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In the late 1910s and 1920s, there was a large housing shortage in New Zealand. This affected the railway workers who often struggled to find affordable housing - often, they would rather quit and find another job than transfer to a centre without available rental housing. The Railway Department was therefore granted its own housing programme and built some 3,000-5,000 of these houses. Their components were prefabricated in Frankton Junction in Hamilton and freighted to where they were needed. On-site, they took just 2 weeks to build by two labourers. 

This house is a surviving example of the railway settlement in Milson. It was built in 1926 along with some 70 others in the area. They were to serve the workers building the new Milson deviation which took the main trunk line out of the Square. 

Each house had 3 bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen and scullery. Many of the Milson residents found that rain got inside through the back door because of the strong westerly winds. Rear porches were reluctantly approved by the authority and added on after their complaints. Each house had one of four roof designs and one of four front porch designs. This was to reduce monotony and improve the street-scape - planners wanted to avoid the creation of 'industrial suburbs' and tried adopting pretty garden suburb principles. However, by the time Milson was founded this aspiration was put aside to favour quick-development. Rent was a day's pay. 

These houses remained in the hands of the state until neo-liberalisation in the late 20th century - perhaps some are still owned by the government. About 65 remain. Many of these houses have been done-up, altered or removed. Some have been moved off of their original sections and put into mini clusters. The empty sections have been redeveloped with new houses. One across the road from the one pictured was removed in 2018/2019 and replaced with two small houses. There are a few railway cottages on the streets parallel to Main St, near Memorial Park.

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A Railway Department Cottage in Milson

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26 Cambridge Street, Palmerston North
Date
January 2019

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Related items

A Railway Department Cottage in Milson
Palmerston North Milson Settlement plan
Railway Houses, Joseph Street
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First International Agricultural Aviation Show, Milson Airport
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Union Airways Hangar, Milson
Langley Reserve cosed due to COVID-19 lockdown
The Opening of St Peter's College
Railcar Crash at Milson
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Palmerston North Airport

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