KiwiRail was announced as the winner of the Rail Heritage Trust 2018 Restoration Award for its work in restoring the former Newmarket Railway Station at a new site in Parnell. The Award was presented to Aiman Grace, the KiwiRail project engineer who headed the restoration, by the Trust Chair, Murray King, at the 2018 FRONZ Conference held in Wellington at Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
Designed by renowned railway architect George Troup and built in 1908, Newmarket Railway Station was one of five historic station on the Auckland rail commuter network. The pending electrification of the network meant the building no longer meet the needs of Newmarket, and to preserve the historic structure Auckland Transport decided to relocate it to Parnell for use as a new station. This process began in 2008 when KiwiRail arranged for the building to be cut in half and transported to an off-site location for storage.
In 2014 KiwiRail commissioned Dave Pearson Architects to prepare a restoration design. The project was not without its challenges. KiwiRail had to adapt the design to the Parnell Station configuration whilst retaining the original character and unique features. Then there were the logistics of transporting a large building down the steep and narrow streets of Parnell; careful planning resulted in this being accomplished withou incident other than the need to temporarily remove a carport.
Poor ground conditions at the new site also presented an engineering headache. The station now sits on a bespoke raised grid of structural steel beams spaced specifically to match the building dimensions. The grid also supports the veranda stanchions; these were restored and strengthened or replaced by rails of a similar profile sourced from the Bush Tramway, a rail heritage group based at Puketiro in the Waikato.
Every building component was inspected and its structural integrity assessed. Terra cota roof slats from Portugal mimic the original Marseille tiles and where possible the windows and doors were restored; those beyond saving were replaced by replicas manufactured to the same detail. The building has also reverted to its original design following the removal of modifications made over the decades.
The result is a building where the external structure has been restored in meticulous detail while still showing its age. The time, planning, and work involved in its preservation make Parnell Railway Station a deserving winner of the 2018 Restoration Award.