Heritage

Gunnedah Railway Station

Item details

Name of item: Gunnedah Railway Station
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Tempest Street, Gunnedah, NSW 2380
Local govt. area: Gunnedah

Boundary:

RailCorp property boundaries as shown on vesting plan, R29715. It should be noted that the original area of the railway station has been reduced, and that there is an historical and visual relationship with the surrounding area not necessarily apparent from the current property boundaries. As such, any proposed development within the vicinity of the railway station should also consider the historic relationship between the station site and its surrounding area.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Tempest StreetGunnedahGunnedah  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Gunnedah Railway Station is of state significance for its early 20th Century station building, constructed as a unique and elaborate building during a period of general railway standardisation and restrained design. Having replaced an earlier 1870s building, the existing c1913 building reflects through its size and quality of detail, that the economic and social growth of Gunnedah had continued to prosper in line with the town’s expanding population and the exportation of wheat and coal. The building is unusual for its scale and its employment of decorative Edwardian architectural elements such as large windows with curved heads. The building adds to the historic fabric of the town presenting an elegant facade to the street, and it is now one of the few surviving substantial railway buildings in the north-west of NSW.
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

Builder/Maker: A H Scouller
Construction years: 1878-1915
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station building (c1913-15)
Platform (1878; extended in 1915)

STATION BUILDING (c1913-15)
Gunnedah railway station is a side platform building constructed of brick in Flemish bond. The building design consists of a main, gabled building parallel to the platform with 3 pavilions evenly spaced projecting from the main building with a central pavilion (15’ wide), formerly the booking hall, and two flanking pavilions (12’ wide) at either end. A separate toilet pavilion is located at one end attached to the main building by a flat roofed, corrugated, galvanised iron wing (originally a yard). A broad, cast iron, cantilevered platform awning spans the entire building. The pavilions have transverse gabled rooves with two verandahs (7’ wide) formed between the pavilions on the road-side of the building supported by timber posts with decorative timber fretwork. The roof was originally clad in diamond pattern, fibre cement slates but is now corrugated, galvanised iron. There are 3 chimneys with terra cotta pots; the roof is corrugated, galvanised iron, and the gable ends are half-timbered with NC sheet boarding. The windows are timber, double hung sash. The upper sashes have curved heads and a 3x3 pane arrangement. The doors are timber with moulded panelling and have multiple panelled transom windows.

The planning is linear with public entry through the centre gable facing the street. The building includes a station master’s office; meal room; communications room; luggage office; waiting room; ladies waiting room; store room and toilets.

PLATFORM
Brick faced
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The station building is good condition.
Date condition updated:13 Oct 09
Modifications and dates: 1878 - Contract for building the station building and goods shed awarded
1915 - New station buildings constructed and platform extended; a water column erected; one duplex pump and boiler installed.
Further information: The former loading bank has been demolished and the weighbridge is not within the curtilage (managed by ARTC).
Current use: Railway Station
Former use: Nil

History

Historical notes: Gunnedah railway precinct is located on the Mungindi line, branching from the Great Northern Railway (Main North line) at the major rail centre of Werris Creek, and heading north to the remote town of Mungindi, on the Queensland border. Today the line is utilised for almost its entire length for grain transport, and for coal from the Preston and Gunnedah collieries (nswrail.net).

Gunnedah is located in the east of the region of the Darling Plains. John Oxley discovered the Darling Plains region in the 1820s with most of the country subdivided into large runs by the mid-19th century. The region was used predominantly by pastoralists for cattle and sheep grazing, although the 20th century saw sheep and wheat farming dominate the region. Apart from pastoralism, mining has been important for the growth and prosperity of Gunnedah. Coal was discovered on Black Jack Hill in 1877. By 1891, 6,000 tons of coal had been raised from shafts. The Gunnedah Colliery Company was registered in May 1899 (G. Eardley; 1977)

In April 1873 John Sutherland, the Minister for Public Works, set out a policy to complete the main trunk railways prior to the construction of any branch lines. By 1877 this policy was overthrown by pastoral interests when, in response to behind-the-scenes lobbying by Thomas G Dangar, the powerful MP for Gwyder, the NSW Parliament voted for a branch line to head off to Gunnedah before the Great Northern Line reached Tamworth. The move laid the foundations for the era of ‘railway mania’ between 1877 and 1887 when railway leagues were established in towns and villages across the inland to lobby for branch lines to serve their era. In the five years from December 1879, the NSW railway network increased 136 per cent, dubbing the period as the ‘Great Railway Years’ (Forsyth, 2009).

The single line from Breeza to Gunnedah opened on 11 September 1879, with the station opening for service on the same day. The construction contract for the Werris Creek to Gunnedah section was awarded to William Watkins on 25 September 1877 (Forsyth, 2009).

Tenders for the construction of the Gunnedah station buildings, platform, carriage docks, station master’s residence, goods warehouse and cattle yards was contracted to A H Scouller in 1878. A local builder, Joseph Conlon, later erected the engine shed in 1879 (Weir and Phillips, 2003).

The original passenger station building was a typical Whitton building, identical to the one built at Breeza (now demolished). The financial concerns experienced by John Whitton during this period are reflected in the size of the building, which at just 71 feet in length was considered extremely small, even for a regional station. Financial constraints were also evident in the lack of ornamentation around windows and doors, and the absence of finials (a common 19th century decorative feature). A further indicator that the first Gunnedah station building stood at the bottom of Whitton’s design hierarchy of passenger stations lies in the absence of rear access points, and the lack of heating provided in the open waiting room (Weir and Phillips, 2003).

In September 1915 the original station building was replaced with a much larger structure. At the same time, the platform was enlarged, as was the locomotive water supply capacity. The new station building featured an elaborate cantilevered awning, enlarged detached toilet facilities, a new ladies waiting room, general waiting room, booking and parcels offices, and a station master’s office at the western end of the building. Evidence suggests that Gunnedah’s continued economic and social growth in the 40 years since the stations opening necessitated the replacement of the original station building, with the town’s population and the exportation of wheat and coal rapidly expanding. By 1955 the station precinct included a wheat depot, with an additional depot constructed in 1966 to meet the demands of this fast growing local industry (Weir and Phillips, 2003).

In 1990 the restructure of passenger services in the North West saw to the implementation of CountryLink coach services to replace rail at Gunnedah and other locations, which remained in placed for over three years. In November 1993 passenger trains returned to Gunnedah in the form of a daily ‘Xplorer’ service to and from Sydney. Despite the demise of regular passenger services, railway transportation of coal and wheat still remain crucial industries upon which the Gunnedah economy is largely reliant on (Weir and Phillips, 2003).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Transporting coal and minerals-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Servicing the pastoral industry-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Transporting livestock and their products-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Evolution of design in railway engineering and architecture-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Gunnedah railway precinct has a history of over 140 years. It has been the site of significant activity servicing the pastoral and mining industries. The c1913 station building reflects through its size and quality the importance of the railway to Gunnedah and the region at the time of its construction and how Gunnedah had grown in importance since construction of the original station building.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The station building has aesthetic significance as a large, Edwardian-style building consisting of pavilions that project out from the street façade featuring large windows with curved heads. As a prominent civic building, the station building contributes to the townscape of Gunnedah.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Gunnedah railway precinct is of social significance to the local community having performed an important role in supporting the town as a regional centre for agricultural commerce and thereby being the site of significant activity and employment. The railway station contributes to the local community’s sense of place and remaining in general use provides a connection to the local community’s past.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Gunnedah station building is rare as a substantial building featuring Edwardian architectural detailing built at a time during which station building designs were generally simple. It is also rare as one of a few surviving, substantial station buildings in the north-west of NSW.
Integrity/Intactness: The station building has a good level of integrity.
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 registerSRA s.170 Register    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA179State Rail Authority  No
Heritage and Conservation Register State Rail Authority of NSW199381Paul Davies for SRA  No
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 ORH  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCottee, J.M2004Stations on the track: selected New South Wales country railway stations: an historical overview
WrittenG. Eardley1977A Short History of the Gunnedah Colliery Co. Ltd
WrittenMcKillop, R2009NSW Railways (RailCorp) Thematic History
WrittenState Rail Authority of NSW, Archives Section1993How and why of station names
WrittenWeir and Phillips2003Gunnedah Railway Station: Conservation management Plan

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: 4801179


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