Papanui Railway Station

Restell Street, Christchurch

  • Papanui Railway Station. Original image submitted at time of registration.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection.
  • .
    Copyright: Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Schebe66.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7415 Date Entered 20th February 1998


City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 76189

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


In September 1870 the Canterbury Provincial Government accepted tenders for the construction of a railway line between Addington and Papanui. When J Long was appointed as Papanui's first stationmaster in 1872 he conducted business from a platform backed by a modest-sized, unheated shed, which also served as waiting shed and booking office. The present building was completed in 1900. Until 1934 trams ran to the station to connect with trains running to and from North Canterbury,

offering passengers a speedier trip to Cathedral Square than if they had remained aboard the train for the final leg. In 1968 the station was serving rail car passengers and supplying several industrial plants such as the Firestone tyre factory. Suburban passenger services ceased in 1972. In 1995 the redundant and dilapidated station was converted into a cafe.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Although the Papanui Railway Station has been described as being typical of a Vogel Period station, its style, design, and plan actually conforms to that of a Troup Period Type "B" & "C" station. Style indicators of the Troup Period Type "B" & "C" station, which the Papanui Railway Station has, are:

- Standard design wide gable-ended station building with ridged roof, and attached partly gable-ended platform verandah with decorative valance.

- A basic floor plan providing for a lobby, ladies waiting room, ladies WC, luggage room, stationmaster's office, and fireplaces set on the centre line of the building.

- Road frontage with windows (and door in this particular example).

- Boxed eaves on both frontages decorated with wooden brackets (placed only on the corner posts of the building in this particular example).

- A finial mounted on each gable end.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

The construction of railway lines was the subject of considerable economic and political attention in colonial New Zealand. The commitment to build a station at Papanui was given in 1870 by Canterbury Provincial Government Superintendent William Rolleston while electioneering. The station served the line north from Christchurch, handling a mixture of suburban and long-distance traffic. It also formed

a terminus for a popular tram route for 34 years and was influential in siting Christchurch's second technical school, but not mentioned in secondary works such as JA Mahoney's Down at the Station or Churchman and Hurst's The Railways of New Zealand, is of representative value only.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

DATE: 1900

ARCHITECT: Designed during the period when George Troup was Head Draftsman, Head Office, New Zealand Railways.

STYLE CODE: Resembles a Troup Period Type "C" station.


There appears to be some doubt as to what type of design the Papanui Railway Station is, since it is identified in the nomination form as a Vogel period station. A standard "Class C" station building, as described in the nomination form, is identified by Paul Mahoney as a Troup Period Type "C" station, and every design detail of the Papanui Railway Station confirms this. The fact that the building was erected in 1900 does not,

per se, mean that it necessarily has to be identified as being "typical of the Vogel period". The Troup period is nominally defined by Mahoney as being 1904-1945, 1904 being the year the first edition of the "NZR Engineer's Pocket Book" was issued, but it should be noted that George Troup was Head Draftsman at the head office of New Zealand Railways from 1892 until his appointment as Designing Engineer in 1902, and Head Architect in 1919.

Troup is acknowledged by Mahoney as having had a key influence in the design of railway stations and it is not unreasonable to assume that Troup's influence began to assert itself in a major way from the time of his appointment as Head Draftsman in 1892. Troup inherited the principle of the standardisation of railway station designs from the Vogel period. The Papanui Railway Station appears, however, to anticipate

the later standard designs that have come to be identified as Troup Period types. The question therefore needs to be asked as to whether or not these standard types created by Troup were not already in place before the Engineer's Pocket Book was officially issued in 1904, but during the period when Troup was Head Draftsman. The most

convincing factor for this argument is the design of the Papanui Railway Station itself. It gives no indication whatever in its design or style of having been a Vogel Period railway station that was added to or modified to conform to its 1900 (and present day) appearance. This observation is based on the fact that the gable-ended station verandah appears to be an integral part of the design (as with some Troup "B" and "C" stations), and that there is typical Troup decoration in the form of a decorative valance with scalloped ends at the ends of the platform verandah roof, wooden eaves brackets on the main building, finials on the main gable ends of the station building, and finally the distinctive Troup designed iron hoops supporting the platform verandah roof.

A contrary view on the origins of the design of the Papanui Railway Station could be that it was designed and built as a simple Vogel Period Gable Station without the platform verandah and other decorations. However there is no indication of any modifications having taken place with this building other than that of the recorded modification of enlarging the lobby, apparently in August 1941 according to the date on the District Engineer's plan. None of the Vogel Period "Class" stations appear to have a standard design incorporating twin gable-ended structures like the Papanui Railway Station, i.e., a design having a main gable-ended station building with an attached gable-ended platform verandah having decorative valances at either end.

(m) Such additional criteria not inconsistent with those in paragraphs (a) to (k):

There are 29 registered railway stations, out of which a sample of 18 relevant buildings was surveyed.

The position is taken in this assessment that the nearest type of railway station building the Papanui Railway Station compares with is (to use Paul Mahoney's classification system) the Troup Period Type "B" & "C" station. It is not the intention of this assessment to assert categorically that the Papanui Railway Station belongs, without doubt, to this type. It is a well known fact that even with Troup's standard designs there was considerable local variation in plan and style. There is, however, nothing in the nomination to suggest an alternative view; the extract enclosed with the nomination from the Station Building Types, Papanui Railway Station File, Heritage Files, Christchurch City Council, does not categorise the Papanui Railway Station as a Vogel Period station as claimed in the nomination. On the contrary the extract simply describes the history of New Zealand Railway station standard designs from the Vogel to the Troup era.

For purely comparative purposes, the best railway station that Papanui compares with is the Troup Period Type B and C Rangiora Railway Station built about 1906. This is not an Historic Places Trust registered historic place. Rangiora has the same gable-ended main building with boxed eaves and chimneys located in the roof ridgeline, plus a second partially gabled platform verandah running the full length of the main building, as is found at Papanui Railway Station. Mahoney describes Rangiora as being "the wider of the two standard Troup gable designs" of this type, and specifically refers to this type as "Type C." The Rail Heritage Trust has classified the Rangiora Station "B", and identifies it as a Troup Vintage Station. As the place originally had a Marseilles tiled roof (now replaced by corrugated iron) and other "decorative embellishments" this latter classification is no doubt correct, but it raises the question as to whether or not the Papanui station originally had a Marseilles roof. A photograph taken in 1932 shows that it had a corrugated iron roof then, so without further research it would appear reasonable to assume that Papanui did not have quite the same standard of embellishment as Rangiora and therefore sits well with a plain Type "C" classification until further research suggests otherwise.

The sample of 18 registered buildings that was surveyed contains only 4 places identified as Troup Type B buildings and no places identified as Troup Type C buildings. Registration of the Papanui Railway Station would therefore extend the register by including a representative example, if not of a Troup Type C station building, then of a prototype Troup Period B & C Type station.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1900 -

Completion Date

1st November 1997

Report Written By

Wayne Nelson

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern region office

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.