Railway House (Former)

31 Keepa Street, Levin

  • House (Railway), Levin. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Paul Le Roy. Taken By: Paul Le Roy – Minicooperd. Date: 6/01/2019.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4082 Date Entered 5th September 1985


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 20 DP 2115 (CT WN25A/622), Wellington Land District and the building known as Railway House (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Horowhenua District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lot 20 DP 2115 (CT WN25A/622), Wellington Land District


The former Railway House at 31 Keepa Street, Levin, is one of four built here in 1926 to the Frankton Railway House Factory’s standard pattern known as No.2 Class B Plan AB296. The Railway House is of historical, architectural, and social significance. The house is an example of the many specifically designed and built at Frankton Junction under the New Zealand Railway Housing Scheme and as such is significant in the history of state housing in New Zealand. These houses also played an important role in providing security and establishing an identifiable community for the railway workers.

The New Zealand Railways Department established the Railway Housing Scheme under William Ferguson Massey (1856-1925) to provide housing for its stationmasters and railway workers after a shortage of accommodation from 1900. An Architectural Branch was set up by the Railway Department in 1919, with George Troup (1863-1941) responsible for supervising the design and construction of the railway houses. In 1921-1922, a railway housing factory and saw mill were built in Frankton near Hamilton, to construct kitset houses that would be assembled on future housing sites around the North Island to house the Railways staff and their families.

800 acres of the Horowhenua block that was under the guardianship of Te Keepa Te Rangihiwinui (1820s-1898) was given to William Sievwright, a solicitor from Gisborne in 1886. Peter Bartholomew (1840-1918), a timber merchant from Levin, purchased a large amount of this land, bounded by Keepa Street, Oxford Street, Hokio Beach Road, and Mabel Street, in 1887. After Bartholomew’s death, in 1925 auctioneers Abraham & Williams Ltd approached New Zealand Railways offering Keepa Street lots 16, 18, 20, and 22 of the Bartholomew Estate land sale at £30 a lot, which New Zealand Railways accepted and bought in 1925-1926. After purchasing the lots, New Zealand Railways built the prefabricated houses cut from the Frankton Railway House Factory at Frankton Junction on the Keepa Street lots.

The Railway House at 31 Keepa Street (Lot 20), was built to a standardised factory plan (No.2 Class B Plan AB296) with a D style porch and roof on the 1217m² site in 1926. The bungalow style house is made from timber sourced from the Railways’ own forests in the central North Island, and has a single-gable corrugated iron roof with vertical battens as decoration under the gable end. The floor plan of this house reflects that it was purposely designed for families. It had three bedrooms, a parlour, kitchen, bathroom, laundry, front porch, and outhouse.

With a decline in the rail workforce in the 1980s, the distinctive railway communities began to diminish leaving Railways New Zealand to sell its houses to private buyers or find other uses for them. In 1983, Railway New Zealand sold 31 Keepa Street to a private buyer. Since its purchase, a garage has been installed and the house has undergone several interior modifications to better suit a modern lifestyle, but the exterior remains much the same with the exception of aluminium windows in the original front window cavities.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Frankton Railway House Factory

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Frankton Railway House Factory Architectural Branch

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1926 -

Additional building added to site
2007 -
Garage installed

Aluminium window joinery replaced original timber joinery

Completion Date

23rd September 2016

Report Written By

Nicola Bowden

Information Sources

Kellaway, 1988

Laura Kellaway, Frankton Junction & the Railway House B.Arch. Thesis, University of Auckland 1988

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.