The Ashburton Railway station was once a social hub of the town: a place where goods and people moved from one place to another.
There were two earlier stations – the first was built in 1874, when it took 72 minutes to get from Christchurch to Rakaia, with the first load of grain taken to Christchurch in March.
The second station was built in 1917 and opened in June of that year.
The second station was designed by Sir George Alexander Troup of New Zealand Railways fame.
Troup’s train stations
George Troup (1863 -1941) was an interesting man.
He was born in London in 1863 but grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland and trained as an architect and engineer before coming to NZ in 1884.
He designed the Dunedin railway station in 1906 and countless other smaller stations, bridges and viaducts.
He designed railway stations of different classes: A, B and C.
The Ashburton railway station was a class B station, also known as a Troup vintage station. The Oamaru railway station is identical.
Troup was also the 23rd Mayor of Wellington and had the nick name “Gingerbread George” apparently because the Dunedin railway station looked like a gingerbread house and based on the Flemish Renaissance style.
Today there is no railway station with transport by car and truck but interestingly there were ideas for an underground railway system put forward by Borough Town planner Mac McPherson in 1964/5 and later revived as a possible centennial project in 1978 (Ashburton Guardian September 16, 1980).
New historical objects and archives are frequently donated to the Ashburton Museum and a recent acquisition was a red painted roof vent from the George Troup Ashburton railway station which was demolished in 2013.
A very recent acquisition were the plans for the renovations of the station drawn up in January 1991.
On these plans you can see that not all the vents were real, several of them were false presumably for aesthetic reason.
By Glenn Vallender
This post was modified for this blog and was originally published in the Ashburton Guardian, 5th of September 2020.
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