Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 143,418 pages of information and 230,040 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
Originally, New Zealand's railways were constructed by provincial governments and private firms. The largest provincial operation was the Canterbury Provincial Railways, which opened the first public railway at Ferrymead on 1 December 1863. During The Vogel Era of the late 1860s to the 1870s, railway construction by central government expanded greatly, from just 80 kilometres (50 miles) in 1869 to 1,900 kilometres (1,200 miles) in 1880.
The Railways Department was formed in 1880 during the premiership of Sir John Hall. That year, the private Port Chalmers Railway Company Limited was acquired by the department and new workshops at Addington opened. Ironically, the first few years of NZR were marked by the Long Depression, which led to great financial constraint on the department. As a result, the central government passed legislation to allow for the construction of more private railways.