Homebush (Parramatta Road) Railway Underbridge | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Homebush (Parramatta Road) Railway Underbridge

Item details

Name of item: Homebush (Parramatta Road) Railway Underbridge
Other name/s: Arnott's Biscuits Bridge, Strathfield Underbridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Primary address: Parramatta Road, Homebush, NSW 2140
Local govt. area: Strathfield


North: a line across the rail corridor 5 metres beyond the abutments.South: a line across the rail corridor 5 metres beyond the abutments.East: edge of the underbridge.West: edge of the underbridge.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Parramatta RoadHomebushStrathfield  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Parramatta Road Railway Underbridge at Homebush has significance as a representative example of a common type of steel web girder bridges constructed by NSW Railways up until the 1960s. It is a fine example of its type and has landmark qualities because of its high visibility from Parramatta Road, its imposing size and the large Arnott's advertisement at each end which is associated in turn with Arnott's biscuit factory which was once located nearby.
Date significance updated: 07 Sep 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.


Designer/Maker: NSW Government Railways
Builder/Maker: NSW Government Railways
Construction years: 1886-1927
Physical description: PARRAMATTA ROAD UNDERBRIDGE (1914)
The underbridge at Parramatta Road is a simple single span web girder through bridge which carries four rail tracks of the Main North Line. It is made up of three individual spans placed side by side. Each span comprises two steel web girders at each edge which are connected by a series of internal lateral web girders with diagonal steel bracing. The easternmost span is not used. The structure is a through bridge, with the main girders sitting up above the level of the railway tracks. A distinctive feature of the bridge is the large painted Arnott's advertisement at the exposed western and eastern ends. The steel girders bear upon red face brick abutments at each side of Parramatta Road and which carry three equally spaced horizontal projecting bands of brickwork four courses high, the top course being a splayed brick.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The web girder bridge over Parramatta Road is in good condition except both the brick abutments and the girders at the rail level have extensive graffiti.
Date condition updated:10 Jan 06
Modifications and dates: 1928: Local and Suburban lines electrified to Homebush and Strathfield triangle and Main Northern line electrified to Hornsby.
Current use: Railway Underbridge
Former use: Nil


Historical notes: The Parramatta Road underbridge is located to the north of theStrathfield (rail) Triangle where the main northern railway crosses Parramatta Road.

The site was previously a level crossing dating from 1886 with the opening of the Strathfield to Hornsby section of the Northern line on 17 September 1886. The line between Strathfield and Hornsby was duplicated in March 1892. The capacity of the Main North Line between Strathfield and Parramatta River was gradually improved during the early decades of the twentieth century, partially in response to the development of new industries and urban subdivisions along the line. Relief lines being added at a later date to accommodate increased traffic.

The SMH, 1/6/1906, reports that a deputation of local municipalities asked the Railway Commissioner to abolish the level crossing. In 1914, a level crossing at the intersection of Parramatta Road and the Main North Line was removed by grading the road beneath the tracks, and constructing three steel double-track webplate-girder bridges, with brick abutments and wingwalls (AMBS, 2012). The Up relief line was later taken out of service and there is an unused span extant at the eastern side of the bridge.

From the 1930s, these bridges became well known for carrying advertisements for the nearby Arnott’s
Biscuits factory, located to the north of the bridge (AMBS, 2012). In 1904, the first of many factories and industrial undertakings was established in the area. The bridge remains as a landmark with it's painted ‘Arnott’s Biscuits’ sign. The former Arnott’s factory and associated rail sidings are located just north-west of the underbridge: Many members of the Arnott’s family lived in Strathfield including its founder William Arnott and his sons and grandsons, who managed the business after his death in 1901. The first Sydney factory at Forest Lodge was opened in 1894. In 1905, the Arnott family wanting to expand, decided that a larger factory was required. Requiring access to the railway for transportation, the Arnott’s purchased a six and half acre site at Homebush in 1906. The Homebush factory which opened in 1908 was eventually the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and exported biscuits from Homebush to the rest of the world. (Strathfield District Historical Society, 2009).

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-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The bridge is significant for its associations with the nearby former Arnott’s factory and the Arnott’s family who were prominent people in the Strathfield area.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The steel bridge over Parramatta Road is a good example of this particular web girder bridge built by NSW Railways. It is distinctive for having a long span, being in three separate spans side by side, and having particular landmark qualities because of the distinctive Arnott's sign on both the western and eastern sides.
SHR Criteria g)
The steel plate web girder bridge over Parramatta Road represents a common group of such structures erected by NSW Railways over a long period.
Integrity/Intactness: The steel girder bridge over Parramatta Road including the brick abutments is intact.
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 registerRailcorp S170 Register    
Heritage studyBridge w Arnotts sign    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 OCP Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenJohn Forsyth1983Historical Notes on Railway Lines
WrittenStrathfield District Historical Society2009Arnott's Bakehouse Quarter
WrittenTony Prescott2009Historical Research for RailCorp's S170 Update Project

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

rez rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4800290

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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.