Railway Station in spotlight
Palmerston North Railway Station stirs back into life next month with a double anniversary.
KiwiRail's nationwide celebration of the 150th anniversary of rail in New Zealand rolls into town on Wednesday, October 9, and on Sunday, October 6, friends of the Railway Station are hosting a public meeting to plan ways to mark the 50th anniversary of the Tremaine Ave station and rejuvenate the building.
But Mayor Jono Naylor poured cold water on the group's goal at the Manawatu Standard mayoral debate this week.
"Six years ago we fixed it up, then it all turned to custard again. The kindest thing would be to demolish it."
He was responding to a question of the mayoral candidates posed by Margaret McKenzie, one of the organisers of the public meeting.
"I was really cross about that," she said. "Six years ago . . . he was just trying to curry favour to get elected. I think it's hypocritical.
"I haven't given up."
Mrs McKenzie had a success early this year, when KiwiRail responded to her concerns about the state of the building with some paint, planter boxes and a tidy-up of the courtyard. But she wants to take the renewal further, with hopes for a cafe, art gallery and collection of railway memorabilia that will attract people to the building.
She said the first step would probably be to set up an incorporated society that could apply for grants.
The building already has tenants, including Wholesale Blinds and Curtains, Palmerston North Cadet Unit (who sublet to After School Adventures), Telstra Clear and Chorus. Other parts are used for KiwiRail operations and training, and the rest is being evaluated for future use by KiwiRail.
Touted as the most modern railway station in the Southern Hemisphere at the time, it was opened on October 21, 1963, with 2000 people attending. Its opening marked the end of the railway through The Square and the opening of the Milson deviation.
KiwiRail has delved an extra century back into the history of New Zealand railways, with a travelling exhibition showcasing rail in New Zealand visiting 12 locations in September and October.
Keeping NZ on the Move: The Exhibition Express, will feature four individually-themed educational containers hauled by a locomotive representing rail's journey from 1863 to today, KiwiRail's scenic journeys and contribution to tourism, rail safety, and the role KiwiRail plays in moving the economy.
The public meeting about the railway station will be at 4pm on Sunday, October 6, at the station.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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