Kempsey Railway Station | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Kempsey Railway Station

Item details

Name of item: Kempsey Railway Station
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Kemp Street, Kempsey, NSW 2440
Local govt. area: Kempsey


RailCorp property boundaries as shown on vesting plan, R29725. It should be noted that the original area of the railway station has been reduced, and that there is an historical and visual relationship with the surrounding area not necessarily apparent from the current property boundaries. As such, any proposed development within the vicinity of the railway station should also consider the historic relationship between the station site and its surrounding area.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Kemp StreetKempseyKempsey  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Kempsey Railway Station is of local significance as a major railway location on the North Coast line which was important to the township in supporting logging and pastoral activities, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. The station building is an excellent and rare example of a large railway building from the 1940's located adjacent to the 1910's two-storey refreshment rooms which were constructed to accommodate the passenger traffic through to Brisbane. The station is a major structure in the town and it is complimented by the associated palm trees which contribute to the townscape setting.
Date significance updated: 30 Nov 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.


Construction years: 1917-1940
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building, type 13 (1940)
Refreshment Rooms (c.1917)
Platform (1940)

Type 13, single storey, brick station building with hipped, corrugated, asbestos cement sheeted roof. The building was designed with a signal box, station master’s office, booking office, parcels office, general waiting room, ladies waiting room and lavatories, and an out-of room. The brick station building features a common bond with double layered, header courses above and below the windows and midway between the window and the ground. The windows are timber and consist of 2 panels with the upper panel a small, rectangular awning or transom style. The platform side of the building is covered by an extensive, cantilevered awning, supported by and fixed to corbels from the brickwork. The platform wall is decorated by fixed, flower boxes. The property features a ramped street entrance and landscaping of palm trees at the rear of the building.

2 storey, brick Federation style construction utilising a combination of stretcher and English bond brickwork. The roof is tiled, pitched and includes a clerestory. The windows are double hung sash windows with the upper sashes consisting of a 3x3 panel configuration.

Brick faced

Mature palm trees.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Generally good condition.
Date condition updated:30 Nov 09
Modifications and dates: In 1985, the station building was modified to include a chargeman’s office, staff locker room, meal room, and bathrooms whilst the rest house building was demolished (Forsyth, 2009).

The ARTC managed goods shed was demolished in 2006. It was a timber construction with corrugated iron roof, awning and flat roof dormers and windows. The structure was elevated on brick piers and included a timber platform.
Current use: Railway Station
Former use: Nil


Historical notes: Kempsey Railway Precinct is located on the North Coast line, the major trunk line from NSW to Queensland.

Railways in the far north coast region had been proposed as early as the 1870s. The main aim was to divert rural products in the region to a safe shipping port on the coast, using rail transport. The early farming settlements of the North Coast region of NSW began in the late 1830s with the expanding pastoral industry forming the basis for several towns such as Casino and Kempsey along the north coast.

Kempsey also had a significant timber logging industry surrounded by forests rich with rosewood and cedar. Construction of the North Coast Railway from 1913 facilitated the managed logging of productive State Forests, particularly in the Great Lakes, Stroud, Wauchope and Coffs Harbour districts (McKillop, 2009). With cedar and rosewood in high demand, local logging pursuits and sawmills flourished in Kempsey until the 1960s when Australian Red Cedar tree deposits were sufficiently depleted to be considered a vulnerable species and commercial logging of the trees ceased in Kempsey. With the timber industry on the decline, the town turned to cattle farming and dairies.

The single line from Wauchope to Kempsey opened on 27 November 1917. The Wauchope to Kempsey section was constructed by the Public Works Department Railway Section, with work commencing on 18 November 1913. The station opened on 27 November 1917 by Mr Bell, Minister for Public Works (Forsyth, 2009).

The 1917 station building included an out-of room, ladies waiting room, general waiting room, booking office, and Station Master’s office. The original two storey brick railway refreshment room, opened in 1919, comprised of a dining room, bar, and kitchen on the lower level, and four bedrooms and a bathroom on the upper floor. A detached laundry, fuel shed, and toilets were also constructed behind the main building. Plans of the station precinct from 1922-1924 show the existence of a station master’s residence, goods shed, carriage shed, coal stage, turntable, roundhouse (constructed 1915), lamp room, and a proposed toilet block on the platform (constructed after the platform extension in 1925). A locomotive ash pit and water facilities were added to the precinct in 1925.

In 1940 the original station building was demolished and replaced by a new structure abutting the existing refreshment room. The new station building included a signal box, station master’s office, booking office, parcels office, general waiting room, ladies waiting room and lavatories, and an out-of room. A staff meal room was constructed as an annex to the refreshment room building during the late 1940’s (Simpson Dawbin, 2002)

Further changes and additions to the station precinct included the addition of a 90kL water tank in 1943 and an extension to the station building to include a traffic inspector’s office in 1951.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Transporting crops-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Forestry-Activities associated with identifying and managing land covered in trees for commercial purposes. Transporting timber and forest products-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Servicing the pastoral industry-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Transporting livestock and their products-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Kempsey railway precinct is significant for its historical values as a tangible link to the development of the North Coast line as well as the development of the NSW railways. The North Coast line was significant in linking the logging, agricultural and pastoral activities of the north coast to markets in both Sydney and Brisbane leading to significant economic and social impacts for individual townships as well as for NSW generally. The Kempsey railway precinct has local significance as a significant part of the township’s history and townscape. The Kempsey railway precinct and its elements were important to the township in supporting logging and pastoral activities, particularly in the first half of the 20th century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The station building and double storey refreshment room have prominence within the Kempsey townscape and are complimented by the mature trees which contribute to the townscape setting.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site is of social significance to the local community on account of its lengthy association for providing an important source of employment, trade and social interaction for the local area. The site is significant for its ability to contribute to the local community’s sense of place, is a distinctive feature of the daily life of many community members, and provides a connection to the local community’s past.
SHR Criteria f)
The station building is an excellent and rare example of a large railway building from the 1940's.
Integrity/Intactness: The station buildings have a moderate level of integrity.
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 register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA188State Rail Authority  No
Heritage and Conservation Register State Rail Authority of NSW1993113Paul Davies for SRA  No
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 ORH  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenJ.M. Cottee2004Stations on the track: Selected NSW Country Railway Stations: An Historical Overview
WrittenSimpson Dawbin Architects and Heritage Consultants2002Kempsey Railway Station - Building Report

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: 4801188

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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