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Railway building makeover 90% done

24 Mar 2015

STORY / ARTICLE: WAITOMO NEWS – www.waitomonews.co.nz

The makeover stage of the Waitomo District Council’s Te Kuiti railway building restoration project is 90% complete.

For the past six months, contractors have been carrying out exterior restorations and strengthening work to the three buildings on Rora St as well as the track-side canopies.

This phase of the project is expected to be finished by the end of the month.

The aim of the project, which began in 2011, is to re-invigorate and showcase the railway heritage of Te Kuiti while creating a vibrant central hub for the community.

Project manager John de Luca says the third building (brick exterior) required extensive work including constructing an internal timber frame connected to the external brickwork to meet structural strengthening requirements. A new doorway has also been built to improve access.

“Building three is scheduled for completion later this month and it will then be available as community space,” says Mr de Luca.

Once completed, the council will look at how community groups and organisations can best occupy the building.

CAFE/BAR

In the central building (building two) the focus has been on completing the external refurbishment, strengthening the structure and installing water sprinklers; which have also been installed  throughout the other buildings and canopy.

The fireplace inside building two has been removed as it was structurally unsound.

Mr de Luca says an internal wall will also be removed to make way for a more open plan layout.

“Contractors are currently rebuilding a revised internal structure of the chimney with the external appearance matching and utilising the historic brickwork,” he says.

“Council’s intention is to utilise building two as a cafe/bar/restaurant, providing income to offset the ongoing building maintenance.”

The commercial space will be rented to a specialist business owner/operator. The new layout of building two, along with the layout that will connect building one to the i-SITE, have both been approved by the NZ Historic Places Trust.

HERITAGE SITE

The town’s railway station was built in the early 1900s at the time that the North Island Main Trunk Line was completed and Te Kuiti was first developing as a provincial town.

It is one of very few large wooden stations in the country featuring an extensive veranda and elevated platform.

Due to its rarity and rich history, the Historic Places Trust has registered the buildings as a category 2 heritage site of district significance.

Highlighting its significance, the Rail Heritage Trust of NZ considers it the finest surviving example of a standard class B station in the country.

So, to ensure it retains its historical features such as the brick chimney, guidance and approval from the trust is sought during all restoration work.

The next phase of the project to connect building one to the i-SITE and develop it into community space is due to be tendered at the end of April along with the internal development of building two.

FORMER GLORY: Waitomo District Council’s Te Kuiti railway building restoration project featuring a newly installed water sprinkler system (above) and extensive strengthening and restoration work (below and below left) is nearing completion.

New entry door for building three

Railway building restoration work is nearly complete