Steeped in the history of the Old Central Fire Station…
Brian & Tracy both started life in a small town called Mosgiel, near Dunedin. Married in 1987 and with careers in the FMCG sector, they moved to Auckland in 1992 to further their careers. In 1994 the arrival of their son Taylor meant that Tracy made that significant career change. After spending sometime in Indonesia and the Philippines the Hawkers settled back in Auckland for the second time. Brian was regularly visiting the Mars Plant in Wanganui in his role as Commercial Director and on one family visit to the city they decided to move there, which happened early in 2000. Whanganui has been home ever since.
In 2006 Brian left Mars and started looking for business opportunities that would enable the family to stay in Whanganui. Country Lane Originals was purchased at the same time. Whanganui has given so much to the Hawkers and they are thrilled to be able to give something back in the way of La Station.
The building itself was built in 1921 and was designed by the renowned architects Ford & Talboys with an Italian Renaissance influence and with very simple elements being used to gain a quiet and dignified appearance appropriate to the building’s use and its character as one of the town’s principal public buildings.
The main front of the building faced Wilson Street to avoid potential conflict between emerging fire engines and the trams on Guyton Street. The centre of the station was the plant room with its three large doors opening onto Wilson Street; the public entrance was also on Wilson Street (a doorway later blocked off and made into a window). Single-men’s quarters were mainly on the ground floor with the Guyton Street entrance providing access to the first floor with its social hall, further single men’s quarters as well as self-contained quarters for the superintendent and his deputy.
The fire station is a two-storey brick building with plaster finish. The roof is mainly clad with Marseilles tiles; the rear portion with its corrugated iron was one of the changes to the original design, presumably to save money, and has always been clad in this way. The design of the building reflects a Georgian revival style which was much-favoured by Ford at the time. It has wide bracketed eaves and symmetrically placed sash windows with 8 lights to each sash. Pilasters delineate the slightly protruding corner bays on the street elevations; the ground floor windows on these bays have upper pediments. Cornice bands run around the building, front and back, at the head and sill of the first floor windows. The simple disc motif below the corner window pediments and between the upper cornice and the soffit with its wooden brackets is a decorative device used by Ford on two other commercial buildings he designed in Wanganui – Empress Buildings in Ridgway Street and the interior courtyard of Victoria Court in the Avenue.
Construction of a new Fire Station started in 1979 and in 1981 the Fire Service moved to the new premises.
Over the last 2 years Brian & Tracy have continued the restoration and beautification work that the previous owners Geoff & Jody had started – painting, insulation, earthquake strengthening, fire report implementation and gardens etc. have all been completed.
Today the building contains Chonel Hairdressers, Whanganui Ballet School, Station House AirBNB, Brian & Tracy’s Apartment and La Station Design Store.