Railway station officially opened
Ormondville Railway Station is officially open.
Yesterday afternoon Wairarapa MP Wyatt Creech unveiled a plaque and Rail Heritage Award and officially declared the station open, something that never happened when it was built in 1880.
In that year, the nearest it got to an official opening was on August 9 when a few men and children congregated on the platform out of curiosity to see the new railway manager, the resident engineer and a few other passengers alight from the first official train.
“The big crowd present today (more than 350) redresses the original lack of an opening ceremony,” Tararua mayor Bill Bly said in his address.
Mr Creech said the large crowd attracted shows the interest in the work of the Ormondville Rail Preservation Group and it is a tribute to them.
It is hard to imagine that most of New Zealand’s early railway lines were all constructed by men with picks and shovels, he said.
The absolute authenticity of the restoration work on the station showed a “100 per cent genuine old time piece of New Zealand.”
Tranz Rail managing director Dr Francis Small said the station and precinct were alive again and it was one of the best examples of a restoration project in New Zealand.
Today the role of the railway and society has changed. The rail passenger market caters largely for the leisure traveller, trains no longer stop at every station and many have disappeared.
Today passengers have onboard services such as the buffet car which would once have been provided at key stations.
“Tranz Rail makes no apology today when it says its business is to run a commercial transport company that answers the needs of our customers and shareholders,” Dr Small said.
However, it also recognised the importance railway has played in New Zealand’s history and, where appropriate, to preserve examples of that history.
He paid tribute for the diligent research, organisation and sheer hard work to produce a station which reflects the spirit and pride people in the community have.
Arrival of the railway last century allowed saw-milling and farming to prosper and transformed the district; “laying the foundation of our economic base and is a very significant part of the district’s heritage,” Mr Bly said.
Start of the preservation project dates back to 1986 when the goods shed had closed and tenders were called for its removal.
Residents who appreciated its value campaigned to retain it as part of an historic Ormondville railway station precinct — once the centre of a thriving township.
Being able to retain the shed on site under lease was a New Zealand first.
Photo captions –
The Ormondville railway station platform was crowded yesterday for the official opening.
Top, seated are the official speakers Tranz Rail managing director Dr Francis Small (left), Ormondville Rail Preservation Group president Fred Playle, Wairarapa MP Wyatt Creech and Tararua Mayor Bill Bly. Addressing the crowd is MC and chairman of the Rail Heritage Trust, Euan McQueen, Wellington.
Above, Tranz Rail managing director Dr Francis Small who started with the railways 30 years ago as an engineering cadet.
Left, Wairarapa MP Wyatt Creech cuts what he describes as a typical rural ribbon (a piece of colour co-ordinated bailing twine) to unveil the plaque and Rail Heritage Trust award.