For over a decade Franklin’s local historical societies have campaigned to save the station building but finally they have admitted defeat. The building will be lost to the district it has served for more than one hundred years. It was the oldest publicly accessible building in the town.
It became impossible to progress the plan for restoration and repurposing of the building without KiwiRail’s assurance it could be returned to the railway area once the network upgrade and building of new staff operational facilities were complete.
KiwiRail insisted on the establishment of a sustainable funding stream to secure, maintain and insure the building in perpetuity before they would consider the idea of reinstating it in the railside area. Yet they were unable to give any indication if there would definitely be a place for the repurposed station in the new development.
“It’s a catch 22 situation” said Eric Muir, President of the Franklin Historical Society, “obviously funders are not willing to support any project where the end result cannot be certain”.
With no monetary support forthcoming from the Franklin Local Board / Auckland Council a small group of dedicated locals have been waging an uphill battle to keep the building within the railway yard environs. They rejected suggestions of relocating the station away from the town centre, as its heritage value would be diminished once removed from the railway.
“Pukekohe has already lost a significant number of its heritage buildings and it is very disappointing to see yet another lost” said Eric. “Those remaining will be at risk with the potential for redevelopment of four to eight stories in the business area.”
The station will now be taken to Matangi, whose own railway station is long since gone. As part of a heritage village project, the station could be placed on the railway line that passes through the revamped Matangi Dairy Factory Site.