Station revamp on track
Volunteers plug away at $40,000 Opapa project
The Opapa Railway Station is getting a facelift.
Friends of the Opapa Railway station – a group of volunteers keen to preserve the railway, are working hard on a project to rebuild and preserve the station to its former glory of the late 1960s.
“Unfortunately time has taken its toll and the station building, located between Te Hauke and Te Aute, Hastings, has become vandalised and in need of much maintenance,” says the friends’ secretary/treasurer, Mike Betts.
The 25 volunteers began work on the project in 1994.
One of their first clean-up tasks was to clear the grounds, with wheelbarrow-loads of rubbish being taken to the tip.
A study revealed the building needed re-piling, new weatherboards, minor structural repairs and exterior cladding. The bargeboards and guttering also needing replacing.
The water-tank stand and tank were missing as were light fittings and signs. The platform was overgrown with weeds and the areas north and south of the platform needed plenty of TLC, Mike says.
The inside of the building was much worse, full of rubbish, hay, soot, dirt and bird droppings.
“The door trims were missing, the main entrance was damaged beyond belief, the power to the station was disconnected in 1994 and the electrical switchboard was removed and stolen, as were the light fittings,” Mike says.
“Even the potbelly stove and flue were taken, along with the toilet and sink basin.”
The group has donated thousands of hours and $16,000 toward the project. The overall cost will be $40,000.
Much of the material has been donated by members and merchants. Funding for a lot of the projects has come from members’ subs, grants from the Rail Heritage Trust and the group’s own fundraising activities.
“However, there is still much to be done and we would welcome any assistance from the public with donations of money or materials,” Mike says.
“The community as a whole will benefit from this project and it will also generate increased tourist potential, especially by excursion trains that stop at restored areas of interest. This already features on the Awarua Heritage Trail.”
Tasks to be completed include installing new wiring for lights and power points, painting the roof and minor roof repairs, replacing the south-side window casement assembly, refurbishing the interior and replacing vandalised trimmings and fixtures.
“The Friends of Opapa Railway Station (the group became an incorporated society in 1996) see the project as a challenge and we are slowly meeting it, but would welcome any public assistance,” Mike says.
Members will attend the group’s annual meeting at the station on Saturday, March 31 at 3pm. Anyone is welcome to attend.
Photo caption – ABOVE: Kevin Brewer (with machine) and president Lee Hall, with other members of the Friends of the Opapa Railway Station, during construction of the platform before resealing (left).