Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 51, September 2007
(by J. A. T. Terry)
Wharepoa Road was an unttended flag station on the Thames branch line between Hikutaia and Omahu, 6 miles 57 chains from Paeroa. There was no station when the line was extended from Paeroa to Thames on December 19, 1898.
Following a petition from local residents in August, 1899, the Thames County Council received a letter from the General Manager of Railways in reply to the council's letter of July 15 that year. In it the Minister of Railways regretted that he could not see his way to comply with the request for the station as the branch line between Thames and Paeroa was amply provided for with railway stations (Ohinemuri Gazette 5.8.1899).
In Parliament (Hansard 16.7.1902) the MP for Ohinemuri asked the Minister for Railways when the station he promised for Wharepoa Road would be completed. The Minister had visited the locality and evidently had made a promise for a station. The reply was that the work would be put in hand.
Indeed it had. By Head Office circular 02/45 on October 15, 1903, the General Manager advised that from Monday, October 13, a flag station for passengers, parcels and goods traffic would be opened.
Accommodation provided was a shelter shed with privy and urinals and a passenger platform. There was accommodation on a loop siding for 27 wagons. Exclusive of the loop siding it had cost 450 pounds, the earth works of 360 pounds being the major expenditure. Trains stopped when required to pick up or set down passengers. No goods shed was ever provided.
Promises by a Minister must have at times annoyed the Railways for in the case of Wharepoa Road it was only 1mile 51 chains from Hikutaia and 1mile 4 chains from Omahu. Each stop added to train running expenses.
In 1903, at the cost of 63 pounds, an approach road was made to the station. On March 21, 1922, the main loop points at each end were tablet locked, the Hikutaia-Puriri tablet being used for this purpose, trap points were provided. When the tablet method of control was introduced on the branch line in December, 1914, Wharepoa was not made a tablet station.
In 1910 a loading bank was provided at a cost of 10 pounds and in 1922 a storeroom, costing 64 pounds was added to the station building.
When the tablet was removed from the branch line in August, 1930, the tablet locks were removed and the frame levers locked with standard points locks.
In August, 1934, approval had been given to remove the latrines when convenient. This was done. In September, 1950, the Foreman of Works considered the shelter too large and in October, 1951 he was instructed to reduce the station building to the size of a shelter shed. The storeroom, added in 1922, was removed.
Passenger services on the line ceased on March 28, 1951. In August, 1957, the shelter shed was demolished and the platform removed.
In a report on unattended flag stations dated January, 1964, the Traffic Manager at Frankton, Hamilton, recommended that the station be closed to all traffic and the crossing loop and loading bank be removed. Consignments in wagon lots consisted of seasonal traffic mainly in bulk lime and fertiliser with occasional inwards wagons of coal and shooks for the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company's cheese factory at Wharepoa.
Road competition in the area in regard to the transport of livestock and general goods was strong. The Traffic Manager regarded the prospects of a substantial increase in rail traffic to and from the station as small. Cheese from the factory was now loaded at Hikutaia. Over a 12-month period the number of wagons placed or lifted at the station averaged two per week.
In November, 1965, investigations were carried out concerning the necessity for the retention of the unattended stations on the branch line. In respect of Wharepoa Road for the period March 5, 1964, to April 30, 1965, only five wagons of lime were received in 1964 and in 1965 nil. There was no outward traffic.
During the period under review, the Wharepoa cheese factory had ceased operations and its activities transferred to the Hikutaia factory. The dairy company had no objections to the closing of the station.
The investigation committee considered that the station had no future rail traffic potential, owing, in the main, to the fact that the farming area served by the station was well settled and that Hikutaia and Matatoki should be regarding as the nearest railing point for Wharepoa Road. The committee considered there would be little inconvenience caused to the few local farmers who received their lime by rail and that the station be closed to all traffic and the siding and loading bank be removed.
By General Manager circular memo 1966/28 of June, 1966, as from 12.01 a.m. on Sunday, July 17, 1966, the station was closed to all traffic. On July 25, 1966, instructions were issued to remove the loading bank and the loop. This was the end of Wharepoa Road Station.
(References addition to the ones mention: Resident Engineer, Hamilton, file 139/2 Thames branch; 208/1 Wharepoa Road Station; Signal and Electrical Inspector, Frankton, file 100/1 Signalling Thames branch.)