Thirlmere Railway Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Thirlmere Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Thirlmere Railway Precinct
Other name/s: Redbank
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Station Street, Thirlmere, NSW 2572
Local govt. area: Wollondilly

Boundary:

North: southern side of Oaks St;South: northern side of Lakes St;East: property boundaries as shown in vesting plan R30494;West: property boundaries as shown in vesting plan R30494.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Station StreetThirlmereWollondilly  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Thirlmere Railway Precinct is of local significance as the place provides evidence of the pattern of early settlement and development in the area, having served as an important transport facility since the early 1880s as a steam baiting and locomotive storage depot on the Great Southern Line before it was re-routed between Picton and Mittagong in 1919. The station buildings, goods shed and residence are good representative examples of simple railway buildings from the late 19th and early 20th century period that were provided at many country locations. The building group has retained much of its original character, fabric and features. The site also makes an important contribution to the historic character of the town and has strong links with the local community for its long associations as a place of trade, employment and recreation. The place is of significance as a major centre for the conservation and preservation of rail heritage in the area and NSW.
Date significance updated: 15 Jun 11
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.

Description

Construction years: 1885-2010
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES
Station Buildings - type 4, third-class, timber (1885)
Signal Box - timber skillion roof (1885, relocated to site c.2000)
Goods Shed (c.1908)
Station Master’s Residence (1891)
Co-op Shed (c.1950)
Fettlers shed (n.d.)
Display Hall (c.1980, 2010)
Roundhouse (2009)
Exhibition Hall (2010)
Landscaping, amphitheater and forecourt (2010)

OTHER ITEMS
Platforms (1885, 1909)
Turntable (c.1950, relocated 1976 and 2009)
Water spout and tanks
Exhibitions


STATION BUILDING (1885)
A single-storey Victorian station building with weatherboard cladding. The roof is in corrugated metal with a verandah to the station platform supported on timber posts. There are two small, lean-to additions at each end. Low pitched, gabled roof clad with corrugated iron and finished with modestly decorated timber bargeboards and short finials. The main station building also has two brick fireplaces and chimneys as well as a skillion roofed awning over the platform supported on stop-chamfered timber posts. Various lean-to additions have been made to its street-frontage.

SIGNAL BOX (1885)
A single storey timber weatherboard building with multipaned glazing to the track side with a pitched corrugated metal roof. Introduced element from Warwick Farm station.

GOODS SHED (c.1908)
A single storey corrugated metal shed elevated on brick piers with a pitched corrugated metal roof. There are timber sheeted access doors both sides and there is a small section of the second platform to the front. The shed building features 12 paned sash windows.

PLATFORM (1885, 1909)
Side platform made of stone with brick extensions. Stone and brick coping with asphalt and gravel surface.

STATION MASTER’S RESIDENCE (1891)
Single storey, double fronted Victorian cottage in rendered masonry with verandah to the front with a painted corrugated metal roof on timber posts. Gable-roofed clad with corrugated iron and features a pair of painted brickwork chimneys symmetrically arranged along the ridge and simply detailed timber barge boards at either end.

The front elevation features a pair of 2x2 pane sash windows either side of the centrally located 4-panelled front door. Skillion lean to the rear with weatherboard additions.

CO-OP BUILDING (c.1950)
Single storey goods shed in two sections with a lower section to the station side and a higher section behind both in corrugated metal with a pitched corrugated metal roof. There are sliding timber sheeted doors both sides.

FETTLERS SHED (n.d.)
Simple single storey shed building clad in sheet metal with roller doors, housing perway display. The building may date from as early as c.1940 but appears to have been altered with modern cladding since construction. More research required.

DISPLAY HALL (c.1980, 2010)
Large single storey shed with a pitched metal deck roof on an open steel columns structure. The structure has continued to be altered and extended since construction, and was upgraded in 2010. The hall contains items of rolling stock for display and also houses part of the operational fleet.

ROUNDHOUSE (2009)
Modern steel framed structure to house rolling stock, clad in colourbond.

EXHIBITION HALL (2010)
A large modern steel framed building with large glazed openings and clad in steel. The hall contains exhibitions and displays of movable heritage items and railway history.

TURNTABLE (c.1950, relocated 1976 and 2009)
The 105-foot turntable was originally located at the No. 3 Roundhouse site at Enfield steam locomotive depot in the 1950s. It is one of the few items of Enfield’s infrastructure to be preserved and it was relocated during the 1970s when the NSWRTM moved its exhibits to Thirlmere. Relocated to new site in 2009.

WATER SPOUTS AND TANKS
Water spout located at end of platform. Two elevated steel water tanks located within yard. One tank relocated from Hornsby in 2008.

LANDSCAPING
The place features extensive landscaped gardens with ampitheatre, forecourt, picnic and playground facilities.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The site and its structures are in very good condition.
Date condition updated:12 Mar 10
Modifications and dates: 1909 Platform extended
1987 Station awning blown away in a violent storm
1988 Loopline closed and the station repaired
2009 New roundhouse display facilities. Removal of yard sheds.
2010 Constuction of exhibition hall, upgrade of display hall and landscaping works
2011 Official opening of 'Trainworks'
Further information: Significant movable items at Thirlmere are listed separately on the RailCorp S170 Heritage and Conservation Register.
Current use: Railway Station
Former use: Nil

History

Historical notes: Following the completion of the first railway from Sydney to Parramatta Junction in 1855, proposals for the first railways to the rest of NSW were driven by landed interests seeking improved transport for their wool from the inland centres of Goulburn, Bathurst, Singleton and Muswellbrook. When John Whitton arrived in Sydney in December 1856 to take up his position as Engineer-in-Chief of the NSW Railways, “he understood his job was to plan the extensions which would take the infant railway into the interior of Australia. At that time only the railway from Sydney to Liverpool was open, just twenty-one miles (34km) in length” (Lee, 2000, p98).

The line from Liverpool to Campbelltown was one of the first sections of line completed by Whitton in 1862. The line was extended to Picton in 1863 and was extended to Mittagong via a large loop line in 1867.

Originally known as Redbank, the station at Thirlmere was opened on 1st August 1883. The original platform was of stone. The original station consisted of a “platform, two fettler’s cottages, a small goods shed and a siding”. The name changed to Thirlmere on 1st August 1886.

Thirlmere Railway Station served as part of the main line for the next 36 years. Its function was important in the transportation of both passengers and goods. The station also played an important part in the popularity of the Thirlmere lakes district as a picnic and tourist destination in the late 1800s (Bailey, pp11-41).

Between 1883 and 1885 an office from Hill Top was transported to Thirlmere and was used by the Porter (ARHS Bulletin, p57). In 1883 the station gained crossing loops and in 1891 a new platform was added opposite to the original, a Station Master’s residence was constructed, and an ‘out of’ goods shed relocated from Katoomba was rebuilt at the precinct. In 1902 an out of room and lamp room were provided, and in 1904 the goods shed was enlarged and the loop line extended (Forsyth, 2009).

The line from Picton to Mittagong was considered a steep gradient challenging for locomotives which in 1919 resulted in the deviation of the Great Southern Railway from Picton to ease the grades. The new line virtually follows the line of the Great South Road taking the main line away from Thirlmere, Buxton, Balmoral and Hilltop and passing through Tahmoor, Bargo and Yerrinbool built on a shallower grade. This left the Thirlmere section as a loop line which continued as a goods yard for the transport of produce to and from the surrounding area.

Shortly after the deviation of the railway line, Thirlmere’s second platform and signals were removed due to a substantial reduction in rail traffic. Throughout the mid part of the 20th century Thirlmere station played an important part in the development and survival of the town of Thirlmere itself, with local industries relying upon rail for the delivery of goods and the collection of local produce. Thirlmere being the largest poultry-producing region in NSW based around Estonian immigrants who moved to the area, relied on regular deliveries of feed to the station. The Thirlmere Farmers Co-operative building still stands on the site. Many industries, namely the timber industry, made great use of the station, with timber eventually being milled directly at the station prior to despatch (CMP, p14).

In 1960 steam trains gave way to motors, and the importance of the station as a functional part of NSW rail gradually diminished until rail motor ceased in 1975. The station was handed over to the NSW Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM) in the same year, which relocated its facilities from the Enfield Roundhouse to Thirlmere track siding, and opened the Thirlmere Rail Heritage Centre. Buildings currently to the south of the site, the rolling stock and other equipment, have been introduced to the site by the museum. In 1976 the tourist railway commenced operation, with access to the main line via Mittagong remaining closed (CMP, p14).

With the main station building in a state of disrepair and the awning removed during a violent storm in late 1987, work to repair the station was commenced in 1988, with the station precinct officially reopening in 1989 (CMP, p15).

In 2009, the first stages of a major upgrade for the site commenced with the opening on November 9 of the new roundhouse. The roundhouse will assist in the restoration, operation and maintenance of the State significant heritage locomotives stored on site. The new exhibition building opened to the public on April 3, 2011 completing the two-year project to upgrade the site, officially opened as 'Trainworks'.

Trainworks is a showcase of the most comprehensive interpretive display of railway history in Australia featuring heritage train rides, interactive exhibitions and displays, guided tours and hands on exhibits. The upgrade allows many items to be displayed to the public for the first time. The upgrade provides opportunities for the display and ongoing care of part of RailCorp’s valuable heritage assets, with objects important to the history of rail in New South Wales now available for display and interpretation to the public for research and educational use. The upgrade will also ensure the state’s most significant movable heritage items are protected and stored appropriately to ensure their long-term conservation.

Trainworks Limited, is the new not-for-profit company responsible for promoting this new attraction and delivering the visitor experience. The NSW Rail Transport Museum also offer heritage train rides on the Picton – Mittagong loop line as part of the Trainworks experience, with volunteers from RTM integral to its success. The continued operational use and care by custodian groups in this way greatly contributes to their significance and is essential for their ongoing conservation.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Signalling and safe working-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Customer information systems-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods Railway workshops-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Transporting coal and minerals-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Building the railway network-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Maintaining the railway network-
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 Transport of goods-
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 Making railway journeys-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Servicing and accommodating railway employees-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creation of railway towns-
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 Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Railway tourism-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Railway celebrations and commemorations-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The place has historical significance as it provides evidence of the pattern of early settlement and development in the area, having served as an important transport facility since the early 1880s as a major steam baiting and locomotive storage depot on the Great Southern Line before it was re-routed between Picton and Mittagong in 1919.

The station buildings on site provide tangible evidence of a typical small railway precinct in a regional area. The location of the former Station Master’s Residence adjacent to the station demonstrates the past custom of providing accommodation for railway staff. The site also features many other introduced elements, following the arrival of the Rail Transport Museum in the 1970s. As such, the extant structures on site, although some not original, provide insight into a myriad of historical railway themes, particularly the relocation of many elements from the former Enfield Marshalling Yards such as the turntable, providing evidence of the large scale infrastructure associated with a major urban depot site.

The extant buildings Co-op Shed building has strong associations with the historical period of chicken farming in the local area following the wave of Estonian immigration in the area post WWII.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The station building and residence are good representative examples of simple railway buildings from the late Victorian period that were provided at many country locations, this significance being enhanced by the degree to which the building group has retained much of its original character, fabric and features including the original stone platforms. The small goods shed, and relocated signal box also complement the setting of the original buildings and make an important contribution to the historic character of the town. The setting of the station is further enhanced by the large-scale industrial character of the yard and museum area, and associated infrastructure.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The place 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.

The place has special associations with the staff and volunteers of the NSW Rail Transport Museum who continue to be instrumental in the on-going conservation and interpretation of the site.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The place is significant as a major centre for rail heritage preservation in the area associated with the adjacent 'Trainworks' which has educational significance today as a rail museum and tourist attraction and is an important centre for railway enthusiasts in the Sydney region. The place is of significance as a major centre for the conservation and preservation of rail heritage in the area and NSW.

The extant facilities provide evidence of the steam locomotive engine services on the Great Southern Railway and have educational significance as a rail museum
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The site has representative significance for its collection of railway structures 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 many other railway sites across the state.

The station buildings, residence and goods shed are good representative examples of simple railways buildings from the late 19th and early 20th century that were provided at many country locations, this significance being enhanced by the degree to which the building group has retained much of its original character, fabric and features.
Integrity/Intactness: The station buildings have 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.

Listings

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 Study1999SRA299State Rail Authority  No
Heritage and Conservation Register State Rail Authority of NSW1993317Paul 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
WrittenForsyth, J.H2009NSW Railway Stations - An Alphabetical Arrangement of Railway Station and Place Names
WrittenMcKillop, R2009NSW Railways (RailCorp) Thematic History
WrittenRobert Lee2000Colonial Engineer

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: 4801299


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