The following is a brief report prepared last year at about the time it seemed as if the Wiri building was, at last, coming to adorn the Waititiko station platform at MOTAT 2. This has been an exercise of procurement underway since 2011 when the building was to become redundant and removed from between the Main Lines at Wiri to make way for track alterations and electrification.
Left: The building complete with chimney, with a special passenger train heading north on the Up Main Line, late 1950s. Photo: courtesy Ian Jenner. Right: Wiri station building mid 80s. Wiri ballast pit beyond. Photo: Courtesy Ian Bates.
A single line Railway between Penrose and Mercer was opened for traffic in 1875 as part of the planned North Island Main Trunk Railway to Wellington.
In 1914 with a small rural community to serve in the Wiri area 12m 14ch (23km) south of Auckland, adjacent to the Wiri Mountain, a small station yard was formed and a station building constructed.
Wiri, with basalt rock located just below the surface and basalt scoria in the face of the mountain nearby, was to be an ideal location for future ballast supply, eventually replacing the Mt Albert and Mt Smart ballast pits.
The station building was small by normal standards - 3.35m wide by 14.3m long - and unusual in that the verandahs were supported by the building framework and not by lightweight rails shaped to fit the underside of the verandah, attached to the outer wall and then bedded in the platform. It was all timber construction on timber piles, clad in rusticated weatherboard, with a corrugated iron roof.
The building was divided into three parts - the waiting room, office, and store. The waiting room seats are still in place. The verandahs appear to have been built on both sides of the building at the time the station was constructed to suit the future duplication.
Duplication of the railway between Papatoetoe to the north and Papakura to the south 8m 27ch (13.38km) was completed on the 29 March 1931 following the completion of the Auckland Westfield Deviation (November 1930) and the building of the ‘new’ Auckland Railway Station.
In 1931 Wiri became an Island station, located between two Main Lines, with the construction of the new Down Main on the Eastern side for southbound trains, and the old Main on the Western side becoming the Up Main for northbound (Auckland) trains. Pedestrian access was by a footpath from Wiri Station Road level crossing to the south.
Wiri was a minor stopping place for local passenger services and was retained as a non timetabled station until 2005. However, the building was retained because of the signalling equipment installed within to operate points and signals for entry into the east and west yards, the ballast pit, and industrial lines north and south, and latterly the sidings serving the inland port for the Ports of Auckland.
With further expansion of the rail yard imminent and the straightening out of the Main Lines to make room for a maintenance facility for Auckland’s electric trains and extensive changes to the track system to the north for the New Manukau Line and electrification, the signalling system in the Wiri building became redundant. The change over to the new system was scheduled for 2011 requiring the whole building to be removed.
in 2011 the station was taken over by the Papatoetoe Railway Station Trust and relocated to a site on Cavendish Drive, Puhinui, where the floor joist and bearers were replaced and other repair work carried out.
In 2014 the Council required the Cavendish Drive site and the station was removed to the Puhinui Reserve where it has been in “storage” ever since.
In 2021 the PRST decided that they no longer needed the building and agreed to hand it over to MOTAT. The Deed of Gift of the building to MOTAT was eventually signed on 12 April 2022. Currently, planning is underway to transport the building from Puhinui to MOTAT.
Interesting Dates in the Life of the Wiri Station
Station Building constructed (Cost; 380 pounds, 0 shillings and 1 penny).
Platform Front constructed and backfilled.
Platform Ashphalted (400ft x 15ft) (120m x 4.5m)
Loading bank for freight constructed.
1917: Quarry on western side of yard developed and crusher installed.
1918: Water pump supplied for station ex Towai.
1931: Platform asphalted Down Main side (following duplication of lines).
1968: Internal alterations to accommodate flush toilet for staff, and connect to new septic tank.
1970: Verandahs cut back to improve track clearance for containers
2005: Closed as a passenger station.
2011: Removed from between Main Lines for electrification work.
Rail Heritage Trust recommends building be relocated to MOTAT.
Taken over by Papatoetoe Railway Station Trust and relocated to a site on Cavendish drive.
2012-13: Foundation work carried out by PRST with funding from ASB and Local Board.
2014: Council requires building removed from Cavendish site, meeting MOTAT, AC and PRST.
2019: Doubts as to whether PRST will complete restoration at Puhinui Reserve.
2021: Ownership of building transferred to MOTAT.
by Richard Croker
Below Top Row Left to Right: Graffiti Canvas - Wiri Station Building 28 June 2005, Down Main (east ) side, looking derelict but housing essential signalling equipment. Closed as a passenger stop, track raised above platform level; Interesting Verandah supports; Wiri Station Name board (Photos: RBC 28/6/2005);
Middle Row Left to Right: Floor joist replacement completed by Papatoetoe Railway Station Trust; Work at a standstill. December 2014 (Photos: Bruce Wild); Wiri building prior to shutting down of signal panel and relocation from between the two Main Lines (Photographer unknown).
Bottom Row: The Wiri building located at the Puhinui Reserve. December 2020. Photos: RBC.