Thursday, August 25, 2011

St Pauls' memorial tram shelter

The tram shelter in 1922. Reference 1-W1825, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.

Updated April 2022

This was demolished during my lifetime, but I was too young to remember it, probably. At the point where Wellesley Street intersects with Symonds Street, beside St Pauls Church, there used to be a tram shelter, built by the parish as a war memorial in 1919, completed and opened in 1920.

A handsome stone tramway shelter, erected by the St Paul's Church authorities at Auckland as a war memorial, is rapidly nearing completion.
Poverty Bay Herald 11 March 1920

The Hon. J. G. Coates, Postmaster General, left to-day for Auckland, where he will open to-morrow a war memorial tram shelter erected by the parish of St. Paul's. He will return immediately to Wellington.
Evening Post 27 March 1920

According to Heritage New Zealand, the shelter was demolished in 1971. A real pity.


  1. Wow! I attended St Paul's from the early 1970s to the late 1980s - later, I was possibly their youngest ever member of the Vestry (executive) - and I had no idea about this structure, though it makes sense that it was there - in my churchgoing days that entry area was always rather underwhelming. It seems kind of wrong to demolish a war memorial: I wonder if it had anything to do with the motorway overbridge that was subsequently built? Or perhaps even in 1971, "undesirables" were hanging about (I can just imagine how appealing the dark corners of that tram shelter might have been).

    The Historic Places Trust register entry for the church ( notes that after WWII they briefly considered completing the church tower and spire as a war memorial too. It never happened.

  2. I suspect it was due to the roading changes. Looking at aerials, that corner seems to have been a bit "cut off" between 1959 and 2006. Seeing as the parish erected the tram shelter, and it was still on Anglican Diocesan land, they had every right to decide what to do with it. But St Pauls has always seemed to me to have a lopsided, unfinished look to it. As if a grand original plan has never been fulfilled. I still like it, though. One of my favourite buildings in the CBD.

    1. Yes, Timespanner, St Paul's has a running theme of never being finished despite multiple attempts to. It's original plan by WH Skinner was modified to suit budget & the church was consecrated in 1895 with no steeple, top butresses or chancel and the transepts constructed from wood. The plan was to complete the work later. In 1936 the chancel and transepts were finished but out of concrete- the Rangitoto & Oamaru stone outer walls were never added and Skinner's large transept window was removed to accomodate the organ instead. Over the years small changes have been made- plain glass has been replaced by stained, particularly in the chancel, but there are many things left incomplete. Besides the rather ugly concrete back third, inside, the choir loft is obviously lacking with a large door to access it high up in the wall & pillars built in supporting nothing.
      Despite these things it's filled wth architectural and historical gems. Selwyn's Bishop's throne for example, a gift from Queen Victoria is here, as well as the tallest stone arch in the southern hemisphere between the nave and chancel. The ceiling is gorgeous- ornate kauri and the pillar capitals have intricate carvings. It's a beautiful church in need of a good deal of restorative TLC & one day, hopefully, it can finally be completed as originally envisaged. It's certainly my favourite building in the CBD :)

  3. Hi everyone I work at St Paul's Church and am doing research on its history. The shelter was demolished in Dec 1971 due to repeat vandalism & the fact that trams had ceased in 1950s and the replacement busses had their own stop further up the street.
    The shelter was built to mirror the main building, constructed from Rangitoto bluestone with Oamaru stone dressing. Inside were tablets bearing the names of the campaigns and inscriptions of the fallen. It even had 4 stained glass windows.
    Vestry minutes note that they felt it would be more appropriate for the commemorative stones to be re-erected on a "less vulnerable face of the church" but sadly, both the engraved stones and stained glass panels have all been lost.

    1. The true importance of the tram shelter though, Simeon, is not its utilitarian function as part of the tram system infrastructure -- but that it was a war memorial. Very sad that it was demolished.