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History Hamilton Central is New Zealandâ€™s first underground station, although it has been abandoned since 1995. The railway originally ran through the centre of Hamilton and was one of the busiest locomotive areas on the north island. Over the years traffic on the line increased significantly as services for both passengers and industry improved; progress and growth was to such an extent that by 1968 the use of steam operated locomotives on the north island was brought to an end, replaced instead by the more contemporaneous diesel engine. During this period of expansion the railway used a method known as â€˜cut and coverâ€™ to construct the new station (Hamilton Central). This method involves excavating a large amount of earth and covering the hollow with concrete and spoil, and was designed to conceal the noise of countless trains thundering across the city. This also provided a partial solution to the growing traffic problems that were becoming an increasing concern. Above ground the former site of an old railway yard functioned, for many years, as a car park, tunnel entrance and bus terminal, all aimed towards serving the many public users of the station. In later years, a concrete slab was placed over the entrance of the underground station and after the closure of the terminal a DIY warehouse was constructed in its place. The warehouseâ€™s car park, storage and staff areas now lie behind part of the station (if you climb up and look behind the wooden panel the last photograph). Part of the decision to close the underground station evolved due to increases in crime, concerns surrounding the safety of passengers, vandalism and graffiti. In preparation for the 2011 Rugby World Cup there were plans to reopen the underground station, however, the combination of impending financial debt and complications involving the warehouse above resulted in the dismissal of all pending proposals. Our Version of Events Some form of underground station has long been on the â€˜to do listâ€™, and since being in New Zealand the prospect of exploring one seemed unlikely; until I return to the UK at least. Nevertheless, one turned up! For this one we travelled many, many, many kilometres (not miles over here)â€¦ Then a few more kilometres, to reach the city of Hamilton; because thatâ€™s what you do in New Zealand. Itâ€™s a fantastic city though, for anyone planning a visit. Our prime concern, however, was the underground station thatâ€™s been abandoned for quite some time. Access is a little interesting with this one, as you have to find a way onto the main line and then give it legs until you reach the underground platform. Inside, although itâ€™s heavily vandalised and covered in graffiti, it still feels like an underground station, with the tiles, the smell of pollution and general layout. The old ramp which ascended to the former terminal also still exists. Just as we were wrapping things up though the experience became all the more awesome as a train rushed past the station; kicking up the dirt of the platform and filling the air with the sound of the horn as it raced on to its destination. Explored with Nillskill and Zort. 1: Hamilton Central Station 2: A view across the platform 3: A track view 4: Looking down the platform 5: Bottom of exit/entrance tunnel 6: Top of exit/entrance tunnel (concrete cover positioned above) 7: Inside the tunnel 8: Hamilton Central Platform 9: Caught by surprise 10: The train in the distance
History Church College of New Zealand is a former private secondary school, positioned at Temple View in Hamilton. The site is owned by a Mormon religious and cultural group, and when the school was operational it was run by the Church Educational System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Officially, construction began in 1952, with the announcement that a temple would be erected in Hamilton, and upon completion â€“ in 1958 â€“ the entire site and its buildings covered approximately 85.5 acres of land; in its entirety the site includes a temple, a housing estate, a secondary school, a library, a medical centre, farm land and a significant number of dormitories for boys, girls and staff. The cost of construction was considerable, given that the surrounding land mainly comprised of soft peat and work on establishing solid foundations began in the early 1950â€™s. Throughout the construction period the design of the school and the social infrastructure of the local community was heavily influenced by church officials from Utah, until members of the church located across New Zealand also moved into the area. Many of the materials used in the construction of the communeâ€™s buildings were locally sourced and a high number of Mormons from American, who were specialists in plumbing, mechanics, welding, painting, electrics and brick work travelled over to establish a communal way of life. Cultural influences of the immigrants are manifest as many of the buildings are based on typical American design ideals. Once in operation the secondary school located onsite taught New Zealand children and teenagers aged thirteen (year nine) to eighteen (year thirteen). In total 700 students attended the school and over 100 members of staff were employed in any given year. In 2007, however, the school ceased to accept new students, and by 2009 only 120 students attended the school and its number of staff members had been cut to 50. The school closed later that year. It is reported that a moderate tuition fee was in place, but the school received the majority of its funding from the church. Essentially, closure of the school can be attributed to the church who decided that the public schooling system offers quality education and it was unanimously agreed that a significant amount of money could be saved if the public system was utilised. Although certain parts of the commune still exist, primarily the temple, housing estate and farm lands, the school is set to be demolished, although part of the school is destined to be converted into a community centre. The medical centre and a significant number of the dormitories have already been demolished to the disappointment of many within the community. On an ironic note, the chairman of hearings commissioners pointed out that â€œit did not help that the motto of the Church College of New Zealand was â€˜Built for Eternityâ€™â€. Our Version of Events After our little escapade inside Hamilton Central Station, we travelled outside the city centre towards the Mormon community, unsure of the progress of demolition. A couple of the members of Urbex Central NZ had attempted this particular location earlier in the year, however, they were met by a large angry mob of Mormon followers who decided to hunt them down. Luckily, escape, albeit a rather wet one, was made possible through the old peat bogs behind the site. This time though, we caught them off guard and approached the site whilst they gathered inside their church for prayer time. Access was simply enough, and myself and Nillskill managed to step inside relatively silently. Zort, on the other handâ€¦ â€¦ As I had my back to him while he entered, I thought heâ€™d jumped through the solid glass window next to our entry point. The sound was unbelievable; something like a thousand glass bottles all shattering at the same time. Quickly deducing that weâ€™d most likely been heard we raced on inside to gather as many photographs as possible. As it turned out, however, it seems our incredibly loud entrance fell on deaf ears; perhaps theyâ€™d reached the singing bit of their service? We were lucky in this respect too, because the site was huge. We spent hours navigating the many corridors and the various rooms and facilities Church College of New Zealand had to offer. Our last close encounter with the Mormons occurred as we wandered through the ground floor of library, and a car drove past the window as we were all stood staring back. Somehow, we werenâ€™t noticedâ€¦? As we left the commune we decided, for one last venture, to drive through their housing estate and past the church; where the service was still in full swing. This time they noticed us and, as we drove past extremely slowly, every one of them stared out at us from inside. Cultic activity, it would seem, is a bit disconcerting. Explored with Nillskill and the ninja-like Zort. Apologies for the pic-heavy report. As I stated previously, the site was incredibly bigâ€¦ 1: Outside view of Church College of New Zealand 2: Sports stands 3: PE Department male toilets 4: PE Department male changing room 5: Pectoral machine in the former gym 6: More gym machines 7: Leg machine 8: Gas lanterns for outdoor education 9: Sports equipment and dreaded spare kit 10: Swimming pool 11: Swimming pool viewing area and offices 12: A view of the pool from the viewing stands 13: The main sports hall 14: The main sports hall rear view 15: Scoreboard 16: Main stage in assembly hall 17: Large piano in assembly hall 18: From the rear of the assembly hall 19: The projection room above the assembly hall 20: The upper stands in the assembly hall 21: The scaffolding and ropes for the stage 22: Inside the large organ in the assembly hall 23: The costume and props room (backstage) 24: Ping pong tables in entrance area 25: Cleaning Device 26: Service Posters 27: Traditional school projector 28: The board of awards 29: The counsellors office 30: The TV room