Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 45, September 2001
By J A T Terry
When the new Paeroa railway station was opened for business on Monday 31 August 1925, although it provided the travelling public with a more up-to-date station building, it also replaced a station which had been situated in the centre of the town and of greater convenience to the public. It was especially difficult for shoppers arriving by train from Mackaytown or Karangahake who had to resort to either walking into town or taking the local bus.
The possibility of having a flag station somewhere in the vicinity of the Te Aroha road crossing was being sought by the Paeroa Chamber of Commerce, with a result that, in November 1925, the Stationmaster at Paeroa received a deputation from the Chamber who was told to make application in writing. This resulted in a visit later in the month from the Railways District Engineer at Auckland. He pointed out that, to provide a suitable stopping place, it would be necessary to avoid stopping on a grade and to do that, a flag station would be as far away from the centre of town as the present station, so the question of convenience was defeated. In his opinion it was practically impossible to grant the request.
In September 1932, with a petition from the Paeroa Businessmen having been forwarded to the District Traffic Manager at Auckland, requesting a stopping place on the site of the old station, the Chamber of Commerce resolved that it would await the result of the petition before making further representations. However, unbeknown to the residents, the Railways Department had decided that a stopping place would be provided and for some time maintenance gangs had been engaged in building a platform on the site of the old station building. The petitioners were informed that the work was in hand and on its completion all trains on the Paeroa - Bay of Plenty line would stop at the platform, if required.
On 8 October 1932 the District Traffic Manager issued Train Advice Number 1615 with the following notice to Railway staff : "A stopping place has been erected at 43 miles 43 chains near Paeroa township between Paeroa and Mackaytown. On and after Tuesday 11 October 1932, 121, 281, 321 and 343 will stop at this stopping place to pick up passengers and 322, 328 and 348 to set down passengers if requested". The fact that it applied to Bay of Plenty trains only was on account of access being provided on the town side only and if it was to be applied to main line trains, another platform on the opposite side, with road access would be required. The exclusion of main line trains would for some time provide agitation for its provision.
The trains involved were: Departing trains, 343 goods with car to Waihi departing Paeroa 7.10am, 281 mixed to Tauranga (10.10am), 121 express to Taneatua (2.31pm) and 321 goods with car to Tauranga (6.25pm). Arriving at Paeroa, 348 mixed, ex Waihi (9.20am), 322 express from Taneatua (1.10pm) and 328 mixed from Tauranga (4.57pm). The stopping place was not listed in the Railway Working Timetable as a station.
A review showed that for the four weeks ended 7 November 1932, while the number of passengers joining and alighting at the new stopping place was not large, the service was greatly appreciated by the users as it saved a walk, or taking the bus. The reporting officer considered that once the place became better known its use would improve. The District Traffic Manager recommended that the stopping place be named Paeroa Town and included in the Working Timetable.
It was not until 1934 or early in 1935 that the recommendation was acted on. In the Working Timetable of 5 May 1935 it appeared as Paeroa Township, a flag station open for passenger traffic only. No station building was provided.
In 1937, in a scheme to eliminate level crossings, with regard to the Puke Road crossing, the proposal was to provide a subway 5 chains closer to Paeroa town. Instead of keeping the station site which was only 2 chains from the proposed subway, it was suggested a narrow island platform be provided between the Main and Bay of Plenty line, access to be by a ramp from the proposed subway. This failed to find favour with the District Traffic Manager who considered the present site should remain. He stated the provision of an island platform would immediately revise the previous agitation for trains from Frankton to Paeroa, and vice versa, to make a stop at this wayside place and which he desired to obviate.
The level crossing elimination did not proceed and the station remained, but still without a shelter for passengers. In June 1940 it was recommended that Mackaytown station be closed and its shelter shed be removed to Paeroa Township station. Mackaytown was closed to all traffic on 28 July 1940 and on Thursday 3 October the shed was resited at the Township station site, opposite the Paeroa Hotel.
With the opening of Paeroa South station on 20 July 1959, and the closure of Paeroa station to passenger traffic, the Township station was also closed and its name removed from the Working Timetable. Unlike many station buildings at that time when no longer required they were put up for sale by tender, the Township building was to have a new lease of life.
When a new stopping place at Borrell Road (between Omokoroa and Te Puna) was brought into use in December 1959, and a station building required, the Township building was ideal for that purpose. For the next ten years it was to do duty at that station, finally, in 1969, being sold by tender for removal.
Unfortunately, as the Township station file had long since been destroyed, for my information I had to rely on correspondence found on other railway files and reports in the Ohinemuri Gazette.