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Petone's First 100 Years (1940)


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The foundations of prosperity in the Petone District have been strengthened from early times by the support of the railways.
A line from Pipitea through Petone to Lower Hutt was commenced by the English firm of John Brogden and Sons, in August, 1872, and was opened on April 14th, 1874.
It was the first Government railway in the Province and the second line in the North Island. The line to Silverstream commenced public operation on December loth, 1875, and the Upper Hutt section followed just seven weeks later. Notwithstanding tremendous engineering difficulties, trains were running to Featherston by October, 1878.
In the early 'seventies the Government decided to build the Wellington workshops at Petone, and in August, 1876, about 6 2/3 acres were bought for this purpose at a cost of £662 10s. 0d.
Mr. W. J. Riddler, of Petone, built for the Government a carriage repair building, an engine-shed (1877) and other buildings (1879) for a total cost of £4,341. Steady expansion continued until in 1925 it was realised that the site was inadequate.
A new site at Woburn was chosen, and the move was carried out during 1928, and 1929, at a capital cost of £779,280.
During the last years of operation on the old Petone site, the works covered 17 acres, the yearly output being £386,186, and the 954 employees received an annual total of £195,606 in wages.
Co-incident with the erection of the Woburn shops, was the building of the Petone-Woburn-Waterloo branch line of 2 miles 65 chains, which was completed in May, 1927. Another line was run to the new shops, and was extended nearly a mile to the Borough boundary. This was taken over in 1929 by Working Railways.
The Waterloo line boasted substantial overbridges in place of crossings, and a sixteen plate-girder span bridge over the Hutt River. A new procedure in the Dominion was the Government purchase of 682 acres for £181,000. By April, 1927, sales were valued at £231,488, and 213 acres were left for public disposal. Most of the construction cost was recouped from the proceeds.
From 1904 to 1911, the straightening and duplication of the Wellington- Hutt railway was carried out for £331,068, and in 1906, Petone received a new railway station.
The route received the first installation of automatic signalling in New Zealand in 1922—an indication of the importance of the Dominion's busiest suburban route.
The number of season tickets issued during the 1938–39 financial year at Petone was 115,699, second only to Wellington's 182,135. Petone was placed fourth to Wellington, Auckland, and Palmerston North in the number of outward passenger journeys from North Island stations. Outward passengers and goods traffic revenue averaged over £2,109 weekly—placing Petone seventh for New Zealand.
A further contribution to Petone's advancement was made when in 1928 and 1929 the Department took over the road motor passenger service. For the year ended March 31st, 1939, the 57 vehicles covered 1,835,319 miles. The total expenditure on the Wellington-Suburban services was £105,476.

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