 years and also served on the governing bodies of several Wellington secondary schools. Education was a life-long interest and he was keenly involved in the training of engineering cadets in New Zealand Railways. Troup was knighted in 1937 and died in 1941.

Last updated 1 October 2014

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

DESCRIPTION:

The first railway station in Greymouth was erected in 1876 to serve the first railway line on the West Coast which ran from Greymouth to the Brunner coal mine. This building was a Class 4 standard railways design and it was subsequently replaced in 1897 by the present station. For many years staff from the railway station had offices in the nearby Government Building because there was insufficient room in the station itself. Despite this the station was never substantially altered or replaced.

Physical Description

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

The Greymouth Railway Station is a through station which stands at the eastern end of the township. Built five years after George Troup became Chief Draughtsman of the New Zealand Railways Department, the station building which is a standard Class 2 design, borders on Mackay Street without an intervening footpath. Beneath the gabled roof, the building is one room wide for the most part and it houses, from west to east, a foremen's office, store room, porters', parcels and freight inspector's offices, a parcel store, booking office, ticket lobby, waiting room, bookstall, and women's toilets. Large sash windows, with fanlights above those on the south wall, light these rooms and the ticket lobby has double doors at both ends, thus providing passenger access from the platform to Mackay Street.

Over the platform the building has a lean-to verandah which is supported by chamfered wooden columns with diagonal braces and wrought iron brackets between the columns and verandah eaves which feature circular insets. These are complemented by the steel hoops which lie between the gable apex and I-beam supports of the freestanding platform shelter which extends from each end of the main building. By contrast the northern wall of the station has very shallow eaves and so offers no protection from the weather for people using the Mackay Street parcel and passenger entrances. At the eastern end of the platform, adjacent to the main station building, are a group of outbuildings, also clad in rusticated weatherboards, which house the men's toilets, footwarmers' store, lamp room and coal sheds.

MODIFICATIONS:

1907 Platform lengthened.

1915 Verandah and platform extended west end by 30.5 metres.

1916 Dog boxes built at east end of station building.

1922 Bicycle shelter erected beside dog boxes and parcels office extended.

1926 Porters' locker room erected in place of bicycle shelter, further bicycle stand built.

1934 Platform lengthened eighteen metres to the west.

1936 Lean-to sections of outbuildings removed, lamp room shifted and main to conform with footwarmers' store, dog boxes moved to other side of yard. Verandah extended by 30.5 metres to the east.

1947 Partition between waiting room and ticket lobby erected.

1952 Platform resurfaced and faced with concrete.

1961 Verandah over Mackay Street entrance pulled down.

Post 1970 Aluminium cladding fitted north wall of station building.

Internal partitions erected in parcels store to create a private office.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1894 - 1895

Modification
1920 -
Parcel office extended

Addition
1925 - 1926
Porters' room added

Modification
1934 -
Platform extended

Modification
1936 -
Verandah extended

Construction Details

Timber frame structure clad in rusticated weatherboards with wooden internal linings and a corrugated iron roof. Aluminium cladding north side of main station building. Freestanding platform shelters flanking station are supported by railway iron and circular steel hoops.

Completion Date

16th May 2002

Report Written By

Melanie Lovell-Smith

Information Sources

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR)

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives

1893 D1, Appendix F, p.32; 1984 D1, Appendix F, p.36; 1985 D1, Appendix E, p.39

Archives New Zealand (Chch)

Archives New Zealand (Christchurch)

Greymouth Station contract plans, n.d., CABA CH 86 GR 502; Plans GR 862 & 502, Ministry of Works Accession

File 267, CH9, N.Z.R. Accession, National Archives, Christchurch

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1906

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 5, Nelson, Marlborough, Westland, 1906

p.557

Department of Conservation

Department of Conservation

Research file, Hokitika

Garner, 1996

John Garner, Guide to New Zealand Rail Heritage, Wellington, 1996

p.190

Leitch, 1972

David B. Leitch, Railways of New Zealand, Auckland, 1972

Mahoney, 1987

J. D. Mahoney, Down at the Station: A Study of the New Zealand Railway Station, Palmerston North, 1987

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Research material compiled by P. Mahoney, Wellington

Noonan, 1975

Rosslyn J. Noonan, By Design: A Brief History of the Public Works Department Ministry of Works 1870-1970, Wellington, 1975

Rail Heritage Trust of New Zealand Register

Rail Heritage Trust of New Zealand Register

Roberts, 1998

F.K. Roberts, A Compendium of Railway Construction: a summary of the Public Works statements from 1889-1941. Part Three, Nelson and West Coast Region, Wellington, 1998

pp.50-52

Troup, 1982

G. Troup, George Troup: Architect and Engineer, Palmerston North, 1982

University of Canterbury

University of Canterbury

New Zealand Architects File, School of Fine Arts Reference Room

West Coast Scrapbook

West Coast Scrapbook

compiled by J.D. Mahoney, Christchurch

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.