Broadmeadow Railway Locomotive Depot | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Broadmeadow Railway Locomotive Depot

Item details

Name of item: Broadmeadow Railway Locomotive Depot
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Locomotive Roundhouse
Primary address: Cameron Street, New Lambton/Broadmeadow, NSW 2292
Parish: Newcastle
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Newcastle


North: 10m north of the roundhouse, office building and turntable (following line of rail);South: 5m south of roundhouse and turntable (following line of rail and excluding the maintenance centre);East: 20m from the roundhouse;West: 10m from the turntable.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Cameron StreetNew Lambton/BroadmeadowNewcastleNewcastleNorthumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot has state heritage significance. Broadmeadow Depot was the main servicing hub for steam locomotives in the northern part of NSW during this time, having replaced Hamilton Depot in this function, and was the last depot in NSW to run regular steam train services.

The extensive site contains a range of buildings and works that demonstrate the operation of the site and the changing technology from steam to diesel over a period of 80 years. In particular the roundhouses demonstrate the shift after 1890 from the English model of using through-houses for locomotive maintenance, to the American practice of using roundhouses. Although a number of elements of the depot have been removed, the site is still able to demonstrate its significance through the grouping of the turntables, 1948 roundhouse, in and out roads and District Engineer's office. The site physically demonstrates a former age of locomotive servicing that no longer occurs.

The Broadmeadow number 2 roundhouse is relatively rare in NSW. Although a number of roundhouses were built throughout the state, only seven roundhouses (or part roundhouses) are extant, and the Broadmeadow number 2 roundhouse and turntable are one of the largest remaining in NSW. The rarity value of the Broadmeadow complex is increased by the fact there were two roundhouses on the same site and that both turntables survive. It is still able to demonstrate this intensive use despite the loss of the superstructure of the 1924 roundhouse and the encroachment of the Endeavour Centre on the radial roads of the 1948 roundhouse. It is the only railway complex in NSW to retain two side by side turntables and both are in working order.
Date significance updated: 12 Jun 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: New South Wales Government Railways
Builder/Maker: Way and Works Branch - New South Wales Government Railways
Construction years: 1924-1948
Physical description: BUILDINGS
Roundhouse No 2 (1948) and 105' Turntable # 2, (1948-49)
Former District Engineer's Office (1930s)
79' Turntable # 1 (1924)
Diesel Refuelling Facility (1948)
Additional Modern Sheds (1990s)

The Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot is a large site on the western (Down) side of the Short North line, south of Broadmeadow Station. The main, western part of the depot contains the former locomotive servicing facilities including two turntables and associated roundhouses (roundhouse #1 has been removed), washing facilities, the former District Engineer's office.

‘Inward’ and ‘Departure’ roads are arranged to allow for the arrival and departure of locomotives from the complex from south to north past former roundhouse no 1# (Turntable #1 is still extant), past roundhouse #2 and then exiting the site to rejoin the main line. The configuration of the roads have changed over time as the yard layout has evolved. The large 1980s Endeavour servicing centre sits between the roundhouses and the main rail lines and the carparking area for the centre has encroached on the radial roads of roundhouse #2 as well as some of the departure roads.

ROUNDHOUSE No 2 (1948) and 105' TURNTABLE # 2, (1948-49)
External: The remaining roundhouse and turntable arrangement at Broadmeadow (No.2 roundhouse) consists of 42 locomotive storage roads laid out in a fan-shape arrangement, radiating from a central turntable, which is a typical track arrangement for roundhouses. The roundhouse building is semi-circular in plan, providing cover over 21 radiating roads with the remaining roads plus the access/egress roads being uncovered. Principal dimensions: Length of side wall (i.e. from front doorway to rear wall of roundhouse): 90 feet. Approx. outside diameter of semi-circle scribed by roundhouse: 400 feet

The roundhouse has a symmetrically peaked roof, centrally placed, with smoke chutes above each shed road on the outer roof section and a skylight at the ridge. The end walls are constructed in brick in English bond. The roof is supported on reinforced concrete columns with steel and metal roof framing. The outer walls of the building and the end walls have large glass windows. There are some extant metal doors between columns facing the turntable.

Internal: Flooring is generally concrete, with inspection pits and access steps provided to allow inspection beneath locomotives. The access pits were modified with the introduction of diesel engines. There are also raised work platforms for access to upper levels of the locomotives for maintenance and repairs. Within this building, there were offices and stores at the northern end of the structure and there is also a compressor shed at the southern end with some remnant equipment inside.

Other: Other equipment associated with the locomotive depot includes a 105 foot diameter electrically-powered turntable and a number of small workshop and administrative buildings. The turntable pre-dates the roundhouse but the equipment was upgraded when the shed was built. A conservation project for the roundhouse and turntable commenced in mid 2009.

External: Located in the centre of the western portion of the site is the Former District Engineers office, also referred to as the District Manager's building and the Divisional Locomotive Engineers office. This building is an interesting single storey drop-concrete-slab building with corrugated metal hipped roof which extends to form a timber-framed deep veranda on three sides with concrete floors. The rear of the building has a double hipped roof with a north-south valley gutter. On one verandah is a lower window, apparently used for the collection of wages by staff.

This form of construction is based around the use of prefabricated concrete slabs dropped between prefabricated slotted concrete studs to form external walls, with gaps provided between studs for window and door openings. This form of construction was commonly used in railway sites during the early 20th century.

Along the northern elevation is a group of tall cypress trees, possibly originally planted as a hedge.

Internal: The interior of this building is very simple with the external walls lined between the concrete studs and internal lightweight walls clad in plasterboard. All ceilings are fibre-cement with battens and plaster ceiling roses. Floors are timber, some covered with linoleum. All windows are timber-framed double-hung sash windows with timber architraves and sills. This building is in very poor condition, with much evidence of termite infestation, all windows boarded up (many broken).

TURNTABLE # 1 (1924)
Dating from 1924, turntable # 1 is located almost directly west of turntable # 2. It is an electric turntable, still functioning. The turntable was raised when the roundhouse was demolished in the 1980s.

Located east of and adjacent to Turntable # 2, is a metal framed structure, clad in corrugated iron, comprising two bays for refuelling.

Located between the two turn turntables are a cluster of modern structures, all constructed in metal with gabled metal roofs. These buildings are generally used as storage sheds. One structure is long and thing in plan, open at both ends with high level mezzanines and a central pit for cleaning of rolling stock. Other demountable buildings are also located within the vicinity of the Endeavour Centre. These structures have little/nil heritage significance.

South west of Turntable # 2 is a row of Canary Island date palms, following the line of the tracks.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Roundhouse No 2 (1948) and 105' Turntable # 2, (1948-49) - Good condition
Former District Engineer's Office (1930s) - Poor - moderate condition
79' Turntable # 1 (1924) - Good condition
Additional Modern Sheds (1990s) - Good condition
Refuelling Shed (1948) - Moderate condition
Landscape Features - Moderate condition

There are likely to be numerous pits, services and sections of former roads across the site. A number of features have been removed from the site including the large coal stage, locomotive watering facilities including tanks and water spouts, the Arnott's siding and roundhouse #1, although some archaeological evidence of these may remain. The Chargemen's office, boilerhouse for the steam cleaning station and the machine shop were in the area now occupied by the Endeavour Workshop and little evidence of these is likely to survive.
Date condition updated:24 Sep 08
Modifications and dates: Late-1940s: No.2 roundhouse built with 21 of the 42 roads being covered, accompanied by a 105-feet diameter turntable, new buildings, machine workshops, stores, improved lighting at the depot and surrounding work areas and crew amenities. A number of bays within the newer roundhouse (No.2) were extended in order to make the roads longer, thereby accommodating the much longer 60 class steam locomotives while undergoing repairs within the shed.
1954: improvements to locomotive depot to accommodate the new 60 class Beyer-Garratt steam locomotives,
1957: improvements to coaling facilities for the 60 class locomotives,
Late 1960s- early 1970s: much of the steam servicing facilities were demolished and removed, replaced by diesel locomotive servicing equipment, a number of bays of the No.2 roundhouse were modified, special doors, vents and dust seals were added to specific bays to permit repair of sensitive equipment, a Load Box was built, modern sanding towers were established, along with modern diesel fuelling equipment and diesel fuel storage, fitting of inspection gangways on each road and improved inspection pits, lighting and drainage.
1990: The original roundhouse (No.1) was demolished.
1994: Broadmeadow locomotive depot was closed on 24 December.
1999: Paymaster’s Office and Former Guards Resthouse- both buildings were remodelled between April - May 1999 for use as offices, amenities and storage purposes.
2009: Restoration works to roundhouses and turntables
2010: The Former Driver's Barracks (1920s) was demolished.
2013: HAZMAT removal DLE's office: removal of asbestos sheeting, PCB’s, asbestos & lead paint dust.
Further information: There is a separate listing for the Rail Paymaster's office and guard resthouse located at the Bala Road Depot, south of the main lines.
Current use: Office of Rail Heritage Rolling Stock Collection Store.
Former use: Principal locomotive servicing and maintenance depot for steam locomotives (later diesel-electric locomotives) in use in the northern region of NSW


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

In 1857, a line was opened between Newcastle and East Maitland, linking the two towns, Newcastle and Maitland. The Great Northern Railway (as it was then known) was extended further up the Hunter Valley over the next 20 years.

In the 1870s, a locomotive depot was established at Honeysuckle Point (near present-day Civic Station), providing for the locomotive servicing and repair capabilities for the locomotives working in the northern region of the system. By the 1890s, the meagre facilities at Honeysuckle Point were proving to be inadequate and a new depot was established at Hamilton, within the triangular shaped section of land formed by the lines between Broadmeadow, Hamilton and Waratah.

On 15 January 1888, the 82km section (52 mile) between Woodville Junction and Gosford was opened for traffic, an essential link in the planned railway between Sydney and Newcastle. Woodville Junction is the rail junction between the line to Newcastle station and the Main Northern line to Maitland. The Woodville Junction-Gosford section was originally constructed as ‘single line’ but within two years, duplication had been completed as far south as Teralba.

During the early 1920s, with increased size of motive power and an increase in the number of locomotives, an even larger depot was required, with Hamilton depot proving to be too small. A new, much larger depot was planned for Broadmeadow, on the Down side of the main line, between Adamstown and Broadmeadow stations.

Broadmeadow locomotive depot was opened in 1924 and soon became the principal locomotive repair and servicing depot in the northern part of the state.

When opened in 1924 and within the next couple of years, Broadmeadow locomotive depot comprised one roundhouse (No.1), fitted with a 75-feet diameter turntable, a large elevated timber coal stage, large elevated water tanks, a crew barracks for locomotive crews, a barracks for Traffic Branch employees ( located on the eastern side of Broadmeadow marshalling yard) and a number of other depot structures. Being such a large and important locomotive centre, a large boiler washout plant, extensive repair workshops, a machine shop, sign-on rooms, meal rooms, wash rooms, and locker rooms were part of the arrangement.

The convention regarding train crew barracks that applied in the twentieth century was that Engine drivers and firemen, and the traffic officers (i.e. Guards) were accommodated in separate barracks. The Drivers and Firemen were accommodated in a concrete drop slab building that was constructed in 1924 . The traffic officers were housed in the Guards barracks (opposite side of tracks). It is possible that the brick building is not the same as built in 1924. However its style and detailing could be as early as the 1920s or as late as the 1940s. The exact date of construction has not been established (Ellsmore, 2000).

Steam locomotive servicing areas, commonly referred to as locomotive depots, date from the earliest days of the NSW railways (the 1855 period). During the 1940s and 1950s, it is estimated that in excess of 150 sites similar to, but generally smaller than Broadmeadow) were in existence in the state. These servicing sites included more than 145 locomotive sheds and roundhouses.

With the introduction of dieselisation in the 1960s the Broadmeadow Depot was downsized in accordance with reduced demand for its facilities and today it is little more than a remnant servicing depot for area.

In 2009 there are only seven roundhouses or part roundhouses remaining in the state.

Throughout 2009 and 2010, the Broadmeadow Depot underwentmajor repairs to restore both the 60 year old roundhouse and the adjacent No.2 turntable. The repairs to the roundhouse included replacement of damaged roof sections, doors, windows, eaves and fascias as well as electrical services. Work on the 105 foot turntable included intricate structural work as well as the electrical, mechanical and hydraulic systems to return it to full operation.

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 Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods Railway workshops-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Locomotive design and technological development-
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 Maintaining the railway network-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Servicing and accommodating railway employees-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Railway work culture-
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. Apprenticeships and cadetships-
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]
The Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot has state heritage significance under this criterion. Along with nearby Cardiff Locomotive Workshops, Broadmeadow Depot demonstrates the increasing demand on the NSW rail system and its capacity for building and servicing rolling stock in the early to mid-twentieth century. Broadmeadow Depot was the main servicing hub for steam locomotives in the northern part of NSW during this time, having replaced Hamilton Depot in this function. It was the last depot in NSW to run regular steam train services.

The extensive site contains a range of buildings and works that demonstrate the operation of the site and the changing technology from steam to diesel over a period of 80 years. In particular the roundhouses demonstrate the shift from the English model of using through houses for locomotive maintenance, to the American practice of using roundhouses. Although a number of elements of the depot have been removed the site is still able to demonstrate its significance under this criterion through the grouping of the turntables, 1948 roundhouse, cleaning depot, in and out roads, offices and accommodation. The site physically demonstrates a former age of locomotive servicing that no longer occurs. The 1980s Endeavour Centre, where trains are currently cleaned and serviced continues the historic use of the site for this purpose although its construction has impinged on the radial roads of the #2 roundhouse, impacting on its ability to operate as it was intended.

The railways were, for many years, the largest employer in NSW, with staff in all corners of the state working 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The Broadmeadow depot had a significant impact on the local economy, particularly in its heyday.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot has state significance under this criterion. This significance is centred on the 1948 roundhouse and turntable. The architectural features and fabric remain largely intact and have a patina of age and use that provide a strong sense of place. The scale of the building creates a dramatic industrial space that reflects the scale of the servicing operation that took place on the site.

The former Chief Engineer's office is a good example of an early 20th century drop concrete slab building, typical of numerous buildings constructed using this technique across the rail network.
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 history. The site is likely to have a high degree of social value for former staff and their families.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot has local heritage significance under this criterion. The site has low/moderate archaeological research potential. Remains of now demolished buildings and works have the potential to add some knowledge about the operation of the site and to add to its interpretability.
SHR Criteria f)
The Broadmeadow # 2 roundhouse is relatively rare in NSW. Steam locomotives were the principal form of railway motive power in New South Wales for approximately 110 years (1855-1965). As such, steam locomotive servicing facilities incorporating engine sheds or roundhouses, were established at approximately 145 sites in the state. It is estimated that approximately 120 engine sheds were built in the state and in addition, that 25 roundhouse were also built, all these buildings being part of locomotive servicing arrangements. Only seven roundhouses (or part roundhouses) are extant. The Broadmeadow # 2 roundhouse and turntable are one of the largest remaining. The oldest remaining is at Valley Heights.

The rarity value of the Broadmeadow complex is increased by the fact there were two roundhouses on the same site and that both turntables survive. It is still able to demonstrate this intensive former use despite the loss of the superstructure of the 1924 roundhouse and the encroachment of the Endeavour Centre on the radial roads of the 1948 roundhouse. It is the only railway complex in NSW to retain two side by side turntables and both are in working order. The rarity value of the group as a whole is further enhanced by the original Resident Engineer's office.
SHR Criteria g)
The Broadmeadow roundhouse represents a class of industrial building, which were once common in the state but there are relatively few remaining examples of this type of structure. The roundhouse conforms to the standard roundhouse design also seen at Casino, Cowra, Muswellbrook and Temora. The Broadmeadow roundhouse #2 remains intact and following conservation works will be operational and in good condition. It is a good example of its type.
Integrity/Intactness: The Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot retains a moderate degree of integrity. Although the aesthetic and technical significance of the site as a whole is diminished by the loss of the original 1924 roundhouse, the majority of the principal elements of the site are extant.
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 registerSRA s.170 Register    
Heritage studyLocomotive Depot and Depot Offices    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA14State Rail Authority  No
Heritage and Conservation Register State Rail Authority of NSW1993179Paul Davies for SRA  No
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 NSW Department of Commerce  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenC. C. Singleton The Short North. The Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin. Various issues.
WrittenDavid Sheedy Pty Ltd1999Inspection of sites with potential heritage significance.
WrittenGretta Logue2012DLE HAZMAT Removal - Standard Exemption Application
WrittenJohn Forsyth Line Histories
WrittenNSW Department of Railways Records. Expenditure Cards by location. Up to 1965
Management PlanNSW Department of Railways. Way and Works Branch.1950Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot. Proposed Staff Accommodation Plan
WrittenRay Love2009Historical Research for RailCorp s170 Update
WrittenRay Love2002Locomotive Roundhouse at Broadmeadow Heritage Assessment
WrittenState Rail Authority of New South Wales1995How 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: 4801014

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