Lavender Bay Railway Group | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Lavender Bay Railway Group

Item details

Name of item: Lavender Bay Railway Group
Other name/s: Lavender Bay Sidings
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Primary address: Dumbarton Street, Lavender Bay, NSW 2060
Local govt. area: North Sydney


The listing boundary is within the rail corridor from the Down side of the underbridge at Woolcott Street, Waverton to the far end of the yard at the property boundary with Luna Park. The rail line runs along the western side of Dumbarton Street above Berrys Bay entering the tunnel at Mil Mil street and exiting at King George Street from where it follows the base of the cliff along the shoreline of Lavender Bay to its end point at Luna Park.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Dumbarton StreetLavender BayNorth Sydney  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Lavender Bay Railway Group is of local significance as the last link in the North Shore railway built in the 1890s. The completion of this part of the line joined the harbour to Hornsby and formed an integral part of the development of North Sydney. The tunnel, viaduct and underbridges form a significant collection of railway infrastructure and represent a relatively intact group from the 1890s that displays a range of technical approaches to railway construction. The collection remains as a remnant of an important commuter transport hub for trains, trams and ferries providing a link from the Sydney CBD to the North Shore prior to the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. The site continues to be an important railway siding for storage of commuter trains and remains a significant landmark along the Sydney Harbour foreshore.
Date significance updated: 24 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: Railway Construction Branch NSW Department of Public Works
Builder/Maker: Railway Construction Branch NSW Department of Public Works
Construction years: 1891-
Physical description: EXTANT ITEMS
- Woolcott Street Underbridge, (1893, 1993)
- Commodore Crescent Underbridge, (1913)
- John St Rail Underbridge, (c1991)
Railway viaduct, (1893)
Railway tunnel
Railway marshalling yards, (1924, c1930s)
Rubble seawall
Brick retaining wall (Berrys Bay)
Signal footing (McMahons Point)

From the western end of the line where it diverges from the main North Shore line at Woolcott Street, the single line follows the alignment of the 1893 Milsons Point extension line, crossing three underbridges and one overbridge, passing through one brick faced tunnel and over a large brick viaduct before entering the marshalling yards and sidings at Lavender Bay. The single line divides into six within the sidings.

Woolcott Street Underbridge (1893, 1993)
A plate-girder bridge with riveted steel continuous trough, spanning 20 metres with rails attached to sleepers which lie on the flat crests of the trough surface. The underbridge abutments are finely detailed yellow brick in English bond with a dentilled projecting course near the track level. Each abutment has two sandstone capped pedestals.

In 1993, the double track wrought-iron bridge was replaced by a new single track girder bridge, which had been recovered from Dombarton on the Unanderra-Moss Vale line. This bridge had been rendered surplus by regrading and duplication of that line. The abutments of the bridge date from the original rail construction of 1893.

Commodore Crescent Underbridge (1913)
A simple short bridge which has an RSJ supporting each rail. The two sets of RSJs are joined by transverse bracing and diagonal strapping. The brick abutments are in English bond with sandstone capping.

John Street Underbridge (c1991)
John Street underbridge is a modern prestressed concrete bridge span between brick abutments. The brick abutments include sandstone coping and capping stones. The concrete bridge (c1991) replaced an earlier steel plate girder underbridge (similar to the Woolcott bridge) with evidence of the supports and attachments for this structure still visible on the abutments.

The viaduct is in two sections and composed of a number of segmented arches in brick masonry. The viaduct has string courses and a brick masonry railing which is capped by sandstone. The arches vary in length and are laid in English bond pattern. The eastern end has engaged buttresses and two footways pass beneath it. In the west section, two of the arched sections have been infilled with brick walls on the north side and wooden doors on the south to form storerooms.

The line passes through a tunnel, made wide enough to allow two steam engines to pass. The tunnel is approximately 300m long and located 200m west of the viaduct. Two cuttings were drilled and blasted from either end and lead to triple-arched brick portals. The portals have projecting string courses and a sandstone capped top.

The siding and marshalling yards contain the remains of the relocated 1924 Milsons Point Station. The station platforms exist as curved elongated mounds of fill, marked by granite chips from the demolished platforms. Concrete footings of the platform roof structure remain and give an indication of the original height of the platforms.

A modest brick building, c1930s at the western end of the yard acts as a waiting room and office for drivers. It has a gabled, corrugated steel roof with timber barge boards, and broken pitch on the eastern side acting as an awning. Some graffiti is evident on painted brickwork.

The harbour foreshore is defined by a rubble sea wall made up of varying size stone blocks. A public park lies between the harbour edge and the rail corridor.

Approximately 6m high brick retaining wall laid in English bond pattern on the harbour side of the Lavender Bay Railway line south of John Street.

A tapered cast concrete plinth approximately 800mm high and 300mm diameter with four steel pins protruding from the top which once held a steel signal post.

The Lavender Bay Group includes a number of landscape features along its length including the tunnel between Mil Mil Street and King George Street, railway cuttings at the Up end of the tunnel, the large viaduct along the foreshore of Lavender Bay which is a landmark feature and the grass lawn and park areas on the harbour side of the viaduct facing Quibaree Park. These represent a combination of railway features from the construction date, and more recent landscaping features undertaken by local authorities for harbour beautification and amenity.

The marshalling yards have a high potential to contain archaeological remains associated with the former Milsons Point railway station which was on the site from 1924 to 1932.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The Lavender Bay line and marshalling yards are in good condition. Some graffiti was noted (2009) on brickwork along the line, particularly on piers of Dumbarton Street Overbridge, and at tunnel portal entrances.
Date condition updated:22 Jul 09
Modifications and dates: 1915: Lavender Bay Station constructed
1924: Lavender Bay Station closed and re-opened
1932: Lavender Bay Station closed and dismantled with much of infrastructure removed
c1980s: Luna Park extended over southern section of line
1990s: Station and associated infrastructure continued to be removed, including (confirmed demolished 2009): Manual quadrant signal - Nth side 40m east of tunnel; Mile post; Signal box
Starting signal, 40m east of tunnel+B454; Steps leading from marshalling yard to tram terminus; Up landmark; Working platform; Footbridge; Original Milsons Point Station Line, NE of Luna Park
2010: New retaining wall constructed along length of platform remains, new walkways constructed
Current use: Lavender Bay rail sidings
Former use: Milsons Point suburban line


Historical notes: The Milsons Point extension railway was begun in 1890 with a contract for the works awarded to a Mr O McMaster in April for a double line of railway from Milsons Point to St Leonards. The Milsons Point extension would complete the North Shore link from the harbour to Hornsby. The line required cutting and blasting of the rocks and cliffs along the route, with two tunnels (only one within this item listing boundary), ten bridges (underbridges and overbridges) and a large brick viaduct.

The line was built using a combination of government labour and men from the Unemployed Labour Bureau over a three-year period, with the new Milsons Point station opening in May 1893. The Milsons Point Station, near where the northern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge now stands, was a transport hub with trains, ferries and trams all converging to convey Sydney's commuters.

Milsons Point Station remained until 1924, when planning for the construction of the new Sydney Harbour Bridge meant the station needed to be relocated. The new Milsons Point Station was opened on 28 July 1924 further around in Lavender Bay on the water below Glen Street. This station was actually on the site of an earlier Lavender Bay Station (1915) which was remodelled as the terminus in 1924. A new ferry terminal was also built here. The former site was redeveloped as the Dorman Long & Co workshops for the bridge's construction, and after 1932 it was redeveloped once again as Luna Park.

At the new Milsons Point station, long escalators took commuters from the station to Glen Street on the escarpment above to connect to the trams that had also been relocated. These escalators were Australia's first and were themselves relocated to Wynyard Station in 1932 where they remain in use.

With the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932, including the new North Sydney and Milsons Point stations, the old Lavender Bay Station was closed as a commuter station. The station and yard have since been used as a siding for daytime storage of commuter trains between peak-hour services. Most of the station buildings and platforms have been removed, although evidence of the platforms can been seen. A brick waiting room now used for the drivers at the siding remains.

Since 1994 a number of structures have been removed from the Lavender Bay line including a signal box, mile posts, platforms, a footbridge at Lavender Bay and stairs leading up from the siding to the former Glen Street tram terminal.

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-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Impacts of Railways on Urban Form-
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 or architecture-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Lavender Bay Railway Group is historically significant as part of the Milsons Point extension line to complete the North Shore railway line which joined the harbour to the main north line at Hornsby. The terminal at Lavender Bay was a major transport hub, with ferries meeting the trains and a tram terminal in Glen Street above reached by Australia's first escalators. The line represented a major piece of infrastructure at a time when few suburban railway projects were being undertaken. The rail line was integral to the development of the North Shore.

The Lavender Bay Group is associated with the development of the transport network on the North Shore and with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Lavender Bay sidings and marshalling yard are located on the site of the former Milsons Point Station, which was moved to this location when the original was demolished to make way for the Harbour Bridge and the workshops of Dorman Long & Co.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Lavender Bay Railway group as made up by the collection of underbridges, overbridges, tunnels and viaduct are a major and distinctive landmark feature on the lower North Shore. The large brick viaduct in the Lavender Bay Railway Group has aesthetic significance as a prominent landmark and piece of urban infrastructure on the harbour foreshore at the head of Lavender Bay. The underbridges, tunnels and viaducts along the line have technical significance as a group of original railway infrastructure features from the late 1890s which represents an important technical and major engineering achievement. The underbridges and viaduct are otherwise standard design types of the NSW railways for the construction period.
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.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Lavender Bay Railway Group has some research potential via the archaeological potential of the marshalling yard, which is on the site of the Milsons Point railway station (demolished in 1932) and may contain relics associated with an early railway station development on the lower North Shore.
SHR Criteria f)
The Lavender Bay Railway Group is an unusual, relatively intact relic of early railway construction on the North Shore, combining a series of railway infrastructure pieces including tunnels, overbridges, underbridges and a viaduct to carry the railway down from the ridge line at Waverton to the harbour at Milsons Point.
SHR Criteria g)
The Lavender Bay Railway Group represents the 1890s railway development and infrastructure used in the Sydney suburban system. The individual items along the line represent the different approaches undertaken by the railways to bridge construction, tunnelling and viaduct construction in Sydney in the later nineteenth century.
Integrity/Intactness: The Lavender Bay Railway Group has a medium level of integrity and intactness, with a number of smaller items having been removed since the mid 1990s.
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    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA22State Rail Authority  No
Heritage and Conservation Register State Rail Authority of NSW1993231Paul Davies for SRA  No
Luna Park/Lavender Bay Heritage Study1990105-126Godden Mackay Pty Ltd  No
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 Godden Mackay Logan  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGodden Mackay1990Luna Park/Lavender Bay Heritage Study
WrittenNSW Department of Public Works Annual Report 1924/1925; 1931/32

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: 4801022

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