Frankton Junction Railway House Factory

2, 8, 8A, 8B, 8C, 8D, 8E Railside Place, Dinsdale, Hamilton

  • Frankton Junction Railway House Factory.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: K Pfeiffer. Date: 18/07/2010.
  • Frankton Junction Railway House Factory .
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: K Pfeiffer. Date: 18/07/2010.
  • Frankton Junction Railway House Factory. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Laura Kellaway.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4946 Date Entered 22nd August 1991


Extent of List Entry

Extent of registration includes the land described as Lot 9 DP 345440 (CT 186263), South Auckland Land District, and the building known as Frankton Junction Railway House Factory thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Hamilton City


Waikato Region

Legal description

Lot 9 DP 345440 (CT 186263), South Auckland Land District

Location description

Railside Place, off Rifle Range Road



From the late nineteenth century railways became increasingly important for transport and communication in New Zealand. The itinerant nature of railway work meant that readily available low cost housing was a recurring problem. Following World War 1 the housing problem escalated and while the Railways Department had provided some accommodation before 1919, it was from then that the need to provide housing close to railway stations, both rural and urban, throughout New Zealand became apparent. Under William Ferguson Massey (1856-1925) the Railways Department decided to enter into a large scale housing scheme which would provide accommodation for all permanent members of its staff.

Headed by George Troup, the Architectural Branch of the Railways Department was established late in 1919 to design and supervise the construction of what became known as "railway houses". Architecturally designed houses were to be pre-cut in a building which became known as the House Factory and mass-produced.

Frankton Junction was chosen as the site for the House Factory because of its central location and the large number of employees resident in the area. The factory was erected near the Frankton Junction yard sidings in 1921-22 and cutting began in July 1923. Standardised parts including studs, wall plates, weatherboards, linings and sash and door mouldings were cut, numbered and marked for specific house types and complete house "bundles" were then sent by rail to the various locations sited near railway stations around the North island. South Island houses were not prepared at the House Factory. The pre-cut houses then took 2-3 weeks to assemble. The accompanying "drawings" covered every facet of construction to aid the unskilled labourer.

While cutting started in July 1923 the main operations were not underway until 1924-25 by which time about 400 houses were being cut each year. By 1926 there was a congestion of houses on the racks and some were placed at the disposal of local bodies. The operation was deemed too efficient and under pressure from the building industry, the Government closed the factory. In its last year, 1928, only 50 houses were cut and following the closure of the factory in 1929 most plant and equipment was moved from the site. More than 1300 staff houses plus other railway buildings had been cut at the factory.

Frankton Junction was one of ten major North Island settlements planned, surveyed and laid out by 1922. It became the biggest and most complete of the Railways Department settlements comprising some 160 pre-factory, factory-cut, post-factory and state houses.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Railways Department housing scheme was the first large scale housing scheme in New Zealand. It followed Seddon's Workers' Dwellings (dating from 1906) and Samuel Hurst Seager's "garden suburb" at Sumner Spur, Christchurch (1902-14). It was also the first time that an employer had provided both employment and permanent accommodation on a large scale in New Zealand, and the house factory was the focus of this settlement and the provision of railway housing throughout New Zealand.

The House Factory was the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere in the 1920s, and survives as the hub of this innovative and revolutionary concept in New Zealand's social and industrial heritage.


The House Factory is a good example of a purpose-built industrial building. Its form is derived largely from the distinctive saw-tooth roof which allows a large open floor area and extensive glazing along the south side of the building.


With its prominent roof lines and comparatively large scale, the House Factory is a prominent building in the suburb of Frankton. It is visually and physically related to the surrounding railway houses, many of which were cut at the factory.


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

Physical Description


This utilitarian industrial building is characterised by its saw-tooth roof. It has a central two-storeyed portion with a gabled roof. To the north are three saw-tooth roof sections and to the south, fifteen. The floor space of about 82.3 x 18.3 metres is lit by vertical roof glazing and was mostly occupied by woodworking machines.


1924: Factory extended

1929: Factory closed, all plant and equipment removed

Dates not known:

New wall in carpenter's shop.

Interior relined.

New doors and openings added.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1922 -

1924 -
Factory extended

1929 -
Factory closed, all plant and equipment removed

New wall in carpenter's shop. Interior relined. New doors and openings added.

Construction Details

Timber framed superstructure clad with weatherboards. Timber framed saw-tooth roof clad with corrugated iron.

Information Sources

Archives New Zealand (Wgtn)

Archives New Zealand (Wellington)

R 311/1981/1 Railway Dept Part 1 1895-1921, 11/1981/4, Part 2 1921-1955, 11/1981/4 House Building Pgm, Part 1 1919-1926, 11/1981/5 Miscellaneous, Part 1 1919-1952, 11/1981/11 Newspaper Reports, Part 1 1919-1925, 11/1981/13 House Factory at Frankton Junction Part 1 1920-1944, 11/1981/15 Machinery Band sawmill & house factory 1920-1944, 11/1981/26 Mr G Troup's report on America Part 1 1924-1925

National Archives, Auckland:

1061/34 Hamilton Box 32 Frankton Institute File

New Zealand Building Progress

New Zealand Building Progress

December 1920 pp 79-81

October 1923 pp 43-45

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.