Tuesday, June 19, 2012

#1850 ... Celebration Cookies

The Wellington Railway Station has marked its 75th birthday in style with cake, music and a steamy blast from the past. The station opened in 1937 and was then the country's largest building and one of its first seismic proofed structures. It is now New Zealand's busiest railway station, with more than 40,000 people passing through on a weekday. Four trains representing the past 75 years of commuter services in Wellington were on display at the station platforms today - a steam train, an English Electric, a Ganz Mavag and a Matangi train. Lunch hour commuters were treated to a hot lunch straight off the steam train's coal shovel. Steam train driver Phil Wagener, 63, has been involved with trains for 46 years and said it was important to recognise the history while looking forward to the future. ''Rail is on such a rise at the moment. It's wonderful to see the station actually recognised.'' He said cooking bacon and eggs was a common practice on the train and they often whipped up sausages and onions too. ''We don't starve.'' Early morning passengers didn't miss out either. They were greeted with music and a morning tea of cake and muffins. The building was designed by W. Gray Young from Wellington architectural firm Gray Young, Morton & Young. The firm had recently finished designing several significant Victoria University buildings including the Stout Building (1930) and Weir House (1930). It was built by Fletcher Building on reclaimed land and when completed was New Zealand's largest building. The Doric columns on the entrance side and vaulted ceilings give it a majestic feeling. The platforms are designed to accommodate up to 12 carriages. Railway reforms in the 1980s left much of the building disused, but new tenants including Victoria University have since been found for parts of the station. New World opened a Metro supermarket in the station in 2006.

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