Wellington Railway Station celebrates 75th

02:24, Jun 19 2012
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A steam train visits Wellington Railway Station on the 75th birthday of the station.
Train birthday 1
Tim Kerwin cooks bacon and eggs in the coal burner of a steam train while visiting Wellington Railway Station on its 75th birthday.
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From left, Lois Martell, Anita Martell and Joy Petrovic enjoy bacon and eggs cooked in the coal burner of a steam train while visiting Wellington Railway Station on its 75th birthday.
Train birthday 1
Engineer Phil Wagener leans against a steam train at Wellington Railway Station on its 75th birthday.
Train birthday 1
A railway enthusiast wears a rail-themed hoodie at Wellington Railway Station on its 75th birthday.

The Wellington Railway Station has marked its 75th birthday in style with cake, music and a steamy blast from the past.

The station opened in 1937 and was then the country's largest building and one of its first seismic proofed structures. It is now New Zealand's busiest railway station, with more than 40,000 people passing through on a weekday.

Four trains representing the past 75 years of commuter services in Wellington were on display at the station platforms today - a steam train, an English Electric, a Ganz Mavag and a Matangi train.

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Railway platform at Wellington Railway Station, circa 1940.
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The crowded ticket hall at Wellington Railway Station, circa 1940s. Military personnel are among the crowd.
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Wellington Railway Station and surrounding area in 1936.
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Wellington Railway Station from Bunny Street. Photographed for the Railways Department in 1939.
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Wellington Railway Station, circa 1937.
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The laying of the foundation stone of Wellington Railway Station, with the foundations completed and steel framework under construction. The old Lambton Station is visible to the left and the Hotel Cecil is behind that.

Lunch hour commuters were treated to a hot lunch straight off the steam train's coal shovel.

Steam train driver Phil Wagener, 63, has been involved with trains for 46 years and said it was important to recognise the history while looking forward to the future. ''Rail is on such a rise at the moment. It's wonderful to see the station actually recognised.''

He said cooking bacon and eggs was a common practice on the train and they often whipped up sausages and onions too. ''We don't starve.''

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One commuter who was loving the show was Joy Petrovic, 59, who came to the station especially to see the train.

''We read about it in the paper and decided to come down. It's wonderful.''

Ms Petrovic said the bacon lunch was an added bonus.

Early morning passengers didn't miss out either. They were greeted with music and a morning tea of cake and muffins.

The building was designed by W. Gray Young from Wellington architectural firm Gray Young, Morton & Young. The firm had recently finished designing several significant Victoria University buildings including the Stout Building (1930) and Weir House (1930).

It was built by Fletcher Building on reclaimed land and when completed was New Zealand's largest building. The Doric columns on the entrance side and vaulted ceilings give it a majestic feeling.

The platforms are designed to accommodate up to 12 carriages.

Railway reforms in the 1980s left much of the building disused, but new tenants have since been found for parts of the station.

New World opened a Metro supermarket in the station in 2006.

Related: The romance of rail is unforgettable

The Dominion Post