The Waihi station building itself was constructed from a variation of the standard NZR plans known as “Troup B” type.
The architect Gorge Troup was born in London in 1863 arrived in this country in 1884, working in an architectural capacity for the NZR from 1888 to 1925. Most New Zealand Railway buildings designed by him continued to be built until 1945. George Troup is better known for his design and construction of the Dunedin Railway Station still in use today.
Originally the Waihi station was constructed with an open public area where the bell hangs today, with the ladies restrooms to the right and luggage rooms where the modern toilet facilities are today. Doors were added and other modifications were made until 1950. At this time the arrangement was reversed with the ladies restrooms & the luggage area changing ends of the station, with a further 3 meters being added to the building.
Historic Place classification
Today the buildings are classified as Category II by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and bear a B classification from the Rail Heritage Trust.
'Narrow Gauge' Rail
The Government set the gauge for the developing New Zealand Railway system as 3’ 6” between the rails. This was considered a cheaper practice so saving money by reducing the cost of the railway formations, but at least was one gauge and thus avoided problems facing other countries with the proliferation of different gauged systems.
Internationally this is considered 'Narrow Gauge' with the international standard gauge being 4’ 8.5”
There were no fixed signals at Waihi until 1910 when a 'home' semaphore signal was erected at the north end of the yard, while in 1927 another such signal was erected at the south end of the yard for trains traveling through Waihi from the new lines to the south. Levers that are still situated at the northern end of the station-building platform operated both signals. A wire cable was used between the Gainstroke (throw over) type levers to the distant signals by pulleys.
During darkness the signals were lit with a kerosene lamp behind each spectacle lens, but these were replaced by electric lights in 1950.
The goods shed is the standard 'through road' from the New Zealand Railways 1904 NZR Engineers Notebook Plan (Coom 1904:16). The stockyards were also an integral part of the railway scene in the early part of the 1900s. Both sheep and cattle yards were erected in 1907, with a pig version erected in 1927. In 1935 the yards were too small, so the present yards were constructed with alterations being made in 1952. The sheep yards were closed in 1970 with the cattle yards following suit in 1971. The land was sold in 1972 and the only visible remaining parts are a small section of the steel rail cattle yards. Beyond the visible steel yards and the present fertilizer shed, was the line for the Waihi Gold mining Company’s rake line used to carry gold bearing ore down to the Waikino Battery for processing.
Waihi station becomes the terminus
Once opened the Waihi Station became the terminus for the next 22 years until the next stage to Athenree was opened to revenue earning traffic in 1924. When our station opened, it was handling 5 return trains daily to Paeroa, and on closure in 1978, 9 return trains passed through Waihi.
To handle this traffic through the Waihi yards, which initially could contain 97 wagons off the main line, in 1907 this capacity was increased to 185 wagons with the addition of additional shunts. The sidings were altered for various reasons in 1928, 1935 and finally in 1952 to increase the yard capacity to 214 wagons off the main line.
For safety reasons tablet working was introduced between Waihi and Paeroa around 1906 with a tablet machine installed in the station for the Waihi-Waikino section. In 1930 with the change in status of the Waikino and Karangahake Station, a second tablet machine was required. There were never more than two tablet machines at Waihi, as the tablet system was not extended beyond this station.
Today we do not need tablet operation or signals with the line considered 'open' as we only run one train at a time. The only other consideration is the operation of the track gang’s jigger and we are bigger than they are. Besides we usually know where he is and take precautions.
The unusual style derrick crane alongside the train has it’s own it own life story to be told. When the railway yard was opened, there was no crane, so one was installed in 1906. However the 4-ton crane was removed in 1928 and replaced in 1940 by a much smaller one and a half ton version. In 1952 the present 4-ton model was installed after shifting from Rotorua.