Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box

Item details

Name of item: Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Signal Box
Primary address: Gas Works Ln, Lithgow, NSW 2790
Parish: Lett
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Lithgow


1 metre curtilage around the structure in all directions.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Gas Works LnLithgowLithgowLettCookPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box is of state significance as a large and imposing elevated timber signal box that has remained in continuous operation since 1925. The signal box retains most of its original equipment and is an excellent example of a traditional early 1900's elevated timber railway signal box, sympathetically adapted to operate electric light signals and power activated points mechanisms. It is now one of the largest signal boxes remaining from a relatively small sub-group of standard railway building types. Located close to Eskbank Railway Station, the signal box has strong associations with the surrounding industrial history of Lithgow, and remains as an important element in the evolution of railway operations in the area.
Date significance updated: 02 Dec 08
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.


Designer/Maker: New South Wales Government Railways
Builder/Maker: NSW Government Railways
Construction years: 1885-1925
Physical description: BUILDINGS
Coal Stage Signal Box, type I, timber elevated (1925)

External: A large rectangular elevated timber framed traditional signal box of a standard design with a hipped corrugated iron roof, lapped timber weatherboard wall cladding and timber framed sliding multi-pane sash windows. At the east end there is a recent steel framed staircase with a landing above the ground floor entry door.

Internal: The signal control room's walls are clad with flat beaded edge boards with flat asbestos cement panels sheeting to the ceiling. The signal and point control level mechanism remains of 64 levers while 41 still operating levers have been sympathetically adapted to operate the power light signals, points and track diagram. Also retained is an older model of telephone system, bells and other signal tools. The ground floor has exposed timber frame and ceiling/floor with the chains and rods of the interlocking lever mechanism. The space is also used for storage purposes.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The condition of the building and equipment is good.
Date condition updated:10 Dec 09
Modifications and dates: 1957: Signal system adapted for electric light signals.
Current use: Railway Signal Box
Former use: Nil


Historical notes: The line opened in 1869 but there was no station for Lithgow until 1877.

Lithgow Coal Stage Box is the third built in this locality and was constructed in 1925 to cater for the expanded marshalling yards and locomotive depot which replaced the original Eskbank loco Depot. It was a standard design of the period. The box takes its name from the 1888 unique on-line overhead coaling bunker, now demolished, but which existed when the box was built and was situated immediately westwards. It controlled access to and from the locomotive depot, local colliery branch lines as well as locomotives using the 1888 on-line overhead coaling bunker. Initially, it contained 64 mechanical levers but now many of those are not in use. In 1957 with electrification of the Lithgow Yard its signalling system was adapted for changing technology including electric light signalling. The original timber steps have been replaced by metal steps.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Signalling and safe working-
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]
Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box is of historical significance as one of the largest and most intact traditional timber signal boxes remaining in the State and continues in operating condition dating from 1925. It is part of the larger Lithgow railway historic precinct and marks an important phase in the evolution of railway operations in the city.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Coal Stage signal box has strong associations with the earlier coaling operations as well as the branch colliery and other industrial lines in particular the State Mine and Power Station line.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Coal Stage Signal Box is of aesthetic significance as an excellent and intact example of the traditional larger timber elevated signal box.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Signal Box has a high level of both technical and research potential for its ability to demonstrate characteristics and design requirements of standard elevated timber boxes of the 1920s as well as changing technology in the signalling system.
SHR Criteria f)
Coal Stage Signal Box is relatively rare as an operating box of this vintage.
SHR Criteria g)
The Signal Box is a representative example of traditional timber elevated signal boxes of its design. Other examples at Homebush, Parramatta, Mount Victoria, Hamilton, (brick) Lithgow Yard, Katoomba, Newnes Junction (weatherboard).
Integrity/Intactness: The Signal Box retains a high level of intactness, and its integrity is excellent due to its operational status.
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:

The following site-specific exemptions were endorsed as part of the listing of the place on the State Heritage Register through Government Gazette on August 30 2013: 1. Installation of modern signalling equipment and services, provided it does not interfere with the existing significant equipment and layout, or impact on heritage significance. 2. Relocation or removal of existing internal equipment of no heritage significance 3. Office fit-out alterations including the replacement, relocation or addition of non-structural internal partitions, workstations or other furnishings that do not alter or add openings, walls, or structural fabric that has been identified as being significant; and have no adverse impact on significant furnishings, layouts, fabric or spaces. 4. Upgrade, repair or replacement of existing exterior staircase with similar or compatible structure, providing there is no adverse impact on the heritage significance of the place. 5. All work to heritage fabric shall be undertaken by qualified tradesmen with practical experience in the conservation of similar items. ST 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     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 City Plan Heritage  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenARHS2009Historical information prepared for S170 update project
WrittenForsyth J.H1974Historical Notes on Railway Lines
WrittenSharp, S.1984Survey of Railway Structures in NSW
WrittenSingleton, C.C.1950‘Station Arrangement son the Blue Mountains’Bulletins Nos.153/4 ARHS Bulletins Nos.153/4
WrittenTaaffe, R.T.1990The Use and Selection of Materials in Railway Signal Box Construction
WrittenTaaffe, R.T.1985The Development of Railway and Tramway Signal Boxes in NSW 1855-1912

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: 4800108

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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