Oamaru Railway Station (Former)
Humber Street, Oamaru
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
7th April 1983
Date of Effect
7th April 1983
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 23827 (RT OT16A/30)and part of the land described as Pt Esplanade (OT16B/761), Otago Land District, and the building known as Oamaru Railway Station (Former), thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting of 3 September 2015.
Lot 1 DP 23827 (RT OT16A/30) and Pt Esplanade (OT16B/761), Otago Land District
The former Oamaru Railway Station, designed by Railways Department architect George Troup, and opened in October 1900, has architectural and historical significance as a typical station built in major provincial centres around the turn of the twentieth century.
In 1873, the first Oamaru Railway Station was built at the foot of Wansbeck Street, serving as a public works office until the lines began to operate. The first lines to operate were the breakwater line at the harbour, and the section between Oamaru and the Waitaki River, which opened on 27 September 1875. The line up the Waitaki Valley also opened in 1875, the line to Christchurch in February 1877, but it was not until 1878 that the line to Dunedin opened. Trains into Oamaru from the north had a straight run in, but trains from the south had to be reversed from the crossing at Thames Street. In the late 1870s, the town discussed the need for a new station, leading to debates about the best location, but for the time being, the existing station was only enlarged.
There were prolonged discussions about relocating the station to do away with the need to reverse into Oamaru. It was not until 29 October 1900 that the new station on Humber Street was used for the first time. The Humber Street location changed the ‘centre of gravity of the town’, moving business toward the north. The previously bustling Tyne Street area lost much of its energy.
Rail heritage enthusiasts call this station ‘Vintage Troup’, meaning it was built in the first decade of the twentieth century to the design of railway architect George Troup. Oamaru Railway Station has Troup’s trademark style, with its ‘elaborate porte-cochere’ hinting at Troup’s style that would find its full flowering in his 1906 Dunedin Railway Station. The Rail Heritage Trust of New Zealand provides a description of the building which is paraphrased here. It is a long slender building, basically rectangular in plan. The entrance to the street is defined by a gabled porch, with width of a porte cochere [an entrance wide enough for a vehicle], flanked by a verandah with turned timber posts. The gables on the road elevation have decorative infill. There are brick chimneys at intervals along the roof. The platform elevation has a long gabled verandah, supported by rails. The interior has been modified.
In 1908 a ladies' waiting room was added to the building and the same year a footbridge was approved. This footbridge was replaced in 1924 and demolished in 1958. There were few additions to the station building, but many alterations. In particular the 1950s saw many changes to the building interior in an effort to accommodate the expanding staff and functions. Until the mid-1980s Oamaru was an important division point for train crews, but changes in operating methods and a reduction in local traffic led to the withdrawal of station staff in 1990.
Oamaru Railway Station was famous for its large dining room, the largest in the South Island till its closure in 1967. The Christchurch–Dunedin express made a regular 22-minute dinner (lunch) stop here, and for a set price of 2s 6d, travellers could sample delights such as ‘stewed tripe and oysters’, ‘smoked fish with butter sauce’, ‘roast sirloin of beef with Yorkshire pudding’ and ‘compote of pears with boiled custard’. Passenger trains stopped calling at the station in 2002. In 2015, the former Oamaru Railway Station stands as a reminder of Oamaru’s importance on the main trunk line.
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 building added to site
Ladies’ Waiting Room added and footbridge built
Demolished - Other
19th August 2015
Report Written By
K C McDonald, 'White Stone Country', Oamaru, 1962
Gavin McLean, Oamaru History & Heritage, University of Otago Press, Dunedin, 2002
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 Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand