Hillside Railway Workshops

Engineering Plant (eg railway, locomotive, car, plane)


Dunedin's Hillside Railway Workshops have played a major role in the construction of locomotives and freight wagons for New Zealand’s railway system.

The five government workshops at Addington, Hillside, Otahuhu, Wanganui and Woburn, were early industrial complexes. Hillside initially opened in the mid-1870s as a relatively small repair workshop, but soon was significantly expanded. Further major upgrading and expansion occurred during 1926-29.

Between 1897 and 1967 Hillside manufactured a total of 190 locomotives, including 90 4-6-4 tank engines (Classes Wg, Ww and Wab) between 1910 and 1927, and 35 4-8-2 Ja express engines between 1946 and 1956. During World War Two Hillside manufactured 3 inch mortars, as well as machined components for other weapons systems.

Hillside was the largest industrial complex in the southern half of the South Island, employing a maximum of nearly 1200 people in 1946.

Between 1966 and 1990 Hillside produced nearly 1600 wagons, including 1200 bogie container wagons between 1971 and 1988. Late 20th century contracts included large car carrier wagons and hopper wagons for fertilizer, utilizing both steel and aluminium alloys.

In 1989 the workshops were renamed Transtec Hillside Engineering, a division of Transport Engineering Equipment Liaison (TEEL) Business Group of the New Zealand Railways Corporation.

At this time Hillside was the largest mechanical engineering enterprise in New Zealand, and incorporated the largest metal foundry. It concentrated on iron and steel castings, steel and aluminium machining and fabrication, wagon assembly, together with the physical testing of metals and castings.

In 2012 the Hillside Railway Workshops were still operating, although on a smaller scale and with an uncertain future. Later that year KiwiRail sold the foundry to Australian company Bradken and most of the existing staff were made redundant in what was described as "a tragedy for Dunedin and local manufacturing."

Heritage recognition
IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project

This item of New Zealand’s engineering heritage was recognised as part of the IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project which the Institution organised to help celebrate the country’s sesquicentenary in 1990. A plaque was unveiled to mark the significance of these railway workshops as part of the development of the nation.

Matthew Wright, New Zealand Engineering Heritage, 1870-2000 (Auckland, Reed, 1999), pp.33-34

'Hillside closure a tragedy for Dunedin and workers,' Scoop Independant News, 20 December 2012 (www.scoop.co.nz)


No Attachments


Hillside Road, South Dunedin


Access Info
The buildings are visible from the street, however the workshops are not open for public viewing.

Nature of Engineering
Rail Transportation, Building and Construction, Transport (Road, sea, air, incl vehicles)


Hillside Railway Workshops, Dunedin, looking towards St Clair, circa 1895. Williams, Edgar Richard, 1891-1983: Negatives, lantern slides, stereographs, colour transparencies, monochrome prints, photographic ephemera. Ref: 1/1-025911-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://beta.natlib.govt.nz/records/23177475

(Click image to enlarge )

Workshop yards at the Hillside Railway Workshops in Dunedin, 1925. Godber, Albert Percy, 1875-1949: Collection of albums, prints and negatives. Ref: APG-1627-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://beta.natlib.govt.nz/records/23035107

(Click image to enlarge )

Lat: -45.894489 Long: 170.493286