Central Railway Station | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Central Railway Station

Item details

Name of item: Central Railway Station
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Eddy Avenue, Sydney , NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Eddy AvenueSydney Sydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The site is of national significance in relation to its operation as a rail terminus and prior to that a variety of uses and activities including The Devonshire St Cemetery, Benevolent Asylum, Carters Barracks, Sydney Mounted Police and Sydney Female refuge.
Several conservation plans and the archaeological 1995 archaeological zoning plan contain detailed statements of signifiance for individual items, sites, precincts and buildings.
Date significance updated: 13 Dec 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Physical description: This listing encompases the entire railway precinct, Bounded by Cleveland St, Railway Square, Pitt St, Eddy Ave, and Chalmers St. The site has been assessed in an archaeological zoning plan which indicated a variable survival rate of below ground remains. Several consrevation plans have been prepared for the site, including individual buildings. The 1995 Archaeological Zoning Plan assessed the area in 5 precincts, with archaeological potential ranging from low, minimal to none. In general the large scale redevelopment on the site for the present rail terminus greatly impacted on the below ground remains. Nevertheless the possibility of encountering human remains (Burials) exist, as does eveidence of the various stuctures which occupied the site prior to the present rail terminus. This includes early railway related structures. The site precincts were assessed as : Western Yard: Minimal archaeological potential. Prince ALfred Sidings: Low archaeological potential. Sydney Terminal: Low and medium archaeological potential. Sydney Yard: Low archaeological potential. A 1850s sewer runs throogh the site this is an important heritage item. During 1995/6 an archaeological monitoring brief was carried out during the remodelling of the forecourt adjacent to Eddy Ave.
Further information: Category:AG_Remnant Category:AG_Fabric Category:AG_Industrial Category:BG_ArchSite Rating:PartialDisturubance Rating:SignificantDisturubance ZoningPlan:Yes Assessment:Yes Impact:Yes Monitoring:Yes Survey:Yes Partial_X:Yes

Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Agricultural Residential Government Utilities Religion Recreation


Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani )

The precinct covers the sites of the former: Devonshire St Cemetary 1818-1888 (ehumations 1901-1902 . 30,156 human remains removed to Botany and Rookwood Cemetaries).
Cleveland Paddocks and Police Barracks: 1855, 1865-1901
Tram Depot: 1879>
Carters Barracks 1819-1848?, demolished 1870s including treadmill.
Convent of the Good Samaritan 1848> (the former debtors prison)
Sydney Female Refuge 1848/9 (the former Carters Barracks building) to 1901
Police Magistrates House 1822>. Christ Church parsonage by 1865. Benevolent Asylum 1820/1-1901
Workers housing in Randle St & Railway Parade: 1850s - 1901. 1852 initial railway terminus,
Society of Friends Meeting Place: 1860s - 1901. Central Railway Complex: 1901>

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities (none)-
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 (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Site of the first Sydney railway terminus from which the NSW rail network grew, use as a railway from 1855 to present, the site contains a purpose built mortuary station only one of five such pre 1870s buildings surviving in NSW. Site of the Benevolent Asylum, Carters Barracks, Devonshire St Cemetary an occupational history spanning from convict period to the present.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Only example of high level terminus in the counctry. Many building designed by notable architects: Barnett, Vernon & Mc Rea.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Association with siggnificant religious and historical events and institutions. The site has the potential to yield information relating to 19th century public and private welfare and charity, the policing of Sydney and burial practices.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site has the potential to contain information relating to the pre 1901 site activities, such as the cemetary, Carters Barracks, and places of refuge and asylum.
SHR Criteria f)
Largest formally planned addition to urban fabric of Sydney (Railway terminus) prior to WW1. Potential to contain archaeological remains of several inportant 19th century pubkic, convict and private institutions. This informations and sites do/did not exists elsewhere in Sydney. The railway was the largest public work in NSW undertaken between 1855-1930. The site contins a significant early sewer.
SHR Criteria g)
The site is representative of attitudes to 19th benevolence and state run and private charities for the ill and destitute
The cemetery was representative of 19th century burial practices.
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.

Recommended management:

See reports for individual recommendations. In general for the archaeology: That archaeological assessments be prepared prior to any site disturbance & redevelopment (other that approved maintenance works) , that have below ground impact. Specific recommendations in the event that human remains are uncovered; Inform Heritage Office archaeologist, apply for permit to exhume remains to Health Department, notify the State Coroner. If deemed necessary contact a physical/ biological anthropologist. Note that the 1850s sewer is a listed item in the Sydney Water s170 register. Specific recommendations for Prince Alfred Sidings: site of 3 (recently extant) buildings associated with the Central Railway. p 35, ' Potential underground archaeological resources should be conserved and excavation on the site should not take place without prior consultation with an archaeologist.' Feb 1995 report by Godden Mackay. Bibliography Cont: Godden Mackay P/L. Prince Alfred sidings, training and safety offices & survey offices. Building condition report etc. February 1995, for Railnet SRA of NSW. see bibliography for previous reports (several) Godden Mackay. Airport rail link, review of heritage report. Oct 1994. Kinhill Engineers P/L, Mary Dallas Consulting. Mc Donald Mc Phee P/L & Wendy Thorp & Iain Stuart. City rail proposed airport rail link. EIS heritage & conservation items. May 1994, Includes industrial archaeology. HLA-Envirosciences P/L. Archaeological monitoring of works at Central railway station Sydney. The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the fa├žade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Archaeological zoning plan     
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  HLA- Envirosciences. An archaeological zoning plan for Central Station and adjacent area. September 1995. Heritage Group State Projects. Central station conservation management plan. 1995 for the Dept of Public Works. David Sheedy. A conservation plan
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2425097

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