Christchurch, New Zealand
September 3, 2002
New Zealand's first public railway line was opened from Ferrymead to Christchurch in 1863. Coastal ships would cross the Sumner Bar and make their way up the Estuary to a wharf at Ferrymead (the piles of which can still be seen today) before unloading their cargo for transportation to Christchurch by rail. Other wharves were located further up the river. In 1867, the Lyttelton rail tunnel was opened and the Ferrymead branch line was immediately closed.
Apart from the wharf piles, the only structure from this period to remain is Ferrymead House which is privately owned. In 1964, the Heathcote County Council purchased the site of the first public railway station for use as a park and asked the Junior Chamber of Commerce to make recommendations for the development of the six acre property. The Junior Chamber did this as its 21st anniversary project and a series of committees was set up to plan the various aspects of the site. Today the park consists of an Edwardian township and an Exhibition Area. The township contains a church, chapel, schoolhouse, Print Shop, barber, bakery, solicitors office, Magic Lantern Theatre, drapery, three cottages, two residential houses, Police House and Jail, photographic studio, Heathcote Studios, railway station, railway running sheds, blacksmith, livery stables, Post and Telegraph Office, bootmaker, cooperage and sawmill. Within the exhibition area are the largest fire museum in Australasia, an aeronautical museum, the Hall of Wheels and a model railway display. At Bridle Path Rd, the park also has a Tram Barn, Sound Museum and active radio station - 3XP.
From journal The Garden City