Eveleigh Railway Workshops | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Eveleigh Railway Workshops

Item details

Name of item: Eveleigh Railway Workshops
Other name/s: Eveleigh Carriageworks, Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops, North Eveleigh, South Eveleigh.
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Workshop
Primary address: Wilson Street, Eveleigh, NSW 2015
Local govt. area: Sydney


North: Wilson St (excluding portion of north-west corner) and Leamington Avenue; East: west end of Redfern Station platforms; South: north and west boundaries of ATP, Railway Parade and the property boundary to the new development fronting Henderson Rd; West: Swanson Street, Burren Street and Ivery’s Lane. (Excludes ATP).
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Wilson StreetEveleighSydney  Primary Address
Iverys Lane, Leamington Lane, Henderson Road, Railway Parade, Swanson StreetEveleighSydney  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

(The following heritage significance assessment has been compiled from previous significance assessments, including: Eveleigh Carriageworks Draft Conservation Management Plan 2002, South Eveleigh Heritage Assessment 2015, and North Eveleigh Concept Plan Heritage Impact Statement 2014).

The Eveleigh Railway Workshops complex is of exceptional heritage significance to the state of NSW for its major contribution to the establishment, operation and growth of the NSW railways, which was essential to the growth and development of NSW from the late 19th century onwards. The Workshops complex is significant as a rare remaining example of a relatively intact, large-scale 19th century railway workshops that retains unity of character as well as continued links to railway operations for over 100 years to this day.

Historically the site is important for its links to an early phase of railway development in NSW, with onsite evidence remaining intact from as early as 1887. The remaining tangible evidence and intangible site values reflect the technological, social and cultural development of the NSW railways, as well as broader important historical events. Though many structures and items have been removed, the remaining site evidence reads as a living interpretation of the technological, administrative, social and cultural developments in over 100 years of railway operations in NSW, including the major transition from steam to diesel and electric powered train operation. The layout of the extant site elements is also indicative of the functional and administrative arrangements during the period of the site’s operation.

The Workshops complex is significant for its associations with important railway figures, namely John Whitton, Engineer-in-Chief for the NSW Railways between 1856 and 1899, who conceived the workshops, and George Cowdrey, Engineer for Existing Lines, who executed Whitton’s vision.

The site is of considerable aesthetic and technical significance for the high quality design and construction of the original buildings, which are substantially intact and display finely detailed polychrome brickwork and well articulated facades that embody the pride of the late Victorian era. The simple, strong functional forms of the buildings have landmark quality, not only as important townscape elements in the Redfern/Eveleigh area, but as part of the visual train journey of thousands of passing commuters. The combination of the southern locomotive sheds at the Australian Technology Park and the former Carriage and Wagon Workshops provide a distinctive landmark in the Sydney landscape and define views to and from the site.

The Workshops are of social value to generations of railway employees past and present as a workplace producing high quality craftsmanship utilising state-of-the-art technology, as well as being a heritage icon for current local communities. The Workshops were associated with cultural and social developments in working conditions now crucial to the Australian cultural identity, for example, the weekend. They had an important association with the labour movement. The place was seen initially as a positive instrument of state socialism and in later periods as the site of important labour actions and of restrictive work practices.

The Workshops represent significant research potential for their ability to inform through remaining physical, documentary and oral evidence the functions and operations of a large-scale 19th/20th century railway workshops.

Eveleigh Railway Workshops is significant for its rarity in NSW as a large and relatively intact historic railway workshop. It is representative of Victorian era railway workshops and is significant as one of the best surviving examples of railway workshop complexes from this era.

While many items have been removed in the process of modern site development, the site still holds an exceptional and rare collection of historically and technically significant heavy machinery, the majority of which is housed in the ATP buildings on the south side of the main railway line.

Note: Previous assessments have identified potential for the Eveleigh Railway Workshops to have significance at a National or International level. Further research is required to determine this.
Date significance updated: 16 Feb 16
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: George Cowdery (and other railway departments/engineers, for later phases of development)
Builder/Maker: George Fishburn (and other railway departments/engineers, for later phases of development)
Construction years: 1882-1897
Physical description: CONTEXT
The Eveleigh Railway Workshops complex is located in the inner city immediately to the south of Sydney's CBD and Central Station. It is comprised of two main building groups known as the Carriage Workshops (now known as Carriageworks) and the Locomotive Workshops, which are situated on either side of the main southern and western rail lines, between Redfern, Erskineville and Macdonaldtown Stations and between Darlington to the north and Alexandria to the south. The site is mostly made up of industrial railway buildings, offices and infrastructure related to its historic use as a carriage and locomotive building and maintaining workshops. The site’s immediate surroundings contain densely developed residential suburbs, typically situated within a number of heritage conservation areas, and mixed commercial and industrial areas (DCMP 2002).

The area bounded by Wilson Street and the rail corridor and associated with the Carriage Workshop building, also including the former Macdonaldtown gasworks site, is referred to as the ‘North Eveleigh Precinct’. The area on the other side of the rail corridor associated with the Locomotive Workshops is referred to as the ‘South Eveleigh Precinct’, within which the Australian Technology Park site (ATP) is situated (though ATP is not railway owned and not included in this listing). The area between the North and South sides is the railway corridor and has 6 running lines, some small hut structures and dives.

Information used here is sourced from the Draft Conservation Management Plan (Otto Csehalmi & Partners, 2002) and the North Eveleigh Concept Plan Heritage Impact Statement (Weir & Philips, 2014). See full reports for further details.

Items of Exceptional Significance
N3: Carriage Workshops (1887): The masonry load-bearing walls are laid in English bond with semi-circular arches of white brick and sandstone sills and ridge capping. The roof is iron and steel roof trusses and clad with corrugated iron. The original form of the building and its original brickwork survive, though it has been adapted for modern use.
N4: Paint Shop (1887): A large single storey building containing 8 roads in the brick section and 5 roads in the adjacent metal clad section. Each road is separated by a single row of cast iron columns which support the saw tooth south light roof.
N6: Chief Mechanical Engineers Office (1887, plus later additions): A large two-storey building constructed of brick. Externally the building is almost unaltered since the 1920s and includes the original 1887, 1900 and 1920 stages. Internally the building has been largely altered with later office partitioning and modern ceilings, though some original features remain. Also associated moveable relics – see below.
N5: Scientific Services Building No 1 (and addition – Little Significance) (1916/1969): This two storey building is constructed of cavity face brickwork. It is rectangular in plan. The roof has a hipped, gabled form with a double transverse gable clad in terracotta tiles. Most internal equipment has been removed.
N12: Fan of Tracks (1884): Associated with the northeast elevation of the Paint Shop. Provides a rail interface between the open areas of the site, the buildings, and their various functions.
N24: Traverser No 1 (1901) (trolley replaced 1971 - Moderate): Runs on six rails between the Paint Shop and the Carriage Shops.
N25: Traverser No 2 (1901) (trolley replaced 1971 - Moderate): Runs on six rails between the Carriage Shops and the Former Timber Store, which is no longer extant. It has one axle at the rear which is connected to the driving mechanism and the six wheels at the front run on stub axles which are supported with massive brackets either side of the wheel.

Items of High Significance
N13: Brick Retaining Wall (pre 1887): The site is delineated by a high bank running from the western end of Wilson Street to the former pedestrian entry opposite Ivy Street. Sections of this bank have brick retaining walls consisting mostly of English bonded brickwork in some sections over 4 metres in high. The retaining wall forms the northern wall of some structures along Wilson Street.
N2: Blacksmith's Workshop (1907): This one storey building is approximately 160 metres long and 20 metres wide with a steel framed structure supporting steel roof trusses. The roof is corrugated steel. The floor is concrete/dirt. The building is open completely to the south but protected by a 3 metre wide awning for much of its length. Most of the northern wall consists of a retaining wall to Wilson Street.
N7: Telecommunications Equipment Centre (c1912): The walls are solid English bonded brickwork. The roof material retains its corrugated iron but modern translucent sheets have replaced the ‘patent glazing’ shown on the plans. The interior plan layout is almost exactly like the 1912 plan with only minor changes such as the removal of the central walls in the Test Room and the Foreman’s Office and a new opening in the south wall to provide undercover access to the original external toilet block.
N27: Gasometre (1892): Remaining at the west end of Eveleigh is one of two former gasometres from the MacDonaldtown Gas Works. The remaining gasometre is a large circular dome-shaped bell that fits between a ring of columns rising about 20 feet above the earth. The bell itself sits in a hole extending approximately 20 feet below the ground and is about 60 feet in diameter.

Items of Moderate Significance
N1: Clothing Store (General Store) (1913): The rectangular, two-storey, gable ended building is of masonry construction with brickwork laid in English Bond. The gable-ended facades are articulated by recessed panels of brickwork, the central one topped with a semi-circular arch, and are topped by high parapets. The building is largely intact, with some external additions and original windows replaced with aluminium windows.
N10: Reclamation Shed (c1937): A shed approximately 54 m long x 6.5 m wide, housing a class 3 1.5 ton crane. The existing structure conforms to the 1937 drawing.
N11: Air Raid Shelters - North (1942): A WWII 70 metre long concrete shelter built into the embankment adjacent to Wilson Street. (Note: Air Raid Shelters in South Eveleigh site assessed as 'high' significance’, due to degree of intactness and size).
N15: Compressor House (1913): A simple, single storeyed structure with four large King post timber roof trusses. The walls and roof are sheeted with corrugated metal. The louvred paned sashes in the eastern gable are early while the large timber hopper windows are likely to date from the 1950s.
N16: Paint Shop Extension/Suburban Car Workshops (c1912): Large, rectangular building regularly articulated with sawtooth roof bays running east west. Translucent skylight panels are mounted in each sawtooth. The steel-framed structure is generally clad and roofed with corrugated iron sheets. It has a concrete slab floor and foundations and timber framed windows to the northern façade. The southern wall of the building is shared with the original Paint Shop wall immediately adjacent.
N26: Overhead Footbridge remains (c1914): Linked Wilson Street to Carriage Works site and across the main line to the Locomotive Workshop. Remnants include: cobble stones at Wilson Street entry; sandstone retaining walls and brick wall of the ramp area; railway sleeper balustrade posts; and fine brick pylons adjacent to and between the main railway tracks.

Items of Little Significance
N8: Pedestrian Entry, Observation Platform & Substation (2006)
N9: Spring Store remains (Bulk Store) (1915)
N17: Fire Protection and Drug Analysis Building (1981)
N18: Emergency Services Vehicle Shed (1970-1991)
N19: Outward Parcels Depot/Trackfast Depot (1956)
N20: Asbestos Removal Unit (1970)
N21: Scientific Services Building No 2 (1966)
N22: Outbuildings (c1912/1970)
N23: Carpenters, Plumbers and Food Distribution Building (1981)

Information used here is sourced from the South Eveleigh Heritage Assessment (Futurepast Heritage Consulting, 2015). See full report for more details.

Items of High Significance:
S38: Large Erecting Shop (1898-1906): Rectangular building, approximately 185 metres in length (running east-west) and 36 metres in width, formed as two parallel bays with gable roofs. It has brick masonry load-bearing walls laid in English bond with double semi-circular arched windows in corbelled and polychrome brickwork. Internally, cast-iron columns support steel roof trusses clad with corrugated metal sheets and clear alsynite panels and overhead cranes run the length of both bays.
S33: Air raid shelters - South (c1942): A continuous row of rectangular, reinforced concrete rooms built with their rear against an embankment and their southern frontage facing the workshop buildings. The southern façade is punctuated by over 12 door openings, with some infilled. There are no doors to the shelters and it is presumed that the original right-angled blast-walls that would have sheltered the door openings have all been removed. The roof of the shelters is framed by a parapet of timber sleepers. These shelters are a much larger sample than those on the south side and in a better condition/intactness.

Items of Moderate Significance:
S15: Sand tower (1943 – 1949; relocated 1966): The tower consists of a large welded steel cylindrical tank with a conical hopper base, from which large flexible hoses hang down to near ground level, over a single rail track siding. Below the tank, and above the rail track, a steel portal frame carries a corrugated steel gable roof and side wall cladding.
S18: South-western Turntable (1891 or 1925): New pit, drive and annular rail in 1965/66. The turntable spans 75 feet and is comprised of a large concrete-lined circular basin with a raised central cone, on which a riveted plate web girder bridge carrying a pair of rails revolves.
S19: Office and Amenities (1965-1970): Rectangular two-storey building. Concrete post and beam frame, with brick cladding and a flat roof behind an encircling parapet. The building adjoins the workshop building on its north and east sides.
S20: Eveleigh Maintenance Centre (1962-1966): Constructed of precast, exposed-aggregate concrete cladding panels on a steel portal frame, with corrugated steel sheet roofing.
S28: Substation and First Aid Building (c1965): Single storey brick building of a tapering rectangular shape, fitted into the area at the western end of the Office and Amenities Building. It has a flat roof, with plain bargeboards around the parapet.
S29: Xplorer - Endeavour Service Centre administration building (1965): A two storey brick building that is largely rectangular but tapers towards the southwest end. It has metal-framed windows and doors, and a flat concrete roof. The interior of the building is fitted out as administrative/office space.
S30: Xplorer - Endeavour Service Centre warehouse (early 20thC): A steel framed warehouse with the side walls formed by the two adjacent buildings and end walls of corrugated steel, with a west-facing sawtooth roof comprising nine sections.
S31: Xplorer - Endeavour Service Centre (1899, altered 1919, 1964): A steel-framed, single storey building clad in profiled aluminium sheeting with a gabled roof. The columns support a large riveted plate-web girder carrying the overhead travelling crane track. The roof is clad in corrugated steel sheeting, with polycarbonate sheet skylights that run perpendicular to the roof ridge.
S32: Compressor House (1914, reclad 1960s): A large, timber framed, steel sheet clad building attached as a lean-to on the northern side of the Xplorer – Endeavour Service Centre building. The northern side of the building is clad in profiled steel sheeting, while the remaining three sides are clad in irregular-sized corrugated steel sheets. The roof structure consists of exposed timber trusses and purlins, which is likely the only original building material present. On either side of the Compressor House are smaller awning structures, the larger of which shelters the effluent water treatment plant.
S34: Eveleigh Yard Subway (1925-1927): The subway is a rectangular tunnel 80 metres in length, running below the rail tracks between the Carriage Workshops and the Loco Workshops at Eveleigh. Walls are brick lined and the floor and ceiling are concrete. Both ends are accessed by a flight of brick steps from ground level and there is one flight of steps within the tunnel, near the southern end.

Items of Little Significance:
S1: Communications and Control systems office (c1980s)
S2: Storage Shelter (c2000)
S3: Communication and control systems office (c2000)
S4: Communication and control systems office (c1980s)
S5: Railway signalling operations group (x3 buildings) (c. 1990-2000s)
S6: ESL Signals/Communications Substation (c1990s)
S7: Site security Gatehouse (c2003)
S8: Civil and mains depot office (1990s)
S9: Storage shed (1990s)
S10: Storage shed (1990s)
S11: Storage shed (1990s)
S12: Open shelter (1990s)
S13: Open shelter (1960s)
S14: Erskineville substation (2006-7)
S16: Garage (c1990s)
S17: Storage shed (c1990s)
S21: Car Port (c2005)
S22: Telecommunications building (c1990)
S23: Office and car port (2009-2011)
S24: Welding qualifications centre (1965-1970)
S25: Gas Tank Shelter (2013)
S26: Eveleigh maintenance centre substation (2013)
S27: Train Washing shed (1965)
S35: Xplorer and Endeavour Service Centre Office (1965)
S36: Remnant footings of Car-cleaning Shed (1965)
S37: Memorial Plaques (1925-1927)


Items of High Significance
C10: Engine Dive & Vents (x 6)

Items of Moderate Significance
C5: Down Illawarra Dive (c1920)
C6: Up Illawarra Dive (c1920)
C9: Elstons Sidings and Buffers

Items of Little Significance
C1: Signalling Hut
C2: Shunter’s Hut
C3: Sectioning Hut (west)
C4: Sectioning Hut (east)
C7: Signalling Equipment Room
C8: Former Signal Depot Office

North Eveleigh Precinct
- Items associated with the CME’s Building: toilet bowl with counterweight seat, wall mirror frame, timber plan cabinet, 6 draws. Extant 2011.
- Roof trusses from Carriageworks building (near fan of tracks area).
- Second pivot crane relocated from South Eveleigh for static display. Located outside Carriageworks building on Wilson Street side.

South Eveleigh Precinct
- Air Compressor - Ingersoll Rand (1914) (Fair) (High Significance)
- Air Compressor – Thompson Castlemaine (1954) (Fair) (Moderate Significance)
- Air Compressor - Thompson Castlemaine (1954) (Fair) (Moderate Significance).
- Air Compressor – Atlas Copco (1970) (Fair) (Little Significance)

In storage (former Apprentice Workshop):
Composite piece of machinery made by Railway apprentices, stored outside
No Entry steel security door, made by railway apprentices
Large collection of various objects in storage, including but not limited to:
Steel trolley/barrow, painted yellow
Workshop machinery comprising metal lathes, grinders, pedestal drills, bending machines
Metal wall sign – “1937 Pay bus restored by RailCorp Apprentices June 2008 – June 2009”
Galvanised cans
Metal cans with taps, painted red
Timber carriage windows in storage
Two timber rollover indicator boards, one single (unknown location) and one double ex-Banksia Station
Tall timber 5x7 pigeonhole shelving cupboard
Timber desk with two drawers
Cast iron grates in storage
Timber trolley, painted green – “Way and Works Painters”
Tall timber cupboard with two doors and key
Industrial sewing machine and remnant carriage upholstery vinyl in storage
Loose RailCorp signage – metal and vinyl
Short timber bench
NSWGR Locomotive Depot honour board for officers in charge and assistant managers
City Rail carriage model
Collection of framed prints and photographs c1980s
Large timber diagonally sheeted sliding doors in storage
Painted sign – “Danger – Employees working on this … “

The site contains industrial landscapes within a surrounding residential area. The site is delineated on the northern side by the cutting down from Wilson Street supported by the brick retaining wall, which was undertaken to level the site for construction. Most areas are clear of vegetation and paved.

The two sides of the site are split by the main running lines, and subsidiary rails are found throughout the site and contribute to the story of an important part of the site’s operational history. The first rail lines on the Carriageworks site were installed to the stores during 1882. Rails were laid at the eastern end of the site during 1883 and 1884 including the majority of the fan sidings to serve the Paint Shop and the sidings on both sides of the main Carriage and Wagon Workshops. Further sidings were laid to the Paint Shop in 1885 and 1886 presumably including the lines within the building (DCMP 2002).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
S33, Air raid shelters - South (c1942), Fair
S38, Large Erecting Shop (1898-1906), Good
S1, Communications and Control systems office (c1980s), Good
S10, Storage shed (1990s), Good
S11, Storage shed (1990s), Good
S12, Open shelter (1990s), Good
S13, Open shelter (1960s), Good
S14, Erskineville substation (2006-7), Good
S16, Garage (c1990s), Very Good
S17, Storage shed (c1990s), Very Good
S2, Storage Shelter (c2000), Good
S21, Car Port (c2005), Good
S22, Telecommunications building (c1990), Good
S23, Office and car port (2009-2011), Good
S24, Welding qualifications centre (1965-1970), Good
S25, Gas Tank Shelter (2013), Good
S26, Eveleigh maintenance centre substation (2013), Good
S27, Train Washing shed (1965), Good
S3, Communication and control systems office (c2000), Good
S35, Xplorer and Endeavour Service Centre Office (1965), Fair
S36, Remnant footings of Car-cleaning Shed (1965), Fair
S37, Memorial Plaques (1925-1927), Fair
S4, Communication and control systems office (c1980s), Good
S5, Railway signalling operations group (x3 buildings) (c. 1990-2000s), Good
S6, ESL Signals/Communications Substation (c1990s), Good
S7, Site security Gatehouse (c2003), Good
S8, Civil and mains depot office (1990s), Good
S9, Storage shed (1990s), Good
S15, Sand tower (1943 – 1949; relocated 1966), Good
S18, South-western Turntable (1891 or1925), Good
S19, Office and Amenities (1965-1970), Good
S20, Eveleigh Maintenance Centre (1962-1966), Good
S28, Substation (c1965), Good
S29, Xplorer - Endeavour Service Centre administration building (1965), Very Good
S30, Xplorer - Endeavour Service Centre warehouse (early 20thC), Very Good
S31, Xplorer - Endeavour Service Centre (1899, altered 1919, 1964), Very Good
S32, Compressor House (1914, reclad 1960s), Poor
S34, Eveleigh Yard Subway (1925-1927), Fair

C10: Engine Dive & Vents (x 6), Good
C5: Down Illawarra Dive, Good
C6: Up Illawarra Dive, Good
C9: Elstons Sidings and Buffers, Poor
C1: Signalling Hut, Good
C2: Shunter’s Hut, Good
C3: Sectioning Hut (west), Good/Fair
C4: Sectioning Hut (east), Good/Fair
C7: Signalling Equipment Room, Good
C8: Former Signal Depot Office, Good

At the time of preparation, up to date condition information was not available for the North Eveleigh Precinct.
Date condition updated:10 Dec 08
Modifications and dates: 1883: Stores 1 and 2 constructed
1887: Chief Mechanical Engineers Office built.
c1888: Carriage and Wagon Workshops and Paint Shop built
c1888: Macdonaltown Gasworks built
1895: Signal Box completed
1899: Large Erecting Shop added to the site.
1901: New foundry and laundry completed.
1901: Traversers Nos 1 & 2 installed
1902: Most overhead cranes in workshops converted to electric drives. A new copper and tinsmiths shop erected.
1906: Extension to Chief Mechanical Engineers building
1907: The New Locomotive Shop designed and constructed. A new compressor house constructed.
1909: Blacksmiths Shop erected along Wilson Street
c1911: Carriage Shop extension (now called Cables Store)
c1911 Spring Store built adjacent to Wilson Street
c1912: Telegraph Workshop built (now Telecommunications Equipment Centre)
1913: Paint Shop extension added
1913: General Store erected
1913: New Illawarra Junction Signal Box erected (no longer extant)
1914: Electrification of machinery in the workshops. New Locomotive Shop extended to the south.
1917: Resumption of adjacent houses to the south for the Alexandria Goods Yard. Several new buildings completed, leading to a rearrangement of the workshops.
1922: Materials Testing Laboratory/Scientific Services Building completed.
1923: CME’s Drawing office built (later Train Equipment Section) (no longer extant)
1925: Northmost bay of Running Shed demolished.
1926: Store 3 built in between Stores 1 and 2. Stores 1 and 2 shortened at southern ends to make way for new tracks.
1926: Electric Train Drivers Instruction School built on the site of the former Tarpaulin Shed (no longer extant).
1937: Reclamation Shed added
1942: Air Raid Shelters built
1965: Southern and middle bay of Running Shed demolished, along with the Train Washing facilities.
1966/67: South Eveleigh coal stage was demolished. The turntable was removed and reconstructed approximately 60 metres north-east and a new sand bin was erected alongside the turntable.
1970s: Workshops rearranged internally to update the works and the Spring Shop was removed (Spring Store at North Eveleigh remained until post-2002)
1970s: Alexandria Goods Yard leased to private companies as a freight storage and terminal.
1985: Alexandria Goods Yard closed, trackwork removed and the buildings demolished. Footbridge at southern end removed.
c1990s: Footbridge at western end of Redfern platforms demolished
c1990: Railway operations in the Locomotive Workshops and Carriage Workshops ceased (South Eveleigh precinct continuing in active railway operation).
2008: Carriage Works building adapted for use as an arts space
c2010: Stores Buildings 1,2,3 & 4 demolished
c2010: Carriage Shop Extension, Boilermaker’s Shop, Timber Store extension demolished
2013: Transfer of Lots 1, 2 & 3 of DP 1175706 to Urban Growth Development Corporation
Further information: Also see Eveleigh Railway Workshops SHR listing #01140.
Current use: Rail Maintenance, Performing Arts space, unused land/buildings.
Former use: Railway workshops and yards, Chief Mechanical Engineers Office


Historical notes: This is a historical summary of main site events and is not intended to be a comprehensive history of the site – refer to other sources for more detailed information. The summary has been compiled from the following key documents (and others as referenced): Eveleigh Carriageworks Draft Conservation Management Plan (2002), Dept of Public Works; North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS (2008), Weir Philips; South Eveleigh Heritage Assessment (2015) Futurepast Heritage Consulting; Eveleigh Rail Workshops State Heritage Register listing; Eveleigh Rail Workshops Section 170 Heritage Register listing. It includes information relating to the ATP site, though this area is not included within this listing.

Pre 1788 & Indigenous History
The area of Redfern today forms part of a wider expanse of land traditionally occupied by the Carrahdigang people. Redfern's natural landscape was defined by sand hills and swamps and was valued for its abundant supply of food.

During the late 19th and 20th centuries, many Aboriginal people found employment in the factories in Redfern, Chippendale, Waterloo and Alexandria (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS 2008). Oral history collected for the DCMP 2002 indicates a perception that few Aboriginal people were employed at Eveleigh, though Aboriginal associations with Redfern became more pronounced in the 1970s with the Aboriginal Housing Company purchasing properties there.

Extensive excavation and levelling took place at the site from 1835 to 1880. A report by Austral Archaeology states that the cutting and filling carried out for railway purposes is likely to have disturbed and/or destroyed evidence of previous uses, leaving at best fragmentary features and deposits (Archaeological Assessment of Eveleigh Carriage Workshops, 2000, p15).

1788 - 1880: Early European Settlement & Establishment of the NSW Railway
The name Redfern originates from an early land grant to William Redfern in 1817. It was previously known as Roberts Farm and Boxley's Swamp. Redfern’s grant was subdivided into 5 lots in 1834. A villa was constructed on a portion of the land around 1840, named Everleigh House, which would eventually give its name to the surrounding area (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS 2008).

Early land grants in the area were made to Davies, Hutchinson, Chisholm, King, Chippendale and Shepard. Hutchinson also had very extensive holdings in Waterloo. There was little development of these sites until the late 1870s (South Eveleigh Heritage Assessment 2015).

By the late 1850s Redfern was a flourishing suburb housing 6500 people and by the end of the 19th century was an industrial working class suburb. The Sydney population continued to grow, influenced by transport patterns.

The first railway in NSW, from Sydney to Parramatta, began with the turning of the first turf in the Cleveland Paddock in 1850 and opened in 1855. From there the railway system expanded rapidly under the direction of Chief Mechanical Engineer John Whitton, including into country areas, reaching the border to Victoria in 1881 and to Queensland in 1888 (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS 2008). Eveleigh Station opened in 1878 (renamed Redfern Station in 1906). The former Redfern Station was renamed Sydney Terminal (Central).

Faced with expansion and the need to produce railway infrastructure, the existing yards became inadequate and planning for a new workshops commenced with a site chosen in 1875.

1880 – 1895: Foundation of Eveleigh & Initial Phase of Construction
The site for the Eveleigh railway yards was resumed in 1878 and the compensation price settled in 1880. Clearance began two years later. Much work went into the design and construction of the buildings because of the sandy nature of the soil.

When John Whitton first conceived the idea of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops, it was designed to be the major railway workshop in NSW, supplemented by smaller workshops at regional centres. Their main tasks were the maintenance and repair of locomotives and railway stock and the manufacture of rolling stock such as wagons and passenger carriages. At the time there were no other facilities in NSW for the construction of locomotives (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

The workshops were to be set up on both the north and the south sides of the main western and southern railway lines, which led to a duplication of some workshop functions, but the really heavy work such as forging and casting of ferrous and non-ferrous metal, was to be carried out on the locomotive side.

Responsibility for the new works fell to George Cowdrey, Engineer for Existing Lines, also influenced by William Thow, Chief Mechanical Engineer at the time (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

In 1883 a series of timber buildings were completed. Sidings were laid along most of the length of the site and into buildings and new turn tables, cranes and platforms erected to handle the loading and unloading of wagons. The report for the following year notes the completion of ‘a subway at Eveleigh’, presumably the tunnel than runs under the lines built to allow small goods wagons and goods from the stores to be moved from one side of the line to the other.

George Fishburn was awarded the contract for bays 1-4 of the Locomotive Workshops in 1884 and work was commenced soon after. They were officially opened in 1887. Workshops 5-15 were opened later in the year. This initial building phase in the 1880s also included the construction of bays 16-25 of the Carriage Sheds, the Paint Shop and various smaller buildings and the associated turntables, traversers and rail lines.

The Chief Mechanical Engineers Office was constructed in c.1887 as part of the expansion of the site. The building was extended to the east in c.1900, almost doubling in size. A small extension was carried out to the southern side c.1920 (Chief Mechanical Engineer’s building, State Heritage Register Listing).

In the late 1880s the Eveleigh complex became one of the largest employers in the state. Development continued into the 1890s. The workshops were open every day of the week until 1892 when union negotiations led to the workshops being closed on Saturdays.

Eveleigh developed strong working and social networks. The yard has been credited as being pivotal in the Australian Labour Movement, with the formation of the Amalgamated Railway and Tramway Service Association in 1886 (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS 2008).

For most of its operational life, management of Eveleigh Carriageworks fell mainly under the control of the Mechanical Branch (originally the Locomotive Branch). Initially, this branch was headed by the Locomotive Engineer, a title later changed to Mechanical Engineer and then Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME). The Car and Wagon Workshops were under the care of the Car and Wagon Superintendent (later called the Work Manager). The Superintendent was responsible for all workshop facilities around the city and state (DCMP 2002). There was also a separate Stores Branch managed by a Stores Manager.

Annual reports record the small amount of work carried out in the early 1890s due to the economic depression, changes to work practices and reduced hours. In 1896, it was reported that the Carriage and Wagon workshops had again been working full time through the year (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS 2008).

1895 – 1927: Continued Expansion
The period 1895 to 1927 were years of expansion at the Carriage and Wagon Workshops and passenger numbers and goods tonnage hauled rose dramatically in the years before World War I. To alleviate the resultant congestion at Eveleigh, the wagon repairing function was gradually moved to a new site at Clyde between 1909 and 1913 and the whole of the former Carriage and Wagon workshops were given over to carriage works (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

For some time Eveleigh had its own gas works which were located near MacDonaldtown Station. However, in 1901 with the establishment of Ultimo Power Station, which belonged to the Rail and Tramway Department, electric power was made available to the workshops (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

The rail yards continued to develop and in 1907 the Commissioners for Railways decided to begin the manufacture of new locomotives at Eveleigh and the New Locomotive Shop was designed and constructed for this purpose. Additional land was resumed to the south-west and 230 houses were demolished to allow for the construction of the Alexandria Goods Yard sometime around 1917 (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

During World War I, 8,500 railway employees enlisted and the Carriageworks were occupied in carriage conversions to support war functions.

During the 1920s, the electrification of the Sydney suburban lines and the construction of the City Railway, as well as the opening of the Harbour Bridge and its necessary rail component, contributed to the volume of works being put through the yard. The Eveleigh Carriageworks converted many existing carriages to electric power and lighting (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

1927 – 1945: Beginning of Decline
It was during the 1920s, however, that the seeds for the decline of Eveleigh were sown with the move towards the use of steel, as opposed to timber, carriages. During 1925 the manufacture of new locomotives ceased. In 1926, ‘Elcar’ opened at Chullora to repair and maintain the growing number of electric carriages. The number of carriages passing through Eveleigh began to decline (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

The only later works approaching the initial works in quality were the General Store (now the Clothing Store), the Telegraph Workshop (now the Telecommunication Equipment Store) and the southern façade of the Carriage Shop Extension (later Cable Store) (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

The early 1930s were a difficult period for railway employees. Between January 1929 and March 1930 there were over 1,600 retrenchments. Wage rationing was instituted and award rates cut (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

As a result of World War 2 (1939-45), bays 5-6 were cleared of machinery in 1940 and plans drawn up for the installation of equipment supplied by the Department of Defence for the manufacture of 25lb field gun-shells. Machinery for shell manufacture was installed as well as an ammunitions annex. By 1943 the Department of Defence had organised its own factories. Production of the shells at Eveleigh ceased in 1945 and the construction of new locomotives was reintroduced. This post-war locomotive manufacturing lasted until 1952 when Eveleigh once again became a repair and maintenance facility (North Eveleigh Concept Plan HIS, 2008).

New buildings added to the site were generally simple corrugated iron or timber clad structures, with little of the imposing character of earlier buildings.

1945 – 1988: Post WWII Decline & Closure
Coinciding with these changes, the end of the war brought new competitors for railways in the form of economical road and air transport. The decision to abandon steam locomotives in 1963 meant that Eveleigh, which was dedicated to steam locomotive maintenance and repair, entered its final phase. By the 1970s work was concentrated on overhauls and painting.

The Locomotive Works were closed by the end of 1987 and the Suburban Car Workshops of the Carriageworks finally closed in 1989. During the final two years of operation, the 1912 extension to the Paint Shop was renamed the Suburban Car Workshops and was used to overhaul the remaining electric ‘red rattlers’ after the Tangara carriages were introduced.

1980s - Present:
After closure, bays 5-15 were used by Paddy's Markets while other buildings on the site were demolished over an extended period. In 1991 the NSW Government announced the creation of a technology park at Eveleigh in association with the University of NSW, the University of Sydney and the University of Technology.

In 1990, all railway operations in the Locomotive Workshops and Carriage Workshops ceased, leaving only the South Eveleigh Precinct continuing in active railway operation.

In 1994 Paddy's Markets returned to Haymarket. City West Development Corporation took ownership of the Locomotive Workshops, bays 1-15, in addition to the New Locomotive Shed and the Manager's Office.

In 1996, the Diesel Loco Servicing Depot was remodelled to become the maintenance depot for all Endeavour and X-plorer trains. Around the same time, the diesel refuelling station was removed.

In 2008 the Carriage Workshops were converted into the CarriageWorks Drama and Arts Precinct. The former Alexandria Goods Yard areas were subdivided and the eastern part transferred to ATP and the western part redeveloped for new housing, with new streets created (Rowley St, Explorer St, Aurora Place).

In 2002, ACDEP was redeveloped as the Eveleigh Maintenance Centre, which today is operated by Downer EDI Rail and services both the Millennium and Oscar sets.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Eveleigh Railway Workshops are of considerable historical significance to the state of NSW as an integral component of the NSW railway network, which was instrumental in the development of the state during the 19th and 20th century. The Eveleigh site was essential to the operation, function, growth and development of the railway service for over 100 years from the late 1880s. The site retains evidence of an early phase of railway development in NSW, with some elements of the site dating from 1887.

The large scale expansion of the site through the late 19th and early 20th centuries is reflective of the growth of the NSW railways during this time, and the history of the site parallels and demonstrates the history of the NSW Government Railways, as well as broader important historical events including the 1930s economic depression and the world wars.

Though many structures and items have been removed, the remaining site evidence reads as a living interpretation of the technological, administrative, social and cultural developments in over 100 years of railway operations in NSW, including the major transition from steam to diesel and electric powered train maintenance.

While much of the site and its buildings have been converted to modern uses, links to railway work and practices remain onsite to this day.

The workshops have also heavily influenced the history and development of the local area, which was developed to cater for workers accommodation and housing, provided employment and created the industrial character of the area that continues today.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Eveleigh Railway Workshops have significance for their association with John Whitton who conceived the workshops. Whitton was Engineer-in-Chief for the NSW Railways between 1856 and 1899, and is considered the Father of New South Wales Railways. They are also important by association with George Cowdrey, Engineer for Existing Lines, who was responsible for executing the works, and William Thow, Chief mechanical Engineer at the time.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Eveleigh Railway Workshops are of aesthetic significance to the state of NSW for their size, scale, industrial form and character, and finely executed buildings demonstrating architectural and engineering merits.

The major buildings from the original 19th century development of the site are well designed, detailed and built exhibiting a high degree of unity of design, detailing and materials. The Carriage Workshops are exceptional examples of late 19th century large industrial buildings in NSW. The buildings are substantially intact from the original 1887 period, with finely detailed polychrome brickwork and well articulated facades that embody the pride of the late Victorian era (DCMP 2002).

Later site additions reflect the progressive shift in industrial architecture to functional, unadorned and modular configurations, designed to be readily adapted and changed as technology and work practice evolved.

The simple, strong functional forms of the buildings have landmark quality, not only as important townscape elements in the Redfern/Eveleigh area, but as part of the visual train journey of thousands of commuters, marking arrival in the city centre. The Workshops provide a distinctive landmark in the Sydney landscape and defines views to and from the site.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Eveleigh Railway Workshops are socially significant to the state of NSW for their large role in the community over 100 years of operation and as the historical site of significant social and cultural railway developments.

The Workshops are socially significant to a population of railways employees past and present. The site was one of the largest employers in Sydney at the turn of the century, declining only in the latter half of the 20th century, with some areas of the site still employing railway staff. The site was and is an important source of pride and in demonstrating the capacity of Australian industry and workers and a high level of technical achievement and craft skills.

The Workshops were associated with cultural and social developments in working conditions now crucial to the Australian cultural identity, for example, the weekend. They had an important association with the labour movement. The place was seen initially as a positive instrument of state socialism and in later periods as the site of important labour actions and of restrictive work practices.

Although no longer operating as a workshop, the place maintains symbolic value for the community at a local level as a former workplace and a place that provided economic input into the local area. As a prominent heritage icon it has social significance to current local and railway communities.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Eveleigh Railway Workshops have significance to the state of NSW for their capacity to contribute to an understanding the operation of late 19th and early 20th century large-scale railway workshops.

The layout and remaining physical evidence of the Workshops site demonstrates the technology and practices common to British railways at this time and is able to demonstrate its functionality. Processes of manufacture and maintenance of rolling stock is evidenced in the buildings, open spaces, circulation paths, rails, machinery, moveable items and services within the site. They contain the potential to achieve an understanding of the work practices of today through an understanding of the cultural continuity between 19th century technology and 21st century technology.

The research potential of the site is enhanced by the extent of archival material available and because the relatively recent closure means that there are many former workshop workers who are still alive and who know how the place operated. Research opportunities are also enhanced by the site’s central location.

There is potential for further research to yield information about the labour movement, labour relations and the nature of work practices in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Areas of the site have archaeological significance and the north has moderate to high potential to contain relics associated with historical, railway era occupation. The MacDonaldtown Gas Works site is archaeologically significant along with some areas having potential to contain Aboriginal remains.
SHR Criteria f)
Eveleigh Railway Workshops is significant for its rarity in NSW as a large and relatively intact historic railway workshop, which continues to retain links to railway operations.

While many items have been removed in the process of modern site development, the site still holds an exceptional and rare collection of historically and technically significant heavy machinery.
SHR Criteria g)
The Eveleigh Railway Workshops complex is representative of a Victoria era steam railway workshop. The physical form of the site, the buildings, the spatial arrangement, artefacts including machinery and services, open space and circulation patterns demonstrate a process of both railway manufacture and maintenance, and management functions originating in the 19th century and continuing with modification through the twentieth century. It is significant as one of the best surviving examples of railway workshop complexes.
Integrity/Intactness: Despite the removal of some items and the conversion of many areas and buildings to modern uses, the Eveleigh Railway Workshops retain a moderate degree of integrity and intactness. The overall character and form of the site is preserved through the retention of key buildings, equipment and rail infrastructure.
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 Study1999SRA102State Rail Authority  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAHMS2008North Eveleigh Railway Carriage Workshops, Redfern, NSW, Historical Archaeological Impact Assessment, Archaeological Zoning Plan, and Impact Mitigation Strategy
WrittenArupSustainability/Weir Phillips2008Statement of Heritage Impact – Eveleigh Heritage Walk
WrittenAustral Archaeology2000Archaeological Assessment of Eveleigh Carriage Workshops
WrittenDon Godden and Associates1986Eveleigh Railway Workshops Heritage Study
WrittenFuturepast Heritage Consulting2015South Eveleigh Precinct Heritage Assessment Vol 1 & 2
WrittenFuturepast Heritage Consulting2014Compressor House and Compressors Conservation Strategy Statement of Heritage Impact
WrittenHeritage Group, State Projects, NSW Public Works1995Eveleigh Railway Yards Locomotive Workshops CMP
WrittenHeritage Group, State Projects.1995Eveleigh Rail Yards Locomotive Workshops Conservation Management Plan
WrittenMott MacDonald Australia2014Eveleigh Workshops Electrical and Communications Services Upgrade Exemption Request – Concise Heritage Impact Statement
WrittenMott MacDonald Australia2012Heritage Study and Assessment of Heritage Significance Eveleigh Sand Tower and associated Small Brick Building
WrittenOtto Cserhalmi & Partners2002Carriage Works Draft Conservation Management Plan
WrittenRappaport/Caldis Cook1997Cheif Mechanical Engineers’s Building Conservation Management Plan
WrittenSchwager Brooks and Partners1994Eveleigh Precinct Sydney Conservation Policy
WrittenWeir Phillips2008Heritage Impact Statement – Concept Plan for North Eveleigh

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: 4801102

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