Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy 75th Birthday Wellington Railway Station!



This morning Wellington commuters were pleasantly surprised by a party going on at the Wellington Train Station. There were balloons and kiwi music and a big long table filled with cupcakes, all to celebrate the station's 75th birthday. When it opened in 1937, it was New Zealand's largest building and one of the first seismic proofed structures in the country and it is now said to be New Zealand's busiest railway station, with more than 40,000 people passing through on a weekday.
I personally have a certain amount of pride in this beautiful building because my great grandfather, Frederick Bartlet, helped build it during the depression. I know this because, whenever people are being ungrateful and complaining about how "hard" life is these days, my dad chooses one of two stories. There's the one where his father's father arrived in Wellington with a wife, three young children, no job and 10 shilling in his pocket. Then there's the one where his mother's father, Frederick, arrived at the railway construction site as early as possible and worked all day every day without a break because if he put his tools down and turned his back for a second, another man would pick them up and he would be out of a job because that's how desperate things were back then.
So every day when I walk through the station to and from work, I look at the bricks stacked one by one and I remember that my great grandfather helped build that; he helped the economy move forward in extremely trying times by putting a big, solid, earthquake proof building over the heads of his great grandchildren.
[Click photos for sources]

The laying of the foundation stone. Photo: Albert Percy Godber

Circa 1937. Photo: William Hall Raine


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