Christchurch Station

Year Built


The 1960 Christchurch station was demolished in 2012 after being badly damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes. This page remains as an historical record.


The former Christchurch station, at the time the Science Alive Centre, was demolished following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. It was primarily of Modern design, with elements of Stripped Classicism in the road elevation. The building, cubic in shape, had a structural-steel frame and was finished with bluestone on the base and bricks and white plaster trim above. The piers between the windows were blue terracotta. The road elevation had a main block arranged symmetrically around the entrance. Four storeys high, it had piers or pilasters rising through two floors surrounded by evenly arranged windows. To the west was the clock tower with its line of single-pane windows. Further west were double- and single-storey extensions. A verandah ran for most of the length of this elevation. The building was essentially a three-storey office building with bands of windows set in the brick walls. On the platform side the former signal box projected from the third storey, overlooking the yard. The ground floor had large public spaces with offices upstairs. Extensive additions had been made to the west end of the building by the Science AliveTrust Board.


Christchurch's first station building, the first important station in the country, was built in 1863 for the opening of the initial part of the Christchurch-Lyttelton railway, which opened in its entirety in 1867. This building was replaced in 1877 by a fine neo-Gothic structure built in conjunction with the completion of the Canterbury railways' conversion to narrow (3' 6") gauge. This station served Christchurch for over 80 years, although discussion of a replacement began as early as 1914. Approval was given for a new station in 1936 and what basically became the present building was designed by 1938. Work did not begin until 1953 and the station did not open until 1960. The new station began business at the conclusion of the great passenger rail era and from the late 1960s witnessed the closure of a succession of suburban and local services. Now itself replaced by a new station at Addington, the former station was converted into a science teaching and display area, with office accommodation on upper floors and a cinema at the western end. It was demolished in 2012 as a result of the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.

Architectural Significance

Christchurch was designed in the late 1930s and as such was a very early and successful attempt at Modern public architecture. It was a distinct departure from traditional station design, but by the time it was finished its design was already out-of-date. Its severe, clean lines were tempered by an interesting arrangement of building materials and architectural features, such as the piers.

Historical Significance

The four main centre station buildings together chart the progress made in major station provision in the 20th century. Christchurch was the major South Island rail centre for much of this building’s life, and it had considerable historic interest as the last main-centre station building built in the 20th century.

Town / Landscape Value

With its prominent clock tower, it was a major building on low-rise Moorhouse Avenue


392 Moorhouse Ave, Sydenham, Christchurch 8011

Building Owner


Land Owner

The Crown

Territorial Authority

Christchurch City Council


Main city station


Main South Line


Category A


Number 1848

District Plan


Conservation Plan


Heritage Covenant



Gray Young, Morton & Calder




Landscape /Townscape Setting

Was in low-rise Moorhouse Avenue on the edge of the city centre