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Dunedin railway station to celebrate centenary

Media release – September 13, 2006

Tourism wonder of the world – Dunedin railway station – to celebrate centenary next month

New Zealand’s most photographed building the Dunedin railway station will celebrate its centenary next month.

The beautiful old stone Flemish Renaissance style railway station has been Station has been ranked among the world's '200 must-see places' by a leading travel guide.

According to DK Eyewitness Travel, the Dunedin railway station is up there with the Sydney Opera House, Colosseum in Rome and India's Taj Mahal as one of the wonders of the world. The station is the guide's only New Zealand listing.

The railway station is one of NZ’s most popular tourist attractions. Hundreds of visitors pour daily over the opulent neo-Gothic architecture and the Royal Doulton mosaic entrance floor which has featured 725,760 Majolica porcelain tiles and stained glass windows of locomotives.

Today centenary event organiser Helen McLeod said the highlight of the Labour weekend celebrations will be a cavalcade of the great old steam locos.

The Taieri Gorge Railway, which operates out of the station these days, has organised a flurry of old steam train trips to Middlemarch, Sawyers Bay, Invercargill, Palmerston, Invercargill, Oamaru and Christchurch.

``This a milestone celebration not only in the history of New Zealand but worldwide in terms of commemorating a global architectural masterpiece,’’ Ms McLeod said.

``The station was such a major part of people’s lives for the first 80 years but it’s great it’s still being admired and being regularly used for train trips and special events as the annual Dunedin fashion show.’’

The station was regarded as the jewel in the New Zealand Railways crown, with its size, grandiose style and rich embellishments.

Built by the railways in 1906, the station became the heart of Dunedin transport, is now owned by the city council and is regarded as the symbol of Dunedin's pioneering spirit and the link with the rest of NZ for 100 years.

By the main entrance is the foundation stone and the Passchendaele Plaque which was carried on locomotive Ab608 as a memorial to railwaymen who died for their country in the Great War of 1914-18.

Of special interest is the interior design of the main foyer. On the floor are 57 floor panels made up of mosaic tiles with a small English steam engine. Other panels show phases of railway working: rail wagons, wheels, signals, engines and the letters NZR (for New Zealand Railways).

The Dunedin Station was the largest and the busiest in the country in the early part of last century. The cost was £120,500 ($241,000). It recently underwent a $5 million facelift.

Although not as busy as in its heyday at the beginning of last century, about 4000 rail and suburban bus passengers used the station each weekday until suburban rail services were discontinued in 1982.


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