Heritage

Ourimbah Railway Station Group and Residence

Item details

Name of item: Ourimbah Railway Station Group and Residence
Other name/s: Blue Gum Flat
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Pacific Highway, Ourimbah, NSW 2258
Local govt. area: Wyong

Boundary:

North: a line from the northern boundary of the Station Master's residence rear yard across the track; South: a line 20 metres to the south of the platform crossing the track; East: the property boundary to Mills St; West: the property boundary at the Pacific Highway.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Pacific HighwayOurimbahWyong  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Ourimbah Railway Station Group and Residence are of local heritage significance. The station comprises a rare and highly intact grouping of original railway buildings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century including platform buildings, signalling hut, toilet annexe and station master's residence in an attractive valley landscape. The grouping of structures at Ourimbah is outstanding because of their condition and intactness, largely maintaining their historic setting. All of the structures and the group as a whole display a high level of integrity and many retain original internal fixtures and fittings, having undergone only minor modifications since construction.

The rarity value of the group is enhanced by its unusual collection of standard building types in one location, which demonstrate changes in railway station architecture and the design and layout of station facilities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The station building on Platform 2 is rare as one of the last surviving original buildings to remain from the opening of the line from Sydney to Newcastle and is of high significance in its own right.

As such Ourimbah station has technical significance as an important reference site for standard railway architecture. Although individually the buildings on the site are not particularly rare types or unusual modifications to those types, the grouping of the buildings presents a significant opportunity to study a range of standard railway buildings in one place. The grouping of platform buildings, signal box, toilet annexe, station master's residence and adjacent park containing the town War Memorial also demonstrate both the major development phases of the railway station and exemplify the late nineteenth and early twentieth century attitude to railway construction and planning principles. The station has retained the same landmark qualities within the town since it was constructed.
Date significance updated: 06 Nov 09
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Branch intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Designer/Maker: New South Wales Department of Railways
Builder/Maker: New South Wales Department of Railways
Construction years: 1887-
Physical description: Station Building, type 4 (1887)
Station Building, type 11 (c. 1910)
Station Master's Residence, type J2
Signal Box
Toilet Annexe
Battery Box
Footbridge (1992)
Moveable Heritage

CONTEXT
Ourimbah is located on the Central Coast around 90 kilometres north of Sydney between Gosford and Wyong, and is within the Wyong Shire LGA. Ourimbah station lies between the Pacific Highway to the west and Mill Street to the east and with the small adjacent memorial gardens, forms a central feature of the town. Between the station precinct and Mill Street there is a waterway and the station is reached from the east by crossing a small bridge at street level. The station comprises a highly intact grouping of historic railway buildings including a timber station building on Platform 2, brick station building on Platform 1, signal box, toilet annexe and Station Master's Residence. A large modern footbridge is located at the southern end of the platform.

STATION BUILDING (1887)
Exterior: The timber building on Platform 2 is a slightly modified example of a Type A4 timber station building, with no 'Out of Room' and an enlarged Waiting Room. Walls are of weatherboard cladding with timber framed door and window openings. The gabled roof is of corrugated iron with simple timber barge boards, and extends to the platform edge to form a timber framed awning. This awning is simply supported by stop chamfered timber posts and features a timber valance. To the rear (road elevation) the building features a projecting central section with a gabled roof of slightly higher pitch than the main roof, resulting in a small central gablet that is visible on the platform elevation. This central bay features doors on either side and has a central window with a simple timber framed hood. Timber cantilevered awnings have been added to the rear elevation to provide a covered entry to the waiting room. The building has two brick chimneys with a corbelled string course.

Interior: The building features a Ladies Waiting Room, General Waiting Room, and Station Master's Office. The Ladies Waiting Room features timber board walls and ceiling, with carpet covering a timber floor. The original fireplace, complete with cast iron plate and timber mantle, is intact. Windows have been infilled and some glass is broken, however the room is still used as a small office. The central Waiting Room features a timber mansard roof and boarded walls. The floor is slightly raised and is of concrete. All windows are double hung sash and the room features timber architraves and skirtings, however there are no doors. The chimney breast still exists but has been infilled and a payphone has replaced the mantelpiece. Slatted timber benches extend around three sides of the room. The small ticket window is no longer operational but still features original timber architrave and copper coin tray. The Station Master's Office remains in the most original condition of all the rooms, with boarded timber ceiling and walls and timber floor. The original ticket selling bench with large drawers remains in place. The colour scheme is likely to be early, if not original. The chimney breast stills retains the timber mantelpiece, however the cast iron fire plate has been removed in order to house an original railway issue Milners' Patent Fire Resisting Safe. A notice relating to electric lighting dating from 1973 remains in a timber frame on the wall.

STATION BUILDING (c.1910)
Exterior: Located on Platform 1, this station building is a typical Type A8 station building. Walls are face brick (painted to carpark side) featuring rendered stringcourses, window and door surrounds and sills. Engaged piers and rendered capitals support the cast iron awning brackets of the platform veranda. Single and double breasted chimneys are of painted brick with terra cotta chimney pots. The gabled roof is of corrugated iron. The veranda features timber valances.

Interior: Original configuration remains substantially intact and comprises a series of interconnected rooms (disabled bathroom, bathroom, kitchen, store, office and waiting room). Internal walls have smooth rendered finish with profiled timber skirting; ceilings are original mini-orb and feature moulded cornice and central pressed metal ceiling rose. Timber suspended floor has carpet over (concrete to kitchen and bathrooms). Double hung sash windows appear original, although some have been infilled and others have new glass panes. 4 panel timber doors are also original and some feature cathedral lights (multi-paned top lights with coloured glass panes). Original art-noveau inspired waratah air vents remain in all rooms. Waiting Room (former Booking Office) has similar internal finishes to remainder of station, and features original marble chimney piece, timber mantle and cast iron grille insert. A new ticket window has been inserted on the shared wall with the office.

STATION MASTER'S RESIDENCE
Exterior: The Station Master’s Residence is a J2 Type design and is located outside of the rail corridor on the Down side of the line. The cottage is a timber framed, weatherboard and corrugated iron clad structure. External walls appear to retain original weatherboards. A simple gable roof over the main section of the house has a mix of corrugated iron roof sheeting (to the front) and colorbond (to the rear), and features a timber bargeboard with finial on the east side. The double breasted chimney is painted brick with a corbelled string course. The front veranda has been modified and has a concrete floor and new timber posts (original posts appear to have been used as garden edging) and is enclosed on the western side. The veranda is a simple corrugated iron skillion form, but appears to originally have been hipped, with curved brackets remaining. Original cast iron decorative brackets appear to have been reused. At the rear of the house is a skillion annexe of similar weatherboards and colorbond roof sheeting. The brick chimney breast for the kitchen remains, although the chimney stack has been removed. At the rear of the cottage is a fibro laundry and toilet extension, and within the site are two former wells with new concrete caps.

Interior: The interior plan includes a central corridor with four main rooms (3 bedrooms and one lounge) with a kitchen and store located in the rear skillion annexe. Internal walls and ceilings are timber boarded and retain original high profiled skirting and simple moulded cornice. The timber suspended floor has carpet or vinyl sheeting over. Original fireplace mantles remain although fireplaces are boarded over. Brick chimney breasts are rendered. Timber double hung sash windows and 4 panelled doors appear original.

SIGNAL BOX
Exterior: The signal box located on the Down platform is a simple timber framed skillion structure with corrugated iron roof sheeting. Walls are timber boarded both internally and externally. Windows are timber casement and sash, and have been boarded over. A small timber bracketed awning shelters the entry door. The door is modern (original door is extant in signal box).

Interior: The signalling frame and all internal fixtures have been removed and the room is used for storage. The floor is suspended timber with plywood over. Walls and ceiling are boarded, with small moulded timber cornice.

TOILET ANNEXE
Exterior: The Platform 2 station building contains a toilet annexe to the south that is contemporary with the platform building (c.1887). The small toilet structure has timber framed walls clad with weatherboards and a gable roof of corrugated iron. Timber bargeboards are of the same type as the Platform 2 station building. A roof vent to the ridge line has a separate gable roof, although side vents have been blocked. The southeast corner of the building has an exposed brick wall which forms a urinal internally. External doors are modern and most windows have been blocked. There are two water tanks adjacent with concrete caps.

Interior: The building has a concrete floor with timber boarded partitions. Walls are boarded. The ceiling has been largely removed, although there remains evidence of the original timber battened ceiling. Original concrete trough remains.

BATTERY BOX
At the rear of the signal box are 2 co-joined concrete battery boxes with a corrugated iron gable roof with exposed rafters. Walls are precast concrete profiled wall panels, and the structure may possibly have been used as a relay hut.

FOOTBRIDGE (1992)
The original steel trussed footbridge was replaced in 1992 by a footbridge of precast pretensioned planks. This new bridge follows the same form as the old, with three sets of stairs. (By 1980 prestressed concrete had become a suitable product for bridge structures. Many efficient structural shapes were being precast and transported to sites. Costs were competitive with conventional steel designs).

MOVEABLE HERITAGE
2 luggage trolleys (1 marked Ourimbah the other Niagra Park); Ourimbah Station stretcher (No. 106); original metal plate station sign (affixed to Platform 1 station building wall); Milner's Patent Fire Resisting safe in original condition with all badging located in Platform 2 building within fireplace.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Station Building (1887) - Good Condition
The station building on Platform 2 is in good condition and contains a large amount of its original furniture and fittings (in excellent condition given their age). Some windows are broken but have been boarded up in the Ladies Waiting Room.

Station Building (c. 1910) - Very Good Condition
The station building on Platform 1 is in very good condition and appears to have been recently repainted internally.

Station Master's Residence - Moderate Condition
The Station Master's Residence is in moderate condition. The exterior of the building has been adequately maintained, with recently painted surfaces, good roofing and well tended gardens. Internally, the building is in a somewhat run-down state, with stained wall and ceiling finishes, un-hinged doors, and damaged surfaces.

Signal Box - Good/Moderate Condition
Externally, the signal box on Platform 2 is in good condition, having recently been repainted, and with new guttering installed. The building has had its windows boarded but this has been carefully done with the boardings also painted. Internally, the building has been somewhat neglected however, with stained walls, floor and ceiling, and all internal fittings removed.

Toilet Annexe - Moderate/Poor Condition
Externally, the toilet annexe on Platform 2 is in good condition having recently been repainted. Internally however, the building is in poor condition, with badly damaged window frames, rubbish and generally neglected surfaces.

Battery Box - Good Condition (externally)
This structure was not inspected internally, but appears to be in reasonable condition.

Footbridge (1992) - Good condition

Moveable Heritage - Good Condition
All items are in good, original condition.
Date condition updated:11 May 09
Modifications and dates: 1960s-1970s: minor modifications were carried out at Ourimbah.
1984: some upgrading as a result of the electrification of the main line.
c1990s: both Up and Down refuge loops and the goods siding were made redundant and removed, the signal box was placed out of service and the signalling installations revised.
2010: new station entrance and carpark completed
Current use: Railway Station
Former use: Nil

History

Historical notes: A single railway line between Sydney and Hornsby was completed and officially opened in 1886. In the following year, the line was extended from Hornsby to Hawkesbury River. This year also saw the completion of a single line between Gosford and Newcastle at Islington Junction, the site of today’s Hamilton Station. This section of the Short North was officially opened on 15 August 1887.

The train station at Ourimbah, then known as Blue Gum Flat, was also officially opened on 15 August 1887. The contract for the construction of the station building, Station Master’s Residence and goods shed had been awarded to G R & F H Harrison on 20 April 1887. It appears that these buildings took around five months to complete. Ourimbah (Blue Gum Flat) was one of the first stations on the line between Gosford and Newcastle. At the time of opening in 1887, the station comprised a platform and timber station building on the Down side of the line, with a lengthy crossing loop, separate goods siding and goods shed on the Up side of the line.

The Hawkesbury River Bridge was completed in 1889, as was a line that linked the northern side of the bridge to Gosford by way of an extensive tunnel system. The railway link between Strathfield and Newcastle was completed by c1891, which facilitated the transportation of both people and produce between the Hunter Valley and Sydney. Blue Gum Flat was renamed Ourimbah in 1888 due to its proximity to Ourimbah Creek. The creek had been noted and named by Surveyor Matthew in 1831. The name Ourimbah (‘Oorinbah’) is said to mean ‘sacred circle or initiation ground for investing the corin or belt of manhood’.

In the early to mid nineteenth century, the district around Ourimbah was noted as ‘a valley of tall blue gums, turpentine, iron bark and cedar trees.’ This abundant timber supply was soon exploited. By the 1850s, the district had a thriving industry. By the end of the nineteenth century, there were reportedly fourteen timber mills in the district and the local population largely consisted of timber getters and saw millers.

Most of the timber sawn and milled at Ourimbah was used for building works both locally and in Sydney, but was also used to make railway sleepers for the Short North. Later, timber sourced from Ourimbah was used for sleepers that were exported to South Africa and India. (Gosford Public School c1994, Ourimbah Recollections, Gosford, p. 4). In 1902, a gantry crane was erected at Ourimbah Station ‘to handle the growing timber trade’, as well as the burgeoning citrus industry. There were reputedly 20,000 sleepers stored in the railway yards at Ourimbah and ‘as many as two thousand in the bush’. (Gosford Public School c1994, Ourimbah Recollections, Gosford, p. 4-5). On 16 October 1908, the crossing loop at Ourimbah Station was laid in.

In 1911, an additional 5-tonne crane was provided at Ourimbah Station to assist with the handling of timber and citrus intended for both domestic and foreign markets. By 1912, the line north of the Hawkesbury River, between Gosford and Wyong, had been duplicated. At this time, Ourimbah Station comprised a new side platform for the Up line opposite the Down main platform. The timber station building was retained on the Down platform, but a new brick station building was provided on the new brick, Up main line platform. A new dead-end, back-in refuge siding was laid in for Down trains, the points for which were located at the Gosford-end of the platforms, while a new Up loop was laid in behind the new platform. A goods siding was provided, running off the Up loop. A goods shed, a loading bank and a couple of private packing sheds were built adjacent to the goods siding. A steel-framed footbridge spanned both main lines and the Up loop siding. A timber signal box was built at the Newcastle end of the Down main line platform and all signals, points and crossovers at Ourimbah were controlled from there.

When the timber supply had been exhausted, the area became a focus for citrus growing. Newspaper reports indicate that fruit trees were being planted to replace felled timber at Ourimbah in 1903. (Gosford Times 10 July 1903). Citrus orchards were first established in Gosford and Wyong areas from the 1820s; the first was Wyoming near Narara Creek. By the early twentieth century, a number of citrus orchards were located in areas such as Narara, Lisarow, Niagara Park, Ourimbah, Erina, Matcham and Yarramalong. The 1920s and early 1930s saw the formation of a number of co-operative societies formed by citrus growers in the district. These co-operatives were established due to competition from more established fruit growers in the district who were able to undercut them on price, as well as from fruit agents, who were considered to be middle men, skimming the profits from growers. The Ourimbah Bulk Loading Rural Co-operative Society was formed in c1927. In the late 1920s, a ‘small shed was erected in the goods yard to act as an office’ and later ‘a bigger shed was built on the railway siding with the office at the northern end of it’. In the 1930s, a packing plant was built in the Ourimbah Station goods yards and in c1946, a Nissen hut was in use as an ‘office as well as for storing goods and hardware’. The Co-operative was disbanded in the 1970s due to the decline of the citrus industry in the Ourimbah area. The former packing shed ‘in the railway siding’ was demolished in 1991 with ‘the Oregon roof trusses and roofing timber being transferred to Ourimbah School to be used in construction of the new Community Hall.’ (Gosford Public School c1994, Ourimbah Recollections, Gosford, p. 24-25).

Electric lighting was installed at the station in 1943. In the 1940s, the original back-in Down refuge siding was converted into a loop, with points installed at the Gosford end. In 1951, the Up and Down Refuge sidings were extended and converted to a loop. In 1960, automatic signalling was installed in the Gosford-Wyong section, although local control of signals and siding were retained at Ourimbah. On 29 June 1961, single light signalling was introduced at Ourimbah Station. Four years later, in 1964/65, a new under bridge was constructed to accommodate D57 Class locomotives passing underneath it. ‘To the north the new Ourimbah Creek Bridge 18.2m in length was opened on the Up and Down lines on March 1964. It was a steel bridge of through girders.’ (Gosford Public School c1994, Ourimbah Recollections, Gosford, p. 43).

On 19 August 1973, the Electricity Commission siding was removed and by the 1990s, both Up and Down refuge loops and the goods siding were made redundant and removed, the signal box was placed out of service and the signalling installations revised. The line north of the Hawkesbury River between Gosford and Hornsby was electrified in May 1984, cutting the travel time from Wyong to Sydney by an hour, compared to 1947.

Electrification of the main line between Gosford and Newcastle was opened in May 1984, an extension of the Sydney-Gosford electrification which had been completed in 1960. The new electrification project involved new or rebuilt platforms, station buildings, footbridges, overbridges and underbridges, line side buildings, sidings and myriad structures in that section in order to permit the operation of the wider electric passenger rollingstock and electric locomotives. Accordingly, some upgrading was undertaken at Ourimbah. By the 1990s, both Up and Down refuge loops and the goods siding were made redundant and removed, the signal box was placed out of service and the signalling installations revised.

The timber station building and the signal box on the Down main line platform are extant. The former Station Master’s Residence (timber) on the Down side of the line at the Newcastle-end of the platform is extant and the original brick station building on the up side platform remains unaltered.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Transporting agricultural supplies and machinery-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Signalling and safe working-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Forestry-Activities associated with identifying and managing land covered in trees for commercial purposes. Utilising timber for railway purposes-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Building the railway network-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Impacts of railways on urban form-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Ourimbah station is historically significant. The station was opened in August 1887 as part of the Gosford-Wyong section of the Northern line and while there was some limited settlement in the area prior to this date, the construction of the railway was a major factor in encouraging the subdivision and development of the township. The grouping of structures at the station is unusual in that it demonstrates both key phases of development along the Northern line in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Ourimbah Railway Station has aesthetic significance as it presents an attractive composition of historic station buildings sited within the surrounding valley landscape. The grouping of platform buildings, signal box, toilet annexe, Station Master's Residence and adjacent park containing the town War Memorial demonstrates both the development phases of the railway station and exemplifies the late nineteenth and early twentieth century attitude to railway construction and planning principles. The station has retained the same landmark qualities within the town since it was constructed.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The place has the potential to contribute to the local community's sense of place and can provide a connection to the local community's history.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The archaeological research potential of the site is low. There may be some evidence of a former goods siding, Up loop, goods shed, loading bank and some small packing sheds remaining behind the Up platform. Information from such investigation may be of interest in a local context, but evidence is likely to be compromised by the disturbed nature of the site.

Ourimbah station has research significance as an important reference site for standard railway architecture. Although individually the buildings on the site are not particularly rare types or unusual modifications to those types, the grouping of the buildings presents a significant opportunity to study a range of standard railway buildings in one place.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Ourimbah is a rare example of an intact railway station grouping from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and the combination of station buildings, residence and undeveloped surroundings is of State significance for its ability to demonstrate two major phases of railway station development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its rarity is enhanced by its unusual collection of standard building types in one location. The grouping of structures at Ourimbah is outstanding because of their setting, condition and intactness.

The station building on Platform 2 is rare as one of the last surviving original buildings to remain from the opening of the line from Sydney to Newcastle and is of high significance.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Ourimbah station has representative significance at a State level. The collection of buildings on the site are highly intact representative examples of standard station buildings demonstrating changes in railway station architecture and the design and layout of station facilities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Integrity/Intactness: Ourimbah station is a highly intact grouping of structures that have been subject to only minor modifications since the electrification of the line in 1984. All of the structures and the group as a whole display a high level of integrity and many retain original internal fixtures and fittings, except for the signal box which has had its internal equipment removed.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA30State Rail Authority  No
Heritage and Conservation Register State Rail Authority of NSW1993274Paul Davies for SRA  No
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 NSW Department of Commerce  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGosford Public School Ourimbah Recollections, c1994
WrittenJohn Forsyth Line Histories
WrittenRay Love2009Historical Research for RailCorp s170 Update
WrittenSingleton, CC,1965The Short North - The Sydney-Newcastle Link Railway, New South Wales Railways
WrittenState Rail Authority of New South Wales1995How and Why of Station Names. Fourth Edition

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4801030


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