Dunedin Railway Station

Dunedin Railway Station Dunedin Railway Station Dunedin Railway Station Dunedin Railway Station Dunedin Railway Station Dunedin Railway Station Dunedin Railway Station Dunedin Railway Station

Dunedin Railway Station (1906)

Rail nears its zenith

‘Gingerbread George’ Troup’s magnificent Flemish Baroque-inspired railway station does not (yet?) sit near ‘the last buffers before the Southern Ocean’, as historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto suggests in his book, Millennium. But he is on sounder ground when he writes that one of the world’s great railway stations still makes a striking contribution to a city skyline ‘lined with spires and trimmed with towers, as heavy with human embellishments as an alderman’s robes’. Indeed, it is difficult to argue with his description of the city as ‘a marvellous mirror, reflecting Victorian and Edwardian Britain from as far away as it is possible to get, through almost the whole length and density of the core and carapace of the earth’.

The historian is not alone in singing Troup’s great pile’s praises. In 2006 the travel guide DK Eyewitness included the station in its list of the 200 wonders of the world. In 2013 Condé Nast Traveller magazine placed it on its list of the world’s top 16 railway stations.

Dunedin’s railway station was New Zealand’s busiest when it opened. Exuberant in its Marseilles tiles, Central Otago basalt, Ōamaru stone and Peterhead granite, it oozes confidence in a railway system that was nearing its zenith. By using railway labour, transport and materials, Troup kept the cost of the overall project to £120,000 (equivalent to about $21 million in 2020); nevertheless, some Dunedinites thought the lavatories too luxurious!

The station suffered considerably from the 1970s as suburban and branch-line services died. In 1994, 90 years after Minister of Railways Sir Joseph Ward laid the foundation stone under a banner proclaiming, ‘Advance New Zealand Railways’, the city council took possession of the station from the faltering, recently privatised remnant of the railways. Step inside and admire the magnificent tiled booking office. Trains are rare these days, but the one regular passenger train using it is an award-winner, the Taieri Gorge tourist train. The building houses a restaurant, an art gallery and the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, and each year turns head as fashionistas tart up its platform to stage the iD Dunedin Fashion Shows.

Further information

This site is item number 75 on the History of New Zealand in 100 Places list.

Websites

Book

  • J.D. Mahoney, Down at the station, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North, 1987

Community contributions

2 comments have been posted about Dunedin Railway Station

What do you know?

linn

Posted: 20 Mar 2016

Do you have any information about a William Mcconnell who worked on the new railway line in Dunedin in the 1920's

linn

Posted: 20 Mar 2016

Do you have any information about a William Mcconnell who worked on the new railway line in Dunedin in the 1920's