Shannon Railway Station

Plimmer Terrace (State Highway 57), Shannon

  • Shannon Railway Station. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 4/07/2012.
  • Shannon Railway Station. Building detail. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: lts-mrb . Taken By: lts-mrb - Wikimedia Commons. Date: 22/11/2009.
  • Shannon Railway Station. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Unknown.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4703 Date Entered 25th September 1986


Extent of List Entry

Extent is part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 71514 (CT WN 39D/463, NZ Gazette 1999 p. 849), Wellington Land District, part of the land described as Railway Land, Wellington Land District, as shown on SO 13409, and the building known as Shannon Railway Station thereon and its platform.

City/District Council

Horowhenua District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 71514 (CT WN39D/463, NZ Gazette 1999 p. 849); Railway Land, Wellington Land District


Built in 1893, the Shannon Railway Station is considered to be the only surviving station building built by the privately owned Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company. The company operated the line between Wellington and Longburn from 1885 until it was taken over by New Zealand Railways in 1908.

During the 1870s there was a growing interest in opening up the land between Wellington and Foxton for settlement. The government began preliminary work on a west coast route out of Wellington in 1879, part of what would ultimately become a line between Wellington and Auckland. When a change of government brought a halt to funding in 1880, a group of mainly Wellington businessmen joined together and successfully lobbied the government to allow for a private company to complete the line. In August 1881 the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company Limited was incorporated, and in March 1882 the company signed a contract with the government to construct a railway between Wellington and Longburn. The contract stipulated the standard of construction, charges, and that the railway would be open on 25 September 1887.

The first contract was let in September 1882, and construction was begun on several sections of the line rather than from each end. Progress was slow, hampered by swamps and there were difficulties with the construction of the tunnels along the Kapiti coast. On 21 September 1885 the first 25 km section between Wellington and Paremata was opened. A little over a year later the entire line was completed, and the Governor General, Sir William Jervois (1821-1897), drove in the last spike at Otaihanga on 3 November 1886, ten months ahead of the government deadline. Along the new line the company had selected sites for settlement, including that of Shannon, named after George Vance Shannon (1842-1920), a director of the company. Shannon, and fellow directors, John Plimmer (1812-1905) and William Hort Levin (1845-1893), had each taken 2,000 shares (equal to £30,000) out of the initial capital required of £50,000. Like Shannon, Plimmer and Levin contributions were acknowledged in the names of stations along the railway line.

The first railway station at Shannon was built in 1886 and was essentially a flag station/shelter shed. In 1893 this station was removed to Paraparaumu and replaced with the current station. When built this second station was based on a standard Public Works Department plan, and known as a 'Vogel class 4'. It was essentially a wooden three-roomed lean-to structure consisting of a stationmaster's office, ladies' waiting room, and ticket lobby. The platform consisted of concrete and gravel. In 1902 a luggage/parcels room was added. In 1908, with the North Island Main Trunk Line almost completed, the government acquired the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company. In 1910 a verandah was added to the station. Before the First World War additional stock sidings were added to the station yard to cope with the increased amount of livestock being carried by the railway. Between 1921 and 1924 the hydro-electric scheme at Mangahao further increased the demands placed on the railway and station, and again the sidings accommodation was increased. Passenger travel also continued to increase and in 1936 a new parcels/luggage room was constructed.

By the latter half of the twentieth century competition from road transport led to the decline in railway traffic and in 1980 the station was closed. In 1985 the Shannon Railway Station Trust was formed to save the building. In 1992 the Horowhenua District Council acquired the station from the New Zealand Railways. Between 1993 and 1998 the trust, in association with the district council, Shannon Tourism Development Taskforce Inc. and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust/Pouhere Taonga, restored the building with the help of a grant from the Lotteries Grants Board. The station was 're-opened' for community use in March 1998 and the following year the Rail Heritage Trust acknowledged the restoration work with an award. Today the station building contains an information centre, with displays on the history of the station and the Shannon district. Commuter trains travelling between Wellington and Palmerston North still stop at Shannon.

The Shannon Railway Station has great historical significance as the only remaining station building built by the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company. Locally it is a tangible reminder of the role of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company in the founding of Shannon. Although modified, the building is architecturally interesting, as very few 'Vogel class 4' buildings remain. It engenders local pride as shown by the community's efforts to restore the station.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This is the only surviving station building built by the Wellington and Manawatu Company, a private company which operated between Wellington and Longburn, from 1885 until taken over by the NZ railways in 1908. It is named after C.V. Shannon, a Director of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company.

A utilitarian wooden station building typical of the period. Wooden stations of this age are quite rare


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1893 -

1902 -
Addition of a parcel and luggage room

1910 -
Addition of verandah

1936 -
Addition of a new parcels/luggage room

1993 - 1996
Restoration of station

Information Sources

Churchman, 1990

Geoffrey B. Churchman and Tony Hurst, 'The Railways of New Zealand, a journey through history', Auckland, 1990

Law, 1987

Marjorie D. Law, From bush & swamp: the centenary of Shannon, 1887-1897, Palmerston North, 1987

Mahoney, 1987

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

New Zealand Historic Places

New Zealand Historic Places

Dorothy Pilkington, 'A successful colonist', March 1996, No. 57, pp. 19-21

Conservation Plan

Conservation Plan

Ian Bowman, 'Shannon Railway Station Conservation Plan, for New Zealand Rail Heritage Trust', commissioned by Rail Heritage Trust, 1992.

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.