Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 49, September 2005
By J A T Terry
Waikino Railway Station was on the East Coast Main Trunk Line between the unattended flag station of Owharoa one mile, twelve chains to the north and the officered station of Waihi, three mile sixty-seven chains to the south. Waikino was eight miles sixty chains from Paeroa.
The first sod of the Paeroa - Waihi railway was turned on Friday, 2 March 1900 but before Waikino could be reached, two major works had to be carried out, a bridge over the Ohinemuri River and a large tunnel, both at Karangahake. It would not be until 14 November 1904 that the Public Works Department could call tenders for the Waikino Station buildings. The contract was awarded to H Butler of Waihi, who completed the work on 26 April 1905. It consisted of the station building, a goods shed, thirty feet by twenty feet and a gent's urinal. The contract price was £487. The line was officially opened on 9 November 1905 and, as from Friday 10 November, goods and passenger traffic were carried. In addition to the buildings, there was a passenger platform with a cart road leading to it, a loading bank and two loop sidings holding forty-five and twenty-six wagons respectively. A house was provided for the platelayer.
Prior to taking over the line by Railways from 3 April 1905, goods trains operated by the Public Works Department delivered coal to Waikino. The Waikato Argus of 30 March 1905 noted that the railway would supersede the use of about seventy draught horses. The Waihi Gold Mining Coy had a private siding from the main line thirty chains north of Waikino station, coal being uplifted at the siding and taken by the Company locomotive to hoppers at the plant. The siding had a capacity for thirty-eight wagons. Although the Railways Circular (05/36) of 8 November 1905 giving notification of the opening of the line for regular traffic indicated that the station was 5th class, it differed from the ordinary class of that station *. It had a gable roof in place of a pitched one. There was no ladies waiting room and it had a verandah. A stationmaster was in charge, Mr Hutchinson temporarily filling the position until a permanent appointment was made.
The lack of a ladies waiting room was a cause of concern and in August 1906, following an interview between the local M.P. and the Minister for Railways, approval was given for one. Work commenced in December 1906. It would cost £92 and an addition was also made to the office, taking a section of the lobby. That cost £29.
Sometime between April and August 1907, the tablet system was installed between Paeroa and Waihi, Waikino becoming a permanent tablet station. A tablet porter was added to the staff. In March 1907 permission was granted for the Waihi Gold Mining Coy to connect their office with the railway station by telephone, all costs being borne by the Company.
In August 1908 home signals were provided. On 7 March 1913 the Ohinemuri Gazette reported that Mr Goonan, who had been Chief Clerk at Paeroa, had been appointed Stationmaster at Waikino. From and after 19 September 1915 the Stationmaster was withdrawn, the station now left in charge of the tablet porter.
In 1921 stock yards were erected at a cost of £83 and sheep yards in 1926 costing £71. In 1924 a four-ton crane, which had been at the Mt. Smart quarry ballast pit, was provided.
In 1930, as an economy measure, the position of the tablet porters at Waikino and Karangahake was reviewed. Should both go, there would be an annual saving of £504.9.10. While there was more business at Waikino, from an operating point of view, the retention of Karangahake would give a better division of the area. So Waikino lost out. Effective 3 February 1931, the tablet porter, tablet machines and signals were removed. Waikino became an unattended flag station. However, the two signal levers were left in place. This was a departure from the normal practice, which was for the lever frame to be removed and tablet locks placed on the main to loop points, the points being worked by an adjacent lever. Instead the goose neck point levers remained and the tablet lock was connected to the lever frame from which the tablet released a key to unlock the siding points. From 1933, despite attempts to get the locking arrangements changed, it was not until September 1948, when following the District Signal Engineer describing the system as unique, that approval was given for a change. On 28 January 1949 it was changed to standard tablet locks.
Railway Working Timetables showed that from mid-1940s to late 1950s, the local ganger acted as caretaker of the station.
Early in 1939 the four-ton crane was removed.
In October 1942 it was considered that the accommodation provided at the station building was much in excess of requirements and a shelter shed only would be adequate for traffic and in September 1949, instructions were given that the surplus portion of the building was to be dismantled and used elsewhere. In August 1950, when workshop accommodation was required for the Signals Branch at Frankton, part of the station building was considered. This did not proceed but in connection with a compound being built at Frankton locomotive depot to house single workers, a recreation hut was required. In November 1951 approval was given to transfer a portion of the station building for that purpose. The work was carried out by Mr W J Limmer of Hamilton and completed in March 1952. The only portion remaining of the station building was the fifteen-foot Ladies Waiting Room section which was divided into a Ladies Waiting Room and lobby. The platelayer's house was destroyed by fire in 1950 and replaced by a new one.
The Waihi Gold Mining Coy ceased operations in 1952.
While the station building was hardly used, the goods shed was still in business and in July 1955 the sum of £128 was spent in repairing the roof.
In November 1957 the ladies and gent's toilets were dismantled and as from and including Monday 29 May 1961, the station was closed to all traffic. In October 1961 railway staff removed the iron from the roof of the goods shed. In January 1962 a tender from a Paeroa resident resulted in the sale to him of the stock yards and what was left of the station building and goods shed. The first two were removed by February 1963 but it was not until October 1963 that removal of the goods shed was complete. The loop lines were taken up and Waikino station was no more.
* No other stations in New Zealand were built quite like those at Waikino and Waihi. Station historian Paul Mahoney considers this is linked to a period of transition in station design in the early 1900s. Troup had gained a position in Head Office where he was able to greatly influence station architecture; he moved to make station designs more modern and attractive. The old classes 'one' to 'seven' station standard designs dating from 1872 were officially superseded by a new set of standard designs. While Troup is best remembered for the elaborate wooden stations that resulted, like the one at Mercer, he even transformed the humble standard shelter shed design by adding eaves and heavy facing boards on all sides. The Waikino and Waihi stations seem to be an attempt by Troup to replace the old 'class 5' standard station, which had a pitched roof, with a new, more attractive design with a gable roof and verandah. At the time Troup may have envisaged developing three standard gable roof designs; 'A' at twelve feet wide, 'B' at sixteen feet wide and 'C' at twenty feet wide. As it was, the 'B' and 'C' types became new official standards. But the 'A' type as finally adopted, did not reflect the prototypes at Waikino and Waihi but was a more humble pitched roof station, merely an upgraded 'Class 5'. It seems that the railways were not prepared to spend extra money required to build more elaborate type 'A' stations.
NZ Herald, Waikato Times, Waikato Argus, Ohinemuri Gazette
District Traffic Manager NZR Auckland file: 290/285/1 Waihi Gold Mines private siding
Signals Branch NZR Frankton file 106 Signalling and Interlocking, Waikino
District Engineer NZR Hamilton Waikino files: 246/1 Station building, 246/4 stock yards, 246/7 Goods shed. Unnumbered File Lists of Assets.