Auckland Railway Station
132-148 Beach Road, Auckland
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 1
Private/No Public Access
29th November 1985
Date of Effect
29th November 1985
Lot 50 DP 189217
The former Auckland Railway Station was one of the most self-consciously monumental public buildings erected in early twentieth-century New Zealand, and remains a powerful statement on the importance of state-run transport in the Dominion (1907-1947). Built by the Public Works Department in 1928-1930, it sits on reclaimed land close to the wharves and replaced a smaller terminal nearer the centre of town (see 'Chief Post Office'). The grand and ornate Beaux Arts-style building was intended to stand as a gateway to the city, and its construction involved the largest independent contract issued in New Zealand at £320,000. Railways were important for the economic development of the country, and were often seen as symbolic of 'progress'.
The building has a symmetrical facade, three storeys high, and is of reinforced concrete construction, faced with brick and granite. It is approached by a sweeping ramp on either side of the building, enclosing a landscaped garden immediately to the front. The building's design - by architects Gummer and Ford, and the railways' Chief Engineer, F. C. Widdop - was based on American models, such as Union Station (Washington) and Pennsylvania Station (New York), which were held to be the most beautiful and luxurious of the time. The Auckland Railway Station maintained these high standards with ornate public spaces and a wide variety of amenities, including waiting rooms, dining rooms, shops and a room for first aid. Underpasses and ramps within the building link it to an extended network of platforms to the rear, which contain elegant concrete canopies and other elements that are an integral part of its original design and function. The building was used, with modifications, as the main point of arrival for rail passengers in Auckland for most of the century. It was sold during the privatisation of the rail network in the 1990s, and has since been converted to student accommodation, although some of the platforms retain their original use.
The Auckland Railway Station is nationally significant as one of the largest and most ornate railway stations in the country. It was one of the most acclaimed structures designed by Gummer and Ford, who were New Zealand's premier architects in the early twentieth century. It has great historical importance for its associations with the public building programme of the 1920s, and with the central role played by the railways in national transport. It illustrates the then strongly held belief that state-run public services were associated with advanced social and political ideas. The building is also a prominent Auckland landmark, of significance for its connection with the surrounding historic landscape. The registered area is particularly valuable for its variety and extent, incorporating contiguous elements to the rear and sides of the building, which demonstrate the importance of the foreshore to the transport network.
Gummer & Ford
The architectural partnership of Gummer and Ford was established in 1923, and became one of national importance.
William Henry Gummer (1884-1966) was articled to W.A. Holman, an Auckland architect, and was elected as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1910. In the period 1908-1913 he travelled in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. During this time he worked for Sir Edwin Lutyens, leading English architect of the time, and for Daniel Burnham in Chicago. Burnham was a major American architect and one of the founders of the influential Chicago School of Architecture. Gummer joined the firm of Hoggard and Prouse of Auckland and Wellington in 1913. In 1914 he was elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, was president of the Institute from 1933-34 and was later elected a life member.
Charles Reginald Ford (1880- 1972) was born in England and served in the Royal Navy. He was later with Captain Scott's 1901-1904 expedition to Antarctica. He trained as an architect working in Wanganui as an engineer. In 1926 he wrote the first treatise on earthquake and
building construction in the English language. Ford was president of the New Zealand Institute of Architects from 1921-22.
Buildings designed by the partnership include the State Insurance Building Wellington, (1940) the Dilworth Building (1926), the Guardian Trust Building and the Domain Wintergardens (1921 and 1928), all in Auckland, and the Dominion Museum (1936) in Wellington. Gummer and Ford were awarded Gold Medals from the New Zealand Institute of Architects for the designs of Auckland Railway Station and Remuera Library.
Gummer was one of the most outstanding architects working in New Zealand in the first half of this century and was responsible for the stylistically and structurally advanced Tauroa (1916), Craggy Range (1919), Arden (1926), and Te Mata (1935) homesteads at Havelock North.
Registration covers the building, its fixtures and finishes, and includes recent modifications. It also includes its conjoining underpass, platforms, platform shelters and other structures. The building lies on reclaimed land in Mechanic's Bay
1901 - 1910
Reclamation of land
1928 - 1930
Construction of Auckland Railway Station
Extension of east wing
1998 - 1999
Internal modifications and conservation
15th August 2001
Report Written By
Rod Clough and Don Prince, 'Quay Park Development: Archaeological Monitoring', Auckland, 1997 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)
J. D. Mahoney, Down at the Station: A Study of the New Zealand Railway Station, Palmerston North, 1987
Geoffrey Thornton, Cast in Concrete: Concrete Construction in New Zealand 1850-1939, Auckland, 1996
Salmond Architects, 'Auckland Railway Station: A Conservation Plan', Auckland, 1989 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)
NZIA Gold Award Winners 1931
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.