The majestic Mt Roskill Fire Station in Auckland was built in 1927

PHOTO: The majestic Mt Roskill Fire Station in Auckland was built in 1927

A magnificently restored landmark historic fire station lovingly reinstated to its original art deco state – including a museum-like collection of vintage firefighting gear and equipment – has been placed on the market for sale… complete with its very own genuine fire engine.

The majestic Mt Roskill Fire Station in Auckland was built in 1927, being the oldest Central City fire station and designed by arts and crafts architect Arthur Palmer. It continued to be a working fire station until 2009 when it was vacated, and the firefighting teams and equipment transferred to other stations nearby in Mount Albert and Onehunga.

In the 1980s, the fire station parking area, previously the site of the original St Margarets Hall, also served as the district’s ambulance base

The property remained empty for nearly two years – falling into disrepair while it was intermittently occupied by squatters and vandals until the dilapidated structure was purchased in 2011 by heritage-loving architectural designer and renovation handyman Nig Marshall and wife Bev, son Jolon and his partner, Rebecca.

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Appreciating the ‘hidden treasure’ lying behind boarded-up windows, a leaking roof, graffiti-covered walls, and an overgrown garden, the family bought the property as a team restoration project.

Constructed from concrete and double red bricks, the Mount Roskill Fire Station was perfect for a two-dwelling configuration – with a three-bedroom residence in the main road-facing portion of the building and another two-bedroom residence in what used to be the fire station captain’s ‘married quarters’ lodging.

Over the ensuing years, Nig, Bev, Jolon and Rebecca spent literally hundreds of hours restoring the imposing two-storey structure – taking it back to its historical roots dating back almost 100 years and working off the original draughtsman’s blueprint plans which they had sourced. Those plans are now framed and sit on one of the station’s walls.

Native New Zealand timber floorboards were sanded back, Oregon timber ceiling beams were exposed, and a replacement fireman’s pole was reinstated into the structure, which in the past allowed for easy descent from the upstairs quarters to the waiting fire trucks below.



“The old girl was the furthest state you could imagine a building being in without actually demolishing it. There was a lot of public interest when it came up for tender, but the sheer scale of what needed to be done obviously put a lot of people off,” admits Nigel.

“We all worked our arses off to clean, scrape, sand every corner from the floor up to the rafters.

“Regularly throughout the renovation project we were visited by former firemen who had served there, along with local neighbours popping in to see what was going on. The stories we picked up over the years were amazing – I’m wishing now that we had recorded some of them, because they are so much of the history of Mount Roskill.”

As the restoration project evolved, so too did the family’s fascination with the professional lives of the brave firemen who served at the Mount Roskill Fire Station. While the interior of the property increasingly began to resemble a 1920s fire station, Nigel and Jolon patiently built up a museum-like collection of authentic New Zealand fire station paraphernalia – including helmets, hoses, extinguishers, axes, ladders, signage, and even a cabinet of model toy fire trucks.


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An authentic 1940s/50s New Zealand fire alarm, gifted by the Fire Boards Historical Society, has even been repurposed as the home’s electronic gate opener.

The piece-de-resistance among the collection though was Nigel’s acquisition of a 1966 Bedford fire engine, named Flick, which has a current COF and can occasionally be seen – and heard – driving around the streets of Mount Roskill.

The commitment to the period art deco design forms even extended to the rear garden, where volcanic strata from the surrounding volcanic cones were quarried and turned into a terraced garden with vegetable and fruit trees, aided by Rebecca’s gardening skills.

Showcasing the adage that ‘they don’t build ‘em like that anymore’, the property’s original art deco roofing tiles were the flayed terracotta clay style produced by Winstone in the 1920s.

Family circumstances for the Marshalls have changed in recent years though. Son Jolon, now with two young children, and Rebecca have moved down to the Waikato. Meanwhile, a change in health circumstances means the multi-level fire station residence with its New York loft-style mezzanine level master bedroom is no longer ideal.

So, the Mount Roskill Fire Station at 504 Mount Albert Road sitting on some 1,126-square metres of land has been placed on the market for sale – with purchasers having the first option of buying all of the fire station paraphernalia, and period furniture in addition to the land and buildings. And yes, Flick the Bedford fire engine is included in that offering.

At the time it was decommissioned, Mount Roskill Fire Station had no heritage building classification. Recognising the cultural importance that the building enjoyed within its local community, the family was keen to ensure that degree of protection changed and were heartened to know the process had already been instigated by the local community board under the auspices of Auckland Council.

The building is now recorded as a site of ‘heritage and cultural significance’ within the Three Kings Heritage Trail.

The Marshall’s know that the future options for their much-loved fire station project are varied – dual family ownership and use as it has been, one substantial dwelling with up to five bedrooms and multiple living areas, a work-from-home scenario with separate offices within what were the former fire station’s administration rooms, a true to style art deco B & B commercial accommodation offering, or as the core of a residential development project which could see the construction of a separate stand-alone four-bedroom two-storey home, St Margarets, on its own unit title. Plans and structural designs along those lines have already been consented by Auckland Council.

Real estate agent Annabel Marshall of Bayleys Ponsonby said the Mount Roskill fire station offering would attract a very niche type of new owner. The land and dwelling at 504 Mount Albert Road is being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Ponsonby, with tenders closing on April 18 unless sold prior.

“This isn’t your standard four or five-bedroom home. It’s very very niche… either someone who wants to live in what is a magnificently refurbished fire station that comes with almost 100 years of history and heritage, someone who loves and appreciates the art deco design form which has been painstakingly adhered to in the restoration, or someone who wants both of the above and has a vision for developing an additional residence,” said Annabel Marshall.

As an acknowledgment of the Fire Station’s history and the tragic events from the recent Cyclone Gabrielle, viewing interested parties will be offered the opportunity to make a donation, where all raised funds will go to the Auckland West Volunteer Fire Brigades and Fire Service Historical Society.

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