Granville Archaeological Site of Original 1855 Parramatta Railway Station & Yard | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Granville Archaeological Site of Original 1855 Parramatta Railway Station & Yard

Item details

Name of item: Granville Archaeological Site of Original 1855 Parramatta Railway Station & Yard
Other name/s: Parramatta Junction, Dog Trap Road
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Location: Lat: -33.82955 Long: 151.00581
Primary address: end of Mort Street, Granville, NSW 2142
Parish: Liberty Plains
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Parramatta


South: RailCorp property boundary fronting properties Railway Parade;North: RailCorp property boundary fronting properties at 1 & 3 Mort Street and 1 Woodville Rd; West: Eastern side of Woodville Rd; East: Mort Street alignment. This curtilage is located approximately between 21km 950m and 22km 100m.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
end of Mort StreetGranvilleParramattaLiberty PlainsCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The former site of the 1855 Parramatta Junction Station is unique and rare as the first railway terminus station and yard in NSW. However, no above surface fabric remains are visible and the significance and potential of the sub-surface archaeology is unclear. Therefore the site is significant for its archaeological potential which may demonstrate the earliest railway building practices, design and station layouts in NSW.
Date significance updated: 25 Aug 09
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.


Builder/Maker: William Randle
Construction years: 1854-1855
Physical description: The site is located to the west of the south end of Mort Street between Woodville Road. The archaeological site is located under the Parramatta ‘Y’ link, and next to and under the main western railway.

Evidence of any buried remains are no longer visible above ground. However, previous archaeological investigations by Edward Higginbotham & Associates made in 1994 uncovered remains of the platform, station office, turntable and other items.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
1994 archaeological test excavations revealed a number of sandstone, timber and a few brick elements that related to the original station's goods platform, station platform and possibly fireplace. It is unknown however, if any of these remnants of the former station were kept in-situ. If they were kept in-situ they would have been disturbed during the construction of 'Y' Link to Parramatta as their location overlays where the current tracks are located. The excavation also confirmed that the original station building was completely demolished. The findings of the previous 1994 archaeological investigation included the following descriptions of the site elements:

Station Building, timber (1855)
Goods Shed (c1855)
Gate Keeper’s house (c1856)
Station House (c1856)

Platform, timber or stone faced (1855)
Station and Loco Water Supply
Locomotive Turntable (1856)

External: The main station platform and shed is assumed to be approximately 197-200 feet (60-61 metres) long and 30 feet (9 metres) wide with the office annex measured 108 x 13 feet (33 x 4 metres). It is also assumed that Sydney and Parramatta Stations were constructed to the same design and consisted of timber framed station building with corrugated iron roof.

Internal: Documentary evidence (Minute Book of the Railway Commissioner’s Meeting) indicates that more than three staff members were employed in the first 12 month of the station use including a Station Master and two clerks, together with porters. The possible rooms within the station building would consist of an office, a ticket office, a storeroom or meal room, and possibly a parcels office. The document also made reference to public toilets, lease of a refreshment room and a bookstall. It is also assumed that there was a waiting room. These facilities would be housed within the office annex.

GOODS SHED (c1855)
As goods were not carried until 1856, it was assumed that this shed was built together with the Sydney goods shed, which was approved for construction on 15 October 1855. From the 1858 plan, the building measured 33 feet wide by 235 feet long (10 by 71.6 metres) and covered the siding. Other details are unknown. It is presumed that this shed and other facilities on the down side of the main line continued as a goods yard, even after the opening of a goods yard at Parramatta in late 1860. No record has been found of the date of removal of the shed.

A gatekeeper’s house is shown on a plan, dated between 1898 and 1901. The house is indicated on the down side of the line beyond the Woodville Road crossing. Although, the construction date could not be verified, in accordance with the then practice there would have been a gatekeeper appointed with the opening of the extension to Liverpool, suggesting its construction by 1856. A record exists of the Commissioners deciding in October 1857 to provide cottages at level crossings for gatekeepers. The cottages would be occupied by platelayers (now fettlers) "whose wife could attend to the gates free of charge". In 1877 a major bushfire is reported, "burning down the Dog Trap Road Gate House and the Station Master’s house only saved by the resolute efforts of the neighbours". This would suggest that there has been more than one gatehouse over the years, but no other references have been found. The house was sold and removed in 1909.

The Station House building would not have been erected until 1856 as the contract for the Station House was let on 6 November 1855. No information was found on its history. It is shown on a plan, dated between 1898 and 1901. Local history records show that this house was sold and removed in 1909, together with the adjacent gatehouse. When this house was demolished it is claimed that copper coins and tokens from J.J. Hanks, a Sydney grocer, dating from 1854, were found under the hearth stone. They confirm the construction date of the house.

The station had a single platform and an annex along one side for the offices. The platform had a timber face with timber base plates forming the foundation of the superstructure and sturdy timber support structure unlike the other stations, which were constructed concurrently with Parramatta Junction, including Newtown and Ashfield, and had a stone faced platform while Burwood and Homebush had timber faced platform with dirt infill. These stations were ready at the time of the opening day.

Initially the locomotives may have obtained their water direct from Duck Creek, but a few months after opening the Commissioners instructed their Engineer, Mr Wallace, to investigate the possibility of piping a supply to Parramatta. No reference was found for the erection of equipment at the first Parramatta Station or the yard.

In the absence of any original information, it was apparent that the temporary terminus at Parramatta had only basic facilities. The yard track layout comprised the main line and the platform loop, but this would not have been sufficient to handle the maximum of three trains in the yard at the one time on the opening day. Other sidings assumed to have been present including a long engine siding or one or two sidings that were already laid for the goods shed or for the construction of camp and works.

One reference has been found to stockyards being erected, adjacent to the Station Master’s house in Woodville Road at the time of opening. However, no supporting evidence or documentation was noted to clarify this secondary source of material. It was assumed that these yards were part of Randle’s Paddock (the construction camp that was located beside the station) as stock was not carried initially. They may have held the horses used in the construction of the railway.

No documentary evidence was found to indicate if the engines were turned at Parramatta or ran tender first back to Sydney. It is anticipated that there was only one locomotive turntable in the colony at the time and that would be required for Sydney. The second and third loco turntables are shown arriving on 24 May 1856. These turntables are listed as costing £187-6-7 landed each. Since the single turntable is shown costing £419-2-6, it is reasonable to assume the entry for one is in error and should show two, making the unit cost £209-11-3 each. This would allow a turntable to be installed at both Sydney and Parramatta prior to the opening of the first Parramatta Station. The 1858 plan shows a turntable on the down side of the line on what would now be called an engine siding. Based on the above information, the Parramatta turntable would have been 40 feet (12 metres) in diameter. This turntable was not removed on the closing of the station in 1860, but still existed to at least 1885.
Date condition updated:16 Feb 09
Modifications and dates: 1995 - Construction of Y-Link likely to have further disturbed any relics.
Further information: One of the 1855 Railway Sleepers uncovered from the 1994 Archaeological Survey is now located in the RailCorp Moveable Heritage Collection.
Current use: Railway formation with archaeological remnants
Former use: Railway station and yard


Historical notes: On 2 December 1854 the Government passed an Act to set up a Board of three Commissioners to undertake the construction of Railways in New South Wales, including extensions of the Sydney Railway Company railway beyond Parramatta. The Board had the power to acquire Sydney Railway Company property and works. The Commissioners were appointed and first met on the 10 January 1855. The Directors of the Sydney Railway Company had voted on the 3 January 1855 under the new legislation, and requested the Government to take over the Company and repay the shareholders. The Sydney Railway Company virtually became the Construction Group for the Commissioners until the formal takeover on 3 September 1855.

On 23 July 1855, James Wallace presented to the Government Commissioners plans for the construction of "such temporary stations as may be required. These could be erected in three weeks." There is no record of the Commissioners approving the estimates, but after considering the plans, they gave the Chief Commissioner authority on 1 August 1855 "to accept the tenders for their construction, if he considered them desirable". On 7 August 1855, the Chief Commissioner informed his colleagues that he had authorized the construction of the temporary stations according to the specifications to be completed in a few weeks. Mr Randle, who had nearly all the other local contracts, was the successful tenderer.

The first recorded passenger train to travel the length of the line was on Saturday, 18 August 1855, when a train conveying "upwards of 60 passengers" left the temporary Engine Shed and reached the Parramatta Station site with perfect success and safety. No mention was made of the station, but since the contract had only been approved about 10 days previously, it is most unlikely that there was a station.

The official train to test the line before services commenced ran on Saturday 22 September 1855. It consisted of two first class carriages and twelve wagons filled with sand. It conveyed the Commissioners and a number of the leading engineers of Sydney, who all agreed that the railway was "perfectly secure for general traffic."

The opening of the railway was arranged for Wednesday, 26 September 1855, since this was the anniversary day of the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Line, 25 years earlier (it was the first steam powered passenger line in Great Britain). The two terminal and other intermediate stations had apparently been completed. When the first public railway in NSW opened the western terminus, called Parramatta Junction, was located at Granville, to the west of the present Granville Station. In 1880 the station site was relocated to approximately its present position and renamed Granville.

The station building at the Parramatta Junction terminus was always a ‘temporary’ structure and was closed with the opening of the Western Line to Blacktown on 4 July 1860. Its Sydney counterpart however, survived for 17 years. The date of the demolition of the original Parramatta station is unknown. At the time of the closure of the terminus a new station was opened in the centre of the town of Parramatta, on the site still in use today.

Today, the site of the first Parramatta station lies between the main western and southern lines and contains archaeological remains of the platform, station offices and drainage. The site has been covered with soil and no remains are visible.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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-
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 Goods yard-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Railway celebrations and commemorations-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site is of historical significance as the site of the first railway terminus station and yard in NSW, and as the site of the original western terminus from Sydney to Parramatta opened in 1855. The station was part of the second steam powered passenger railway line to open in Australia (the first steam powered passenger rail line ran between Melbourne and Port Melbourne in 1954).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The site has the archaeological potential to demonstrate the earliest railway building practices, design and layouts in NSW. The opportunity for interpretation, education and display exists.
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 e)
[Research potential]
The site has archaeological potential as the site of the first terminus station and yard site in NSW as suggested by the 1994 test excavations (Higginbotham, E., 'Report on the archaeological test-excavation of the site of the 1855 Parramatta Railway Terminus, Mort Street, Granville, N.S.W.').
SHR Criteria f)
This site is unique as the site of the first railway terminus and yard in NSW. The former site of the 1855 Parramatta Junction Station is rare as none of the stations of the original Sydney to Parramatta railway line survive. In 1994, the Parramatta Junction was believed to be the only one where underground remains may survive largely intact (the earliest surviving station building in NSW is located at Fairfield dating from 1856).
Integrity/Intactness: The site is believed to have a high number of remains demonstrating a broad variety of structures across the site. However, this could not be verified.
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:

1. Conservation principles: Conserve cultural heritage significance and minimise impacts on heritage values and fabric in accordance with the ‘Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance’. 2. Specialist advice: Seek advice from a qualified heritage specialist during all phases of a proposed project from feasibility, concept and option planning stage; detailed design; heritage approval and assessment; through to construction and finalisation. 3. Documentation: Prepare a Statement of Heritage Impact (SOHI) to assess, minimise and prevent heritage impacts as part of the assessment and approval phase of a project. Prepare a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) prior to proposing major works (such as new additions, change of use or proposed demolition) at all places of State significance and all complex sites of Local significance. 4. Maintenance and repair: Undertake annual inspections and proactive routine maintenance works to conserve heritage fabric in accordance with the ‘Minimum Standards of Maintenance & Repair’. 5. Movable heritage: Retain in situ and care for historic contents, fixtures, fittings, equipment and objects which contribute to cultural heritage significance. Return or reinstate missing features or relocated items where opportunities arise. 6. Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage: Consider all aspects of potential heritage significance as part of assessing and minimising potential impacts, including Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage. 7. Unidentified heritage items: Heritage inventory sheets do not describe or capture all contributory heritage items within an identified curtilage (such as minor buildings, structures, archaeology, landscape elements, movable heritage and significant interiors and finishes). Ensure heritage advice is sought on all proposed changes within a curtilage to conserve heritage significance. 8. Recording and register update: Record changes at heritage places through adequate project records and archival photography. Notify all changes to the Section 170 Heritage & Conservation Register administrator upon project completion.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register  18 Mar 10   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 City Plan Heritage  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDavid Sheedy2001Granville Site S2 SHI Form
WrittenDon Hagarty1995ARHS Bulletin April Vol 46
WrittenE. Higginbotham & Assoc1994Report on the Archaeological Test-excavation of the 1855 Parramatta Railway Terminus, Mort St Granville, N.S.W.
WrittenHagarty, D.2005Sydney Railway 1848-1857
WrittenTed Higgbotham & Assoc Archaeological Survey fmr Parramatta Station

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: 4800107

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