Finley Railway Precinct | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Finley Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Finley Railway Precinct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Endeavour Street, Finley, NSW 2713
Local govt. area: Berrigan


RailCorp property boundaries as shown on vesting plan, R30701.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
Endeavour StreetFinleyBerrigan  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Finley Railway Precinct is of state significance as a rare and highly intact pioneer railway station precinct that has the ability to demonstrate the history and design of the first pioneer branch lines in NSW and the change from British to American railway construction techniques during the 1890s. The site is historically significant for its ability to demonstrate the NSW Government’s ambitious programme to open up the agricultural regions of the state to commerce and communication in the late 19th century and the intense competition between states for trade.

The line from Berrigan to Finley was the state’s first pioneer railway, and Finley station building is the earliest surviving timber pioneer railway station building in NSW constructed in 1898 for the opening of the line. The station building is one of only eight surviving pioneer station buildings in NSW that demonstrate the emergence of a distinct Australian style influenced by Federation sentiment and economic rationalism of the period. The collection of extant structures within the precinct including the station building, parcels office, signal box, goods shed, grain shed, crane and other related items have potential to yield information regarding late 19th and early 20th Century railway design and customs.

Finley Railway Precinct has special associations with the local Finley Pioneer Railway Committee who are instrumental in the on-going conservation and interpretation of the site.
Date significance updated: 27 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.


Designer/Maker: Henry Deane
Builder/Maker: Charles Baker
Construction years: 1898-1950
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES
Station Building - type 17, timber pioneer building (1898) and Platform - concrete (1941)
Goods Shed - sub type 4, 36'x18' corrugated iron, skillion roof (1898/1941)
Parcels Shed - timber frame, skillion roof (c.1908)
Signal Box - weatherboard cladding, skillion roof (post 1914)

Fettler’s Shed - corrugated steel sheets, skillion roof (c.1950)
Grain Shed and Loading Bank (1914/1941)
Stock Loading Bank - steel-reinforced concrete (1941)
Men’s Toilets - corrugated steel (2002)
Gantry Crane - 5 tonne, TW416 7146, steel (1903)
Weighbridge Relics - Platform Scale, border and counter weight fulcrum (1898)
Locomotive Dam (1898) – Located outside the precinct

The station building presents as a timber weatherboard Federation style ‘Pioneer’ railway building. The building is symmetrical and planned in a ‘U’ shape, with a central recessed verandah to the track with two projecting bays. The 1898 section of the station consisted of a store, ticket office, general waiting room, women’s waiting room and ladies lavatory and WC. All access is from the platform side.

The station building was built on an earthen embankment formed to elevate the station to the track and platform level. The eastern edge of the building rests on the earth, while the rear section of the building rests on timber stumps supplements with a few masonry replacements.

The building has a corrugated iron gabled roof and features two transverse gables to the projecting bays which feature timber finials. On the western side, the roof plan employs a hipped arrangement. The northern section of the roof eave overhang has been cut back level to the building with some internal roof reconstruction.

The building has a later extension to the south. The southern extension was incorporated into the roof plan with a simple skillion roof abutting to the original building. The verandah was later enclosed with sashed windows and weatherboard to the eastern line of the building while the original verandah overhang and the support posts were retained.

Two stormwater tank concrete pads survive on the southern end of the building. Numerous repairs and fill-ins have been made to the original beaded weatherboard with weatherboard of different design and dimension. Timber sunshades have been recently constructed over three of the western windows and the eastern double door. Much of the northern section appears to be rebuilt and rests on brick foundations.

The platform face to the main station building is concrete edged and bitumen topped at approximately 300 mm above track level and the later platform is a concrete structure with rail edge and sloping ramps retaining an earth filled area.

The goods shed and siding have undergone a series of alterations since their construction in 1898. While the shed has retained its original size, the size of its platform has been altered to match the goods movements required at Finley. The shed and platform are timber-framed and braced with Australian hardwood, resting on masonry piers. The shed has a skillion roof plan and the quad guttering drains to circular downpipe exhausting onto the ground. The goods shed is clad in corrugated galvanised iron. Timber barriers have been fixed to all elevations to prevent damage to the shed through goods handling.

The parcels shed is known through the NSWGR drawings as the 'Out of Room'. The building is a timber-framed structure and has a timber floor with a skillion roof plan falling to the platform or eastern side of the building. The parcel shed, like the passenger station, rests on stumps and/or piers to bring the structure to the level of the platform. The shed, however, is sited on the newer platform that was raised to meet the height of the trains serving the Finley Station. The western door opens to a timber parcel loading platform supported with steel rails.

SIGNAL BOX (post 1914)
The current signal box was moved to the platform location sometime after 1914. The foundations of the signal box are made from a reinforced concrete slab system. The signal box is constructed in timber with hardwood studs with grooved weatherboard cladding. The roof system is a simple skillion with a modest eave overhang on all elevations. The galvanised steel of the roof falls to a quad gutter above the station platform. The interior contains remnants of the signal apparatus, mechanical as well as electrical.

Made from steel rails vertically mounted into a reinforced concrete pad. Australian hardwood timbers are carriage-bolted to the steel rails and horizontal noggings applied. Corrugated steel sheets were fixed to the horizontal timbers with roofing clouts. The skillion roof sheets were nailed directly to the timber rafters without the use of battens. The skillion roof drained to a quad gutter that emptied into a tank resting on a circular reinforced concrete pad. The cladding to the structure has been removed.

The steel gantry is formed from I-beams and set into concrete pads. The winding mechanism is hand-operated. ID number is TW416 7146.

The grain shed and the grain shed site now consists of a reinforced concrete floor pad matching the footprint of the original grain shed and the remaining supports of the steel rails that once provided the structure for the roof of the shed.

The loading bank is an earthen berm designed to allow wheeled loads to be carted to the same level as the goods wagons. The bank is an engineered construction with an anchoring system set into the berm to prevent the reinforced concrete face of the bank from collapsing onto the siding. The weak areas of the platform are also clad with recycled steel rails to prevent damage to the concrete.

The stock loading bank is constructed in reinforced concrete with steel ties that anchor the loading bank wall adjacent to the siding into the earthen berm.

The new external toilet facilities at Finley station were re-constructed in 2002 to replicate the urinal and men’s closet constructed at the station in 1898. The original unit was constructed in timber on a concrete pad and clad in weatherboard and/or unidentified sheeting. The roof was formed in rolled corrugated steel finishing in half-round guttering. The gables were also enclosed in timber lattice.

The weighbridge building was removed as part of the Berrigan Shire road widening. The platform scale, border and counter weight fulcrum remain on site.

Evidence of previous sidings and rail track remain.

With the exception of the palm adjacent to the WC and the mature tree in the parking area, all plantings are introduced since the closure of the station and have no significance to the history of the station.

This is located outside the precinct. The water tank, as it is described in 1898 drawings, is also referred to locally as the 'loco dam'. The site of the pumping station remains visible and the pipe lines may still lie beneath the precinct.

The site of the pumping station remains visible and the lines may still lie beneath the precinct. Archaeology and additional historical research could establish the grading and drainage programme for the dam and the nature of the pump engine.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Station Building and Platform – Moderate/Good
Goods Shed - Good
Parcels Shed - Good
Signal Box - Good

Fettler’s Shed - Good
Grain Shed and Loading Bank - Good
Stock Loading Bank - Moderate
Locomotive Dam - Good
Men’s Toilets - Good
Gantry Crane - Good
Weighbridge Relics - Poor
Date condition updated:17 Dec 08
Modifications and dates: 1914: Goods shed and grain shed and loading bank modified. Passenger platform extended from 99 ft 12 in. to 157 ft.
1941: Gantry crane, goods shed and siding, grain shed and loading bank modified. Passenger platform shortened to 120 ft.
2002: Men's Toilets replaced with contemporary WC.
2012: HAZMAT remediation works undertaken
Current use: Tourist Centre
Former use: Railway Station


Historical notes: The economic depression of 1889 to 1894 brought a dramatic halt to railway construction in NSW and when expansion of the system resumed, it was under a new era of austerity. The most dramatic feature of the change was the advent of the 'Pioneer Lines' which was an innovation that represented a shift away from British railway practices to those used in the United States. In 1894, Henry Deane, the Engineer-in-Chief for Railway Construction visited North America and Europe to investigate cheaper methods of railway construction. Practices in the USA particularly interested him as the climate was much the same as that experienced in NSW. Deane noted that it was common to construct lines initially without using ballast, that being added when the line had earned sufficient profits to warrant the added expense. The US practices also included limited earth works, a reduced number of sleepers, light rails and a 20mph speed limit (McKillop, 2009)

Pioneer Line construction was subsequently adopted in NSW with the line to Berrigan and Finley being the state's first Pioneer railway. Pioneer lines were primarily constructed to serve expanding agricultural areas. The penetration of the railway into the Riverina area also represents the late 19th century concerns with Victorian competition for agricultural produce in this region. The shift to agriculture in the area brought more intensive land use and, accordingly farming communities required increased quantities of materials to be transported by rail, such as planting materials, fertilizer and fuel, together with machinery to till the soil and harvest the crops (McKillop, 2009).

The “Berrigan to Finley Railway Act” (No 26) was passed by the NSW Parliament in 1896. The line was built by the Public Works Department using day labour, and opened from Jerilderie to Berrigan (34.8km), opened on 14 October 1896 at a cost of £2036 per mile, and it was extended to Finley (22km) on 16 September 1898, with the line opening on 30 September 1898 (Nestor, 2000).

The contract for the construction of the Station Building, Goods Shed and Station Master’s Residence were awarded to Charles Baker and are all of simple timber construction. The original station platform was constructed at ground level on the up side. The station building was also constructed at ground level.

The design of the Station Building demonstrates the pioneer style of railway construction and the start of the period when railway design changed to a distinct Australian style of standardised railway architecture. In Australia the competing influences of the austerity of the 1890s depression and the emergence of an Australian identity through Federation brought simplicity and economy in the design of timber buildings for pioneer lines. The feature of the Pioneer design was the provision of purely utilitarian buildings erected at the lowest possible cost. This design was later adapted as the Standard A5 passenger building introduced in the early 1900s. The A5 was the major terminal station design used for country branch lines and had a ‘U’ shape with a central waiting room and ticket office flanked by a ladies waiting room and bathroom to one end and a storeroom to the other.

Finley remained as the terminus of the line until it was extended south to Tocumwal in July 1914. As such An Engine Shed and Locomotive watering facilities were also constructed in 1898 with water supplied from an excavated dam, with a pumping plant alongside and a 90kL round wrought iron water tank mounted on a round brick stand. A 101mm bore pipe supplied water to the tank and then to a water column between the goods loop and locomotive siding (Forsyth, 2009).

The arrival of the railway at Finley provided for the first time a direct link for the transporting of grain and other goods produced in the region to the Sydney market and ports. As such, the railway was a major factor in the successful development of the town at the turn of the century (Berrigan Shire Council, 2007).

The Goods Shed at Finley like other rural stations became a hive of activity at the station as wheat farmers and agents came to collect consignments unloaded from wagons left by passing goods trains (Forsyth, 2009).

Improvements were gradually made to the railway yard and its facilities including a carriage shed that was built in 1900 and extended in 1905. Two grain sheds were constructed 1901-02 and a Gantry Crane installed in 1903. A raised passenger platform was provided on 4 June 1908, though the station building always remained at ground level. Interlocking of the signals and points increased the level of safety from May 1914. In the years 1915 to 1926, three wheat stacking sites were gradually provided and sidings installed to serve them. In 1922 the first concrete wheat elevators, or silos were installed at Finley station. On 15 Jan 1927, the water facilities were removed (Nestor, 2000; Forsyth, 2009).

At the end of 1980, the engine shed and turntable were removed; in October 1982, the grain shed was demolished and in August 1986, most of the track, other than the main line (and miscellaneous sidings) were removed from Finley Station. The last freight train ran through Finley on 28 June 1985. The last railway service occurred in 1987.

Since closing for rail services, the remaining Station Building and other associated structures have been well conserved by the Finley Pioneer Rail Committee and local community and the site is currently used as the Finley Pioneer Railway Museum which interprets the story of 'Pioneer Lines'.

The Station Master’s Residence is still extant, but is now in private ownership.

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 Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Transporting agricultural supplies and machinery-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Forestry-Activities associated with identifying and managing land covered in trees for commercial purposes. Utilising timber for railway purposes-
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 Pioneer lines-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Provision of railway water supplies-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Rail heritage volunteers-
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]
Finley Railway Precinct has historic significance as a rare surviving example of the NSW Government Railway’s ambitious programme to open up the agricultural regions of the state to commerce and communication in the late 19th century. The penetration of the railway into the Riverina area also represents the late 19th century concerns with Victorian competition for agricultural produce in this region. The site is significant for its association with the construction of the first ‘pioneer’ railway in NSW and the change to American construction techniques rather than British design during the 1890s. The site is significant as the line terminus from 1898 until the line was extended to Tocumwal in 1914 and for its ability to demonstrate 80 years of railway operations and the expansion of railway facilities at the site to suit the changes in agricultural and railway practice.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Finley Railway Precinct has associations with the Engineer-in-Chief of the NSWGR, Henry Deane (1847-1924) who personally signed all of the engineering and construction drawings associated with the 1898 development of the Finley Railway and who was instrumental in the development and construction techniques of the Pioneer Lines in NSW.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Finley station building has aesthetic significance as a fine example of a pioneer railway station building. The building is important as the earliest surviving pioneer station building which demonstrates a new distinct Australian style influenced by Federation sentiment and economic rationalism of the period. Finley Railway Precinct has technical significance for its collection of railway items relating to signalling, the provision of water for locomotive use, the development of loading banks, grain storage and stacking and weighing facilities. The precinct presents as an excellent example of a railway station landscape.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The precinct has special associations with the Finley Pioneer Railway Committee who were instrumental in the preservation and on-going conservation and interpretation of the site.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Finley Railway Station has significance as a largely intact pioneer railway station precinct that has high potential to yield information regarding the construction of pioneer railway stations, platforms, ballast systems, water provision, stock and grain handling and signalling within the Pioneer system.
SHR Criteria f)
Finley Station Building is rare as the only pioneer railway station precinct surviving with this degree of intactness in NSW. The station building is noted as being only one of two extant station buildings in NSW constructed at ground level, the other example being Yass.
SHR Criteria g)
The site has representative significance for its collection of railway structures including the station building, parcels office, signal box, goods shed, grain shed, crane and other related items that collectively demonstrate widespread 19th and early 20th Century railway customs, activities and design in NSW, and are representative of similar items that are found in other railway sites across the state. The Finley station building is one of only 8 similar extant Pioneer buildings from the 27 originally planned in NSW, and is the earliest example of its type. The other stations are Crookwell, Grenfell, Inverell Station (relocated), Old Casino and Tumut which are also constructed of timber; and Coonamble and Narrabri which are constructed of brick. The Finley station building is noted as one of only two known railway buildings to remain that were constructed at ground level, the other being Yass.
Integrity/Intactness: The site retains many items from the opening of the station in 1898, and many other early 20th century buildings. Due to the relatively few alterations and overall good condition of the precinct, the site has a high 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 Study1999SRA283State Rail Authority  No
Heritage and Conservation Register State Rail Authority of NSW1993148Paul 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
WrittenBerrigan Shire Council2007Finley Pioneer Railway Station Heritage Inventory
WrittenCottee, J.M.2004Stations on the track: selected New South Wales country railway stations: an historical overview
WrittenGraham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd2007Finley Rail Heritage Precinct Conservation Management Strategy
WrittenJohn H Forsyth2009NSW Railway Stations - An Alphabetical Arrangement of Railway Station and Place Names
WrittenLove, Ray2000'Finley. The Railway History' in Kemp, Finley Railway Station Concept Plan
WrittenMcKillop, R2009NSW Railways (RailCorp) Thematic History
WrittenNestor, John2000'The Finley Railway Station' in Kemp, The Finley Railway Station Concept Plan.
WrittenSharp, Stuart1999State Rail in letter to Finley Tidy Towns Committee, 08/01
WrittenSharp, Stuart1982The Railway Stations of NSW. 1855-1980
Graphicvarious RailCorp Historic Plans

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: 4801283

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