Woy Woy Railway Tunnel | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Woy Woy Railway Tunnel

Item details

Name of item: Woy Woy Railway Tunnel
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Tunnel
Primary address: Woy Woy Road, Woy Woy, NSW 2256
Local govt. area: Gosford

Boundary:

North: 10m from the end of the northern (Down) cuttings approaching the tunnel portal; South: 10m from the end of the southern (Up) cuttings approaching the tunnel portal; East: the outside of the eastern wall of the tunnel; West: the outside of the eastern wall of the tunnel. NB: This curtilage should also include archaeological remains of the navvies camps known to be in the vicinity. In 2003 Longworth noted that at the Up end portal the site boundary bulges out to 10m beyond the furthest extremity of the remains of the hotel, school, and main camp sites on the Up side. Archaeological survey is needed to confirm this curtilage. It is likely to be sizable. Access was not possible in early 2009 due to work being undertaken around the tunnel at both ends.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Woy Woy RoadWoy WoyGosford  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Woy Woy Railway Tunnel has state significance, as at the time of its construction it was the longest tunnel in Australia and was recognised as one of two major engineering feats on the Short North line, the other being the Hawkesbury River Rail Bridge. The tunnel has associations with the linking of Sydney and Newcastle by rail and remains an essential component of this stretch of line. The tunnel has aesthetic significance as it provides a powerful aesthetic break in the rail journey between Sydney and the Central Coast separating the rugged beauty along Mullet Creek fro m the flat urban sprawl of Woy Woy and Gosford. Along with other tunnels on the Short North line it adds to the aesthetic significance of the line as a whole with its man made engineering elements contrasting with the natural surrounds of the Hawkesbury River region, demonstrating the skills and technology available at the time of construction and a high degree of engineering achievement in building a railway line in difficult terrain.

The demolition tunnel is historically significant in demonstrating the extraordinary preparations that were completed in 1942 in the event of the invasion, for the purpose of disabling railway infrastructure.
Date significance updated: 02 Feb 17
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.

Description

Designer/Maker: E-in-C John Whitton's office
Builder/Maker: George Blunt
Construction years: 1884-1888
Physical description: TUNNEL (1886)
Woy Woy Tunnel is a 1.79km long double track railway tunnel passing beneath a sandstone bridge between Brisbane Water and Mullet Creek, NSW. The tunnel is of brick construction throughout. The tunnel was originally built for double track service and thus did not require widening when the line was duplicated in 1906. The brick portals feature a brick string course, but are otherwise plain. The tunnel is horseshoe shaped, straight and has an average 1 in 150 gradient. There is a long cutting in bedrock leading to both portals.Mesh fencing and gates have also been added around and above the portals and nearby embankments.

There are a number of small tunnels cut into the rock above the railway tunnel. It is not clear if they were associated with the construction of the tunnel or other mining activity in the area.

DEMOLITION TUNNEL AND CHAMBER (1942)
A small tunnel directly above the main tunnel at the Newcastle end (northern portal) of Woy Woy tunnel.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS OF NAVVIES CAMP
This site was not inspected in early 2009 due to work occurring at both end of the tunnel portal including tree felling. According to Longworth (1997), remains of a camp, school and hotel remain on the Up (southern) end of the tunnel. These remains may consist of brick or stone footings, artefact deposits and terracing. It is possible the archaeological site is extensive as up to 800 men were reported have worked on construction and it likely that many of them lived on site, some with families.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Tunnel (1886) - Good
Demolition Tunnel (1942) - Good
Archaeological sites - unknown
Date condition updated:01 Jun 09
Modifications and dates: 1960: Electrification through the tunnel, provision of overhead catenary and contact wire, with associated hardware.
1960s: Various track upgrading carried out within the tunnel.
late 1980s: Installation of a new road bed, drainage, concrete sleepers and heavy ballast. Also in the 1980s, the planned use of certain designs double-deck electric rollingstock on the Sydney-Newcastle corridor resulted in a layer of brickwork being removed from the interior bore of the tunnel for its entire length, allowing the track centres to be slightly increased. (This modification was carried out to all Hawkesbury River tunnels at the same time).
N.d: Lighting has been added to the walls of the tunnel for use in an emergency or during maintenance work.
2015: Digital train radio equipment attached to tunnel portals.
Further information: Although outside of the listing boundary, the nearby archaeological remains of the navvy camp near the Mullet Creek portal has considerable potential to inform our understanding of the working lives of railway construction workers. Archaeological remains of railway workers camps on the scale likely to remain at the Woy Woy tunnel are rare in NSW.
Current use: Railway tunnel
Former use: Nil

History

Historical notes: The Main Northern line between Sydney and Newcastle was constructed in two distinct stages and in the earliest years, was worked as two separate railway systems.

The line between Sydney (actually the junction at Strathfield) and the Hawkesbury River was opened on 5 April 1887, with the terminus being on the southern bank of the Hawkesbury River. The line between Newcastle and the northern bank of the Hawkesbury River (near present day Wondabyne) was opened in January 1888. The line was completed through between Sydney and Newcastle with the opening of the massive bridge over the Hawkesbury River in 1889.

Woy Woy Railway Station is located on the Main Northern line, approximately mid-way between Gosford and the Hawkesbury River. Woy Woy Railway Tunnel was built approximately 3.2km (two miles) south of Woy Woy Railway Station.

Woy Woy Railway Tunnel was, for many years, the longest tunnel in Australia. The tunnel was (and is) an essential part of the Main Northern line linking Newcastle with the Hawkesbury River. The Gosford / Woy Woy area is located near a waterway known as ‘Brisbane Water’, whereas the new rail bridge at Hawkesbury River is approached from the north side by a waterway known as ‘Mullet Creek’. A sandstone ridge, more than 120 metres (360 feet) above the planned level of the railway formation between the Brisbane Water and Mullet creek, formed a large natural barrier to railway construction. A lengthy tunnel through the ridge was required to allow construction of the railway to continue towards the Hawkesbury River.

Contractor George Blunt commenced work on the tunnel in March 1884. The tunnel was built to accommodate future duplication, although this section was not duplicated until 1906. During construction, a tramway was built between Brisbane Water (at Woy Woy) and the site of the tunnel (2.5 miles, 4km) to convey materials which had been landed at Woy Woy by boat.

The tunnel proved to be a massive undertaking requiring 123, 354 cubic yards of excavation,10, 000, 000 bricks, and 10, 000 casks of cement. More than 800 men worked on the construction of the tunnel. During the building of the tunnel a railway camp school for the children of workers was established, opening in August 1884, and closing in March 1888 upon completion of all works.

The tunnel was opened at a ceremony on 17 July 1886, some 18 months before the opening of the line to Mullet Creek. The tunnel was constructed to accommodate duplication of the line, which did not occur until
1906.

When opened, the single line ran south through the new tunnel to a temporary railhead at Mullet Creek. From here passengers boarded a stern-wheel paddle steamer to take them across the Hawkesbury River to the southern railhead, however this arrangement ceased with the construction of the Hawkesbury River bridge.

The tunnel is 1.79km (5871 feet) long, and contains the site of the first continuous welding of rail (CWR) in NSW. Rails were welded into 1/4 mile lengths and then after laying were welded into continuous lengths. An unusual aspect of the tunnel is that the Newcastle-end portal of the bore is more southerly than the south-end portal.

(Perumal, Murphy, Alessi, 2015) Works such as the addition of lighting to the walls of the tunnel appear to have been carried out with general maintenance. The first major alterations appear to have occurred in the 1960s. The electrification of the system required the provision of overhead catenary and contact wire with associated hardware to be installed. Various track upgrading was also carried out within the tunnel at this time. In the late 1980s a new road bed, drainage and concrete sleepers and heavy ballast were installed. The planned use of certain designs of double-deck electric stock used along the line resulted in a layer of brickwork being removed from the interior bore of the tunnel over its entire length. This allowed the track centres to be increased and was undertaken to all tunnels along the line. Some works including tree clearing and felling at both ends of the tunnel was undertaken in 2009.

(Woy Woy Demolition Tunnel and Chamber, Gosford Heritage Inventory #1620472)
Demolition Tunnel: During WWII with the threat of Japanese invasion, a national defense plan was set into action. Part of this plan was to disable the railway system so the Japanese could not use it if they invaded along the coast. The Americans were in charge of coastal defenses in 1942 and trialed demolishing railway tunnels with explosives at an old tunnel near Otford on the South Coast. It was proposed to repeat this plan at several other tunnels along the coast including Woy Woy tunnel.

Small tunnels about 6 foot high and 30 feet long were dug above the main entrances to the tunnels. Explosives were lowered down an air shaft and detonated, collapsing the main tunnel roof and rendering it useless. The tunnels could be repaired later by this method (though the tunnel at Otford collapsed in the middle making it hard to repair). The demolition tunnels were dug by Railway workers and the Army was billed for this work in 1943.

2400 pounds of A.N 60 Gelignite was stored in a magazine nearby to be used for the demolition of Woy Woy tunnel in 1942, but as the war in the Pacific turned the plan was abandoned and the tunnels were fitted with wooden doors and padlocked.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Creating railway landscapes-
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 Making railway journeys-
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]
Woy Woy Railway Tunnel has historic significance as at the time of its construction it was the longest tunnel in Australia and was recognised as one of two major engineering feats on the Short North Line, the other being the Hawkesbury River Rail Bridge. The tunnel has associations with the linking of Sydney and Newcastle by rail and remains an essential component of this stretch of line.

The 1942 demolition tunnel marks one of the impacts of the second world war on railway infrastructure and indicates the severity of the situation and the extent of the planning for future events by the government and is therefore significant at a local level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Along with other tunnels on the Short North line it adds to the aesthetic significance of the line as a whole with its man made engineering elements contrasting with the natural surrounds of the Hawkesbury River region. The tunnels add to the experience of travelling on the Sydney to Newcastle line.

The 1942 demolition tunnel retains the character and integrity of the engineered entry and has local aesthetic and technical significance.

The tunnel has technical significance. It demonstrates the skills and technology available at the time of construction and it forms part of a set of tunnels and bridges on the Short North line that demonstrate a high degree of engineering achievement in building a railway line in difficult terrain. At the time of its construction it was the longest railway tunnel in Australia and remains one of the longest in NSW.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The tunnel itself has minimal archaeological research potential. However, the navvy camp near the Mullet Creek portal has considerable potential to inform our understanding of the working lives of railway construction workers (Allen, 1996). Archaeological remains of railway workers camps on the scale likely to remain at the Woy Woy tunnel are rare in NSW.

The 1942 demolition tunnel has local archaeological significance.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The tunnel is not rare. There are numerous other examples of this construction in the State and on the Short North line, including Tickhole Tunnel and the tunnels in the vicinity of the Hawkesbury River Rail Bridge. It is however, one of the longest tunnels outside the Sydney underground network, which makes it distinctive.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The tunnel is a good example of its type and is representative of double track railway tunnels within the NSW rail network. It is one of the oldest tunnels still in use in NSW and one of the longest outside the Sydney underground rail network.
Integrity/Intactness: The tunnel is intact and has a high degree of integrity, despite modifications which have not impacted its significance.
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 June 28 2013: 1. Ground works or excavation to improve drainage within the tunnel, providing no visual impacts on tunnel portals and no adverse impacts on the heritage significance of the place. 2. Repair and/or upgrade of the existing overhead aqueduct, providing no material impacts on tunnel portals and no adverse impacts on the heritage significance of the place. 3. All work to heritage fabric shall be undertaken by qualified tradesmen with practical experience in the conservation of similar items. Other Recommended Management Principles: 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.

Listings

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 NSW Department of Commerce  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2015Woy Woy Demolition Tunnel - Gosford Heritage Inventory #1620472
Writtengosford.nsw.gov.au/library/local_history/Suburbs/documents/history-of-woy-woy The History of Woy Woy
WrittenJohn Forsyth. Line Histories
WrittenPerumal Murphy Alessi Heritage Consultants2015Statement of Heritage Impact Proposed Digital Train Radio System, Woy Woy Tunnel
WrittenRay Love2009Historical Research for RailCorp s170 Update
WrittenSingleton C.C. The Short North. ARHS Bulletin. Various issues
WrittenState Rail Authority of New South Wales.1995How and Why of Station Names. Fourth Edition

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: 4800112


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