Saturday, 16 June 2018

North Island Main Trunk [4]: Wellington Station History

While I am at this very moment creating the map tiles (and will have them finished tonight) for the Tawa end of Johnsonville-Tawa, here is some detail of the history of Wellington Station as depicted on a map. (The tiles for J-T at the Tawa end have taken longer to create not because of the usual size problems with the mosaic, but because of having to work around a bug that crashed Gimp repeatedly until I figured out how to work around it. This lost me about a day. By contrast when it has taken so many hours to export tiles out of the mosaic, this part is proceeding extremely quickly, so much so that the tiles will be finished in a matter of hours rather than days. I may even be able to reconsider having to have a computer with 32 GB of RAM to process the mosaics because 16 GB may prove to be sufficient. I have to do some more testing to try to determine exactly where the resource constraint issues are occurring in Gimp because it seems that is the issue, not the images I am working with.

So WCC has on the Koordinates website some maps of Wellington Central from 1900 made by someone called Thomas Ward and they have a lot of detail about what Wellington used to look like because they have the tracks and structures in the old Wellington railway yard. So this has given me the detail I needed to place the old Thorndon and Lambton railway stations as well as some other detail that will be drawn into the maps in due course as I work my way through the current and historic layouts of the yard.

Here are some renders from the current and historic imagery of Wellington railway yards.

The main part of the modern passenger station and the historic Lambton station which was the NZR passenger station for trains going through the Wairarapa and over the Rimutaka Incline to join the NIMT such as it then was at Palmerston North (prior to 1908). Lambton ceased to exist after the new Wellington station opened in 1937 and this was at the same time as the Tawa Flat deviation came into operation bypassing the old WMR / NIMT line over the hills via Johnsonville.

The main line (NIMT) heading north out of Wellington in 1900 (it was still the WMR then) took quite a different route from the main lines now. Part of the reason for this was that the WMR had its own railway yards which the NZR main line had to clear.

WMR had its own separate station called Thorndon for their trains and after this was taken over by the government the station was used for trains on the NIMT via Johnsonville. The 1900 maps don't show the full layout of the WMR yards so I won't at this time be able to add the full detail, however aerial photos of Wellington yard from 1938 should make it possible to show some of the detail but this of course is post-WMR and as such the yard at that time was not a separate operation. Thorndon Esplanade as a roadway is interesting as it has all disappeared today under the railway and Aotea Quay.

The last two maps show how the main line as it then was headed north out of Wellington. I have had to trace the route shown on the last map and therefore have to assume for now that there really was that incredibly sharp curve just past what is now the motorway bridge to meet the existing alignment of the Johnsonville Branch as this was the WMR/NIMT.