Paekakariki has a long association with railways. The Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company built the first engine shed on our site in 1886 to serve the need to change locomotives required for the Paekakariki Hill and grades south into Wellington.
After electrification came to the Wellington region in 1940, the changeover from steam to electric traction took place at Paekakariki, continuing the need for a locomotive depot. Even after diesels took over from steam, loco changes from Diesel to electric still took place until the tunnels south of Paekakariki had been lowered to allow the larger "Da" class locos to fit through. While the loco changes took place the passengers were able to visit the busy refreshment rooms in the station building. For many years, it was the northern limit of Wellington suburban services and is still a stabling point for suburban electric units.
The main engine shed was demolished after the depot closed in the late 1960s, but some other buildings and facilities remained. Steam Incorporated first took over the site in 1972, leasing it from the then New Zealand Government Railways.
Today it is owned by the society and is far more than just a shed! Situated between the North Island Main Trunk railway line to the west, and State Highway 59 (previously SH1) to the east it comprises a number of sidings, a turntable, a large freight shed used by US Marines during WW2, our amenities block, the main workshop and running shed where we carry out most of our locomotive restoration and maintenance, and a recently constructed large carriage storage shed. In all there is over a kilometre of track within the site.
The large freight shed was originally built for the US Marines. In the fifties it became the Rail Air freight depot for Paraparaumu Airport. Rail Air was a busy freight service operated by NZR & SAFE Air using Bristol Freighter aircraft between Woodborne and Paraparaumu. This was prior to the rail ferries being introduced.
Future plans include a specialist carriage workshop to aid the restoration of our vintage carriage collection. Current major restoration projects include the second restoration of steam loco Ka945 and EMD diesel loco Da1471. Sister engine Da1410 has recently re-entered main line opeation after a major restoration project. Dc4375 is another very recent addition to the fleet waiting inline for rebuilding.
This year 2022 Steam Incorporated is celebrating our fiftieth anniversary. A series of special events are being arranged to help mark the occasion.