Thirroul Railway Crew Barracks | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Thirroul Railway Crew Barracks

Item details

Name of item: Thirroul Railway Crew Barracks
Other name/s: Barracks Artists Studio
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Residence/Quarters
Primary address: Church Street, Thirroul, NSW 2515
Local govt. area: Wollongong City


North: a line 5m north of the barracks; East: fence along the railway tracks; South: southern edge of the driveway into the barracks, approximately 15m south of the barracks; West: boundary of railway property fronting Church Street.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Church StreetThirroulWollongong City  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Thirroul Railway Crew Barracks - including the barracks building and its garden - are of local historical significance as evidence of railway crew accommodation associated with the former Thirroul locomotive depot in the early 20th century, providing information on the past operational systems of the NSW Railways. The barracks are of aesthetic significance as a simple 1913 brick barracks building to a standard design of the NSW Railways.
Date significance updated: 08 Oct 13
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.


Designer/Maker: NSW Railways
Builder/Maker: NSW Railways
Physical description: PRECINCT ELEMENTS
Railway Crew Barracks (1913)
Fencing: high cyclone wire mesh fencing and gates to Church Street and railway boundaries.

The railway crew barracks is accessed via a driveway off Church Street, opposite (to the east of) the intersection of Church Street and Roxburgh Avenue. The building is within a securely fenced enclosure with garden plantings and currently used as the "Barracks Artists Studio". The building is located to the northwest, at some distance from Thirroul Railway Station, in what was the locomotive depot.

Exterior: The railway barracks is a single storey stretcher bond brick rectangular building with gabled corrugated steel roofing with gablets each side towards the northern end, over the original dining area. The building features verandas to both east and west sides, encompassed under the main gabled roof. Gable ends have small rectangular timber vents and timber tongue and grooved boarded eaves. There are no chimneys. The windows have curved brick sills. There are a number of window and door openings, particularly on the west side, which have been bricked up. Doors are timber tongue and grooved. Windows are timber framed double hung with a single vertical glazing bar to each pane. Verandas have timber valances to north and south ends. The guttering to the verandas has failed and is missing from the eastern side. The veranda floors are brick edged with asphalt surfacing which is broken up in places and covers over wall vents in a number of places (this is not the original veranda flooring). Verandas have timber posts on brick and concrete bases, in some cases the bottoms of the posts are rotted. On the east elevation there is one timber flush door with a fanlight, with concrete applied to the inner faces (reveals) of the doorway, indicating this is an altered door opening.

Interior: Originally a series of rooms with no internal access between the rooms, with shared bathrooms at the northern end. The roof gablets mark the location of the original dining room, towards the northern end of the building. One internal wall has been removed. There are Waratah pattern plaster vents to walls; timber tongue and grooved ceilings, painted brick walls, and some 1920s timber battened ceilings in several rooms. There is a sheering crack in the building's interior where an internal wall has been removed.

There are remnant garden plantings in the vicinity of the barracks, including at least one rose bush. There are also large eucalyptus trees, particularly to the north of the barracks.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Railway Crew Barracks (1913): Moderate. There is extensive cracking throughout the building. Damage to gable end eaves at the southern end. The veranda floors (not original) require repair. Guttering to veranda requires attention.
Date condition updated:10 Dec 09
Modifications and dates: 1964: Associated locomotive depot closed and related structures were subsequently removed.
N.d: Veranda flooring has been raised, some window and door openings altered
N.d: Removal of one internal wall.
Current use: Barracks Artists Studio
Former use: Railway Crew Barracks


Historical notes: In the 1870’s when settlement of the area began, all the area north of Wollongong was known as Bulli and Thirroul was called North Bulli. Before white settlement Aboriginals belonging to the "Thurrural" tribe roamed this area. There were many different ways of spelling the name which translates to "the place or valley of the cabbage tree palms"

Robbinsville was a former name for the village of Thirroul. The village was called Robbinsville after Frederick Robbins, who owned land in the area. The name was adopted at a meeting of inhabitants of the area in February 1880.

The isolated section of the Illawarra Railway was built in 1887 from near Stanwell Park to Yallah as a single line, and was finally connected to the northern (Sydney) section of the railway on 3rd October 1888. Thirroul station opened with the name Robbinsville having a small timber station building with timber platform in 1887, and was renamed Thirroul in 1891.

The Thirroul Locomotive Depot was built in 1913 to service the growing number of locomotives required on the Illawarra and South Coast Railway Lines to handle coal, goods and passenger trains needed for the region. The Locomotive Depot at Thirroul remained the largest in the region until it closed in 1964.

As such it became a central point for locomotive drivers to have rest and meal facilities and after the completion of the depot the decision was made to erect the standard brick barracks building containing bed rooms, kitchen, dining and bath rooms.

It is possibly one of the last of this 19th century modified type to be built, for most built after this date had internal corridor access to the bedrooms.

Following the depot closure the building became used for railway offices and for storage purposes. It is now leased to an artists cooperative.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Servicing and accommodating railway employees-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The barracks are of historical significance as evidence of railway crew accommodation associated with the former Thirroul locomotive depot in the early 20th century, providing information on the past operational systems of the NSW Railways.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The barracks are of aesthetic significance as a simple 1917 brick barracks building to a standard design of the NSW Railways.
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 past.
SHR Criteria f)
Extant railway crew barracks are increasingly rare: this is one of only two on the Illawarra line (the other being a 1924 concrete building at Bomaderry). There are however other better examples of this type of building in other parts of NSW.
SHR Criteria g)
Representative of early 20th century standard design brick railway crew barracks buildings, few of which remain (other examples at Hornsby and Mt. Victoria).
Integrity/Intactness: Relatively intact with some window/door opening alterations, and at least one interior wall removed. The context has altered with the removal of the locomotive depot with which the building was associated.
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.


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

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2009Brief locality history from
WrittenDavid Sheedy2009Historical Research for RailCorp S170 Register Update

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: 4804461

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