Top Award for Ormondville Rail Preservation Group

Several years of hard work by the Ormondville Rail Preservation Group Inc. were recently acknowledged when they were announced the winners of this year’s Rail Heritage Trust of NZ Restoration Award.

The award was presented to Mr Tom Williamson, President and Treasurer of the group, at this year’s Federation of Rail Organisations of NZ (FRONZ) Conference in Auckland.

Mr Williamson said it was great recognition of the work they had done over the past three or four years restoring the goods shed at Ormondville station, a building that is one of the oldest heritage buildings in the Tararua District.

"A lot of man hours have gone into the restoration; it’s been a massive job. When I inherited the project from the guy who got the initial lotteries grant to do the work, I wondered what on earth I had to do next, because I am an amateur.

"The problem was the goods shed was built on a swamp. So what we had was a 130 year old building that had gradually sunk onto the ground. The piles had rotted away, and it was sitting on its base plate on wet ground, which was the main problem.

"It was apparent to me we needed a qualified architect to do the job. In this day and age of resource consents and building consents, there’s a lot involved.

"We had done as much as we could as volunteers in an amateur way, now we needed the professionals.

"That’s when we acquired a public manager, Paul Cummack, who came in and worked with myself and another volunteer to sort out the budget and engineering solutions.

"Everything had to be run back through the lotteries board of course, and then we had to hire local contractors and make sure they did the job properly."

Mr Williamson says at one time there were 1200 rural railway stations in New Zealand, today there are six and Ormondville is the most complete.

The group is now working through a new lotteries grant process, to enable them to redo some of the work they did on the station building twenty years ago, a process Mr Williamson says may take some time.

To show people what has been done at Ormondville, the group is hoping to run a public event early next year in association with the Pahiatua Rail Car Group.

"We want to show people what we have done here, and make Tararua people aware of their oldest heritage buildings, which are actually their assets. We want to promote what this precinct actually represents."

- written by Barbara Gillham

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