Maitland Railway Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Maitland Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Maitland Railway Precinct
Other name/s: West Maitland
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Railway Street, Maitland, NSW 2320
Parish: Maitland
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Maitland


The listing boundary for the signal box includes the trestle supports and the pedestrian walkway connecting with the station footbridge and extends for a distance of 10m in all directions
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Railway StreetMaitlandMaitlandMaitlandNorthumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Maitland Railway Precinct is of state significance as a highly significant railway location dating from the earliest phase of railway construction in NSW, with construction at Maitland beginning in 1858 only three years after completion of the first railway infrastructure in Sydney in 1855. The precinct consists of a variety of railway buildings and structures exhibiting a diverse range of railway buildings and architectural designs. The first class, station building is highly significant as a grand, first-class19th century building, highly ornamented and with a unique relationship to platform 1 through an extended awning down to the realigned and lowered line. The island platform station building and booking office also demonstrate the transition into 20th century railway architectural styles. The other buildings at the station including the signal box are significant and indicate the importance of Maitland as a commercial centre and a junction station for the private railway line to Cessnock. Maitland was also the furthest link of the Newcastle commuter rail system up until residential expansion further north and north-east in the 1980s.
Date significance updated: 26 Nov 09
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.


Construction years: 1880-1956
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station buildings: Platform 1 - type 5, first class (1880)
Station buildings: Platform 2 & 3 - type 11 (1914)
Platform 4 & 5 - waiting shed (c1933)
Booking office (1948)
Platforms (1880 & 1915)

Signal Box, type I (1956)

Out-of shed (c1914)
Guards, Porters and Shunters room (c1914)

Platform 1 (1880)
This is a major first class station building, type 5, constructed of brick and featuring many decorative features such as stone quoins at the corners of the building; decorative, rendered cornices, window sills and chimney shafts; cast iron verandah posts with Corinthian style capitals; bay windows; doors with fanlights and panelling, and a cupola projecting skyward from the gabled, corrugated, colourbond sheeting roof.

The building is lineally planned with a main body flanked by two pavilions with transverse gabled roofs, which are adjoined by lateral wings. Two additional small, weatherboard buildings with hipped roofs are located to the east of the station building. The building layout consists of a telegraph office, porter's and lamp room, Station Master’s office, parcels office, ticket office, booking office, refreshment rooms, ladies refreshment room, general waiting room, ladies waiting room, and toilets. The entrance is covered by a verandah with cast iron posts. The platform awning is supported on cast iron columns and brackets and extends down to the realigned and lowered line. The roof is now clad in corrugated iron (formerly slate). The roadside windows are timber, round arched with decorative cornices while the platform side windows are square. The doors are timber and feature raised panelling. Opposite the front entrance is a covered walkway consisting of two brick, open ended arches supporting a gabled, corrugated, Colorbond sheeting roof.

Platform 2 & 3 (1914)
The building is a type 11, brick, island platform building with a gabled, corrugated Colorbond sheeting roof. The building consists of cast iron, cantilevered awnings to both platform faces with timber valances from the building to the awning ends and supported by ornate corbels. The brickwork is a Flemish bond. The windows are timber, double hung sashes.

Platform 4 & 5 (c1933)
Small, weatherboard waiting shed approximately 9.5m long with a gabled, corrugated, Colorbond sheeting roof and cantilevered awning. The building consists of only one room with openings on both platform faces and two timber, fixed sash windows on both platform sides of the building with a 2x3 panel arrangement.

Single storey, yellow brick building with a flat roof and curved awning supported by timber posts. The building is L- shaped. The building has an Art-deco aesthetic with a generally simple design without ornamentation and a curved street elevation where the public entrance is located.

The building consisted internally of an enquiries counter, three ticket counters, a telegraph office and a clerk’s office.

PLATFORMS (1880 & 1915)
Platform 1 (1880), and Platforms 2, 3, 4, 5 (c1915). Platform 1 is a straight side platform brick face with asphalt surface. Other platforms are island platforms with brick face, Platform 4 has cement render. There is also another platform (unnumbered, nd) of open steel rail frame and concrete deck.

Rivetted, steel bridge consisting of a vertical steel plate (plate web girders) with pairs of angle iron rivetted top and bottom to form flanges.

Large timber, steel framed, elevated signal box, type I, located on the Down side of the railway line. The structure consists of two storeys with the upper storey not as wide as the lower. The roof is hipped and terracotta tiled. The windows are aluminium.

OUT-OF SHED (c1914)
Small, brick building with gabled, corrugated, Colorbond sheeting roof, slightly overhanging all sides supported by timber braces. Flemish bond brickwork. One timber door with transom window and rendered cornice. Located on platforms 4 & 5.

Small, brick building with gabled, corrugated, Colorbond sheeting roof, slightly overhanging all sides supported by timber braces, with a chimney. Flemish bond brickwork. Timber, four panelled door with transom window bordered by rendered cornice. Timber window on platform side. Located at the Singleton end of the original platform, platform 1.

Mature frangipani on platform.

Heritage-style two-arm lamp posts on platforms.
Metal wall-mounted brackets and signs throughout the station.
Cast iron downpipes, drains and wall vents throughout.
Original and early door and window hardware (locks, handles, sash locks and lifts etc).
Original timber rollover indicator boards behind Perspex in waiting room.
Five freestanding timber benches in waiting rooms.
One stainless steel bubbler, one cast iron bubbler on platform 2/3.
Five station name boards – metal lettering mounted onto timber. One fixed to brickwork of overbridge. The other four mounted to posts made from rail-track.
Large timber-framed, fixed painted mural for SteamFest.
Seth Thomas clock in SM office
Large, wall-mounted electric clock on Platform 1.
Floriated glass in large front window – early and recent matching reproduction glass.
Red wall-mounted post box on outside wall of station building.
Non-RailCorp Platform No 2 and 3 Next Train signs.
Remnant rail-track fencing behind out-of-shed building.
Several plaques installed over years to front façade of building and to station forecourt.
In storage: original timber fire surround and cast iron sink in, one blue and white (non-RailCorp) painted timber “Maitland” name board, collection of decorative cast iron bridge railing sections, two early solid timber doors, tall timber ladder incised with “NSWGR”, timber stepladder incised with “NSWTD”, collection of framed historic photos in SM office.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The precinct buildings and structures are generally in a good condition.
Date condition updated:11 Sep 09
Modifications and dates: c1990 - footbridge was upgraded.
2001 - station upgrades involved the installation of lifts down to each platform from the footbridge, and some minor restoration work to the main station building, including the replacement of any rotting window frames, and the replacement of asbestos cement roofing.
Further information: Signal box decommissioned c2000 and has been leased to a local rail interest group.
Current use: Operational railway station
Former use: Passenger station and railway yard


Historical notes: Maitland railway precinct is located on the Main Northern Line extending from Sydney north to the Queensland border at the town of Wallangarra, and the junction station for the North Coast Railway line extending via Dungog, Taree, Coffs Harbour, Grafton and Casino to Brisbane in Queensland.

The area of West Maitland (now known as Maitland) had been settled by farmers from the early 1800s. By the mid 1820s, a town had formed on the site of West Maitland with 400 inhabitants. However, due to the threat of flood, an alternative site for the town was sought on a ridge, which became East Maitland (divided from West Maitland by Wallis Creek). The town of East Maitland was established as a government town to handle the administrative affairs of the local region and as such, the town was properly surveyed and planned. The advantage West Maitland had over East Maitland was access to trade and fresh water and by 1835 the town of West Maitland had developed to such an extent that it was officially recognized and proclaimed (incorporated in 1863). During the middle of the 19th century, the three towns of East Maitland, West Maitland and Morpeth dominated the affairs of the Hunter Valley. Administrative and government functions, commercial activities and port and trade activities were controlled from East Maitland, West Maitland and Morpeth, rather than Newcastle (Kass, 2005: 23).

Following the completion of the first railway from Sydney to Parramatta Junction in 1855, proposals for the first railways to the other parts of NSW were driven primarily by pastoral communities seeking improved transport for their produce from inland centres such as Goulburn, Bathurst, Singleton and Muswellbrook (Upper Hunter). Early additions to the Great Northern Railway included Victoria Street to Maitland (opened 1858) and Maitland to Singleton (1863). These were followed by extensions to Muswellbrook in 1869, Aberdeen in 1870 and to Scone in 1871 (Rappoport, 2001; SRA, 1993).

The single line from East Maitland to West Maitland (Maitland) opened on 27 July 1858. The construction contract for the Victoria Street to Maitland section was awarded to Mark Faviel in September 1857. The station opened as West Maitland on 27 May 1858, and was renamed Maitland on 1 April 1949. The line was duplicated from East Maitland to West Maitland in 1880, and quadruplicated from East Maitland to Maitland on 29 June 1915 (Forsyth, 2009).

The existing c1880 brick and stone station building replaced the original station building and was designed to house a parcels office, ticket office, Station Master’s office, and inspector’s office, along with a waiting room, ladies lavatories, and a detached men’s toilet block. A plan dated 1914 shows the original road-side station building, accompanied by the island station building, complete with corrugated roof sheeting and awnings, stone detailing, and internally comprising a general waiting room, a ladies room and men’s and ladies lavatories. The 1914 plan also shows an out-of-shed on the third platform, and a guard's, porter's, and shunter's room on the Singleton end of the original platform.

A footbridge was added in 1913-1914.

The 1915 weatherboard and fibro cement overhead booking office was replaced in 1948 with a larger brick booking office adjacent to the main station building.

The Maitland signal box was constructed in 1956, following the Maitland floods. It was decommissioned in 1990. It was built as an elevated structure to avoid floodwaters after a previous signal box nearby was washed away.

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 crops-
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 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-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Maitland railway precinct is state significant being originally established 3 years after the first railway infrastructure in Sydney (1855) as part of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). The station is still in use today and provides a tangible link to the development of the GNR line during the 19th century as well as the development of the NSW railways generally. The GNR was an important achievement in transport and engineering within NSW. As the third main trunk rail route in NSW stretching from Sydney to the Queensland border, the line linked townships to one another as well as to Sydney leading to significant economic and social impacts for those individual townships as well as for NSW more generally. The importance of Maitland is further demonstrated through the first class station building constructed c1880 and the continuing development of the precinct with additional station buildings, a footbridge, booking office and signal box added over time until the mid 20th century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Maitland railway precinct is state significant for its aesthetic qualities, exhibiting a diverse range of railway buildings and architectural designs including a grand, 19th century, first class station building; the inter-war island platform station building; the Art-deco booking office, and the large, two storey, elevated signal box.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Maitland railway precinct is of social significance to the local community having performed an important role in supporting the town as a significant, commercial, regional centre. The railway station contributes to the local community’s sense of place, remains in general use and provides a connection to the local community’s past.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
As a collection of a diverse range of railway building and structural types as well as architectural styles, Maitland railway precinct is state significant in presenting an excellent opportunity to research the development of the NSW railways.
SHR Criteria f)
Maitland railway precinct has a rare type 5, first class building, with a unique platform/awning relationship in which the awning steps down from the elevated position of the building to platform level. The precinct is relatively rare in its diversity of railway building types and architectural styles.
SHR Criteria g)
The railway precinct has representative significance for its collection of railway structures and in particular the station building which demonstrate major regional railway facilities from the late 19th century and 20th century.
Integrity/Intactness: The station buildings have a good level of integrity/ intactness.
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
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA12State Rail Authority  No
S170 Register Update Project2009 ARTC/ ORH  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenJ.M. Cottee2004Stations on the track: Selected NSW Country Railway Stations: An Historical Overview
WrittenPaul Rappoport Architect Pty Ltd Conservation Architects & Heritage Consultants2001Conservation Management Plan: Scone railway station, Scone, NSW.
WrittenState Rail Authority of NSW1993How and why of station names

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: 4806012

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