Waverley Railway Station

Oturi Road, Waverley

  • Waverley Railway Station.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien. Date: 1/11/2002.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien. Date: 1/11/2002.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien. Date: 1/11/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5109 Date Entered 28th June 1990

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Extent of List Entry

Extent is part of the land described as Railway Land, Wellington Land District, as shown on SO 11730, and the building known as Waverley Railway Station thereon and its platform.

City/District Council

South Taranaki District

Region

Taranaki Region

Legal description

Railway Land, Wellington Land District

Summaryopen/close

Built in 1881, the Waverley Railway Station is a rare example of the once common 'Class Four' station.

Waverley was originally a military settlement called Wairoa, established on land confiscated from Ngati Ruanui in 1863. Built around a fortified redoubt, the town was one of the few in the area that remained in Pakeha hands during Titokowaru's War. This campaign was led by Ngati Ruanui leader, Riwha Titokowaru [?-1888], between 1868 and 1869, and left a legacy of hostility between Maori and Pakeha in the area. Tensions were heightened by conflict over land when pardoned Maori returned to the district in 1873. This friction prevented the government from considering the construction of a railway line through the area. In the 1870s the line from Wanganui was to extend only as far as Ihupuku at Waitotara. Local settlers petitioned the government to extend the railway, but it was not until 1881 that the line from Waitotara to Waverley was finally completed.

The expansion of the railways began in 1870 when, to promote settlement and stimulate economic growth, the Government adopted Colonial Treasurer Julius Vogel's [1835-1899] proposal to build a transport network throughout the country. To ensure that the maximum length of line was laid using the funds available, Vogel suggested that the least possible amount should be spent on lines and station buildings. Accordingly, the Public Works Department developed standard plans of station buildings that would reduce construction and design costs to a minimum. The stations were ranked into five classes and the class of station allocated to a settlement became an indication of its status and prospects. Class Four stations, such as the one constructed at Waverley, were reserved for the more important rural towns and were distinctly superior to Class Five stations. Despite an economic depression during the 1880s, which spelt the end of the 'Vogel era', New Zealand Rail continued to build stations according to the plans developed by the Public Works Department.

The Waverley Railway Station was completed in time for the opening of the Waverley Railway line in 1881. It was constructed around a timber frame, clad in weatherboards, and covered with a corrugated iron roof. Like all Class Four stations, it covered approximately 52 square metres [560 square feet] and originally consisted of a central lobby flanked by the station master's office on one side, and a ladies waiting room on the other. To add interest to the fa├žade, the lobby was set back by approximately 30 centimetres [1 foot] from the rest of the building and decorated with ornamental posts and arched windows. It was a relatively simple building, although its finish and general design indicated that it was of a better quality than Class Five stations. In 1896, economic recovery allowed New Zealand Rail to comply with local requests to erect a large wooden canopy over the platform. The canopy is decorated with scalloped weatherboards and is supported by six posts made of bent steel rail lines.

In the early twentieth century successive additions and alterations were made to the station building and surrounding freight facilities, reflecting Waverley's growing size and importance as an industrial centre. From the mid-twentieth century road and air travel began to challenge the railways' monopoly over transport and in the 1970s this competition caused many smaller stations to be shut down. The Waverley Railway Station was closed in 1978. Eleven years later tenders were called to remove the station, the goods shed and the tracks. The station building was saved from demolition by retired stationmaster Joss Smith, who secured a long-lease of the complex. That same year the 'Friends of the Waverley Railway Station' was formed to maintain and develop the station. In 1992 the station was reopened as a historic site and railway museum.

Waverley Railway Station has national significance as a surviving example of the once common form Class Four railway station building. It has wider historical and architectural importance for the insight it provides into the influence of Julius Vogel's plan to forgo large, expensive station buildings so as to open up as much of the country as possible. The late date in which the station was erected also demonstrates the strength of the impact of wars between Maori and Pakeha in the Taranaki region in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The station is noteworthy as a part of a railway complex that includes sidings, the goods shed and loading bank. It has great local significance as the principle gateway for goods and people travelling in and out of the town, and as a mark of the status of the town at the time it was built. The local intervention that prevented the demolition of the building demonstrates that the station is held in high esteem. The Waverley Railway Station also has great potential as an educational tool in its current role as a railway museum.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

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

The Waverley railway station, which is over 100 years old, is representative of over 1000 country stations which once characterised the railways which serviced much of New Zealand's rural land, providing the transport system for its people and the agricultural products they produced. Few such stations now remain.

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

ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY:

The 'Class 4' Station of which Waverley is one of two surviving examples, was a standard design railway station of the Public Works Department. Class 4 Stations introduced specific architectural decorations which were widely applied to larger station buildings over a period of thirty years - the recessed lobby, decorated arches at the sides, capped posts and miniature arched windows. These decorative elements are very distinctive of New Zealand railway buildings of this size and importance. Only five such stations now remain with these architectural decorations.

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Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

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

DESCRIPTION:

The railway from Wanganui reached Waverley in 1881 towards the end of the period of railway construction associated with Vogel's public works programme, and the earliest section of the station building is believed to date from that period. Waverley is typical of country stations which characterised and serviced New Zealand's developing rural land. There were once over 1000 such stations in New Zealand, but very few now remain.

Physical Description

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

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

The station as built was a standard Class 4 station building. It has been considerably modified and extended and today remains a simple building with lapped weatherboards and an easy pitched roofline. The canopy which has been added along the full length of the building gives it a gable roofline. The canopy is supported on six posts formed from bent steel rail lines. The ends of the canopy are clad in vertical butted boards with decorative valancing. The building has vertical battens over joins in the weatherboards which show the successive additions or alterations to the building. The original open lobby or waiting room has been incorporated into the overall building envelope. Windows are mainly double hung sashes. Some windows and decorative detail of the earliest portion still survive.

MODIFICATIONS:

The building has been considerably modified throughout its life by the addition of units in series, the enclosing of the lobby or waiting room, and the addition of the canopy. No dates for these additions are known.

Notable Features

Canopy and posts

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

The station building is part of an intact country railway station complex, complete with sidings, goods shed, loading bank and semaphore signals.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1881 -

Addition
1896 -
Canopy erected over platform

Modification
1990 -
Station repiled

Modification
-
Lobby and waiting room enclosed

Construction Details

The Waverley Railway Station has a timber frame and is clad in timber weatherboards. The station and verandah are covered with a corrugated iron roof. The verandah is supported by steel posts.

Completion Date

1st May 2003

Report Written By

Rebecca O'Brien

Information Sources

Churchman, 1990

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

Mahoney, 1987

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

Sole, 1990

L. Sole, Waverley 1860-1920, Wanganui, 1990

Yonge, 1985

J Yonge, New Zealand Railways and Tramways Atlas, Quail, Exeter, 1985

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Central Region Office

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.