Bowenfels Railway Station Group and Residence | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Bowenfels Railway Station Group and Residence

Item details

Name of item: Bowenfels Railway Station Group and Residence
Other name/s: Greater Lithgow Visitors Information Centre
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: 1-31 Cooerwull Road, Bowenfels, NSW 2790
Parish: Lett
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Lithgow


Northern: northern fence of residence extending across tracks; Southern: 50m from platform building; Western: RailCorp property boundary to Cooerwull Road; Eastern: RailCorp property boundary fronting the western property boundary of 74 Geordie St.Note: The State Heritage Register listing boundary varies to the S170 Listing Boundary (see SHR plan). The Gatekeeper's residence (not part of the listing) is also privately owned but remains on RailCorp land and forms an important visual link to the station and Station Master's residence.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1-31 Cooerwull RoadBowenfelsLithgowLettCookPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Bowenfels station and residence is of state significance as the earliest railway station beyond the Blue Mountains and remaining in use with minimal alteration for 105 years. The quality of the stonework and Victorian Rustic Gothic design of the buildings are of aesthetic significance. It is one of the best surviving stone station groups with intact early buildings that represent the first major phase of railway construction over the Blue Mountains during the 1860s and 1870s. The Station Master's residence is an unusual railway structure exhibiting excellent design as does the station building with intact slate roofs and original detailing. Bowenfels railway station is of historical significance for its role in the development of the Bowenfels area paving the way for the exploitation of local coal reserves, which lead to the development of Lithgow as a mining and industrial centre.
Date significance updated: 07 Jul 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: John Clifton, NSW Government Railway
Builder/Maker: G Watsford, NSW Government Railway
Construction years: 1869-1869
Physical description: BUILDINGS
Station building - type 3, stone, second class station building (1869)
- Station Master's, type 1, stone (1869)
- Gatekeeper's, type 1, stone (1869 - privately owned but on RailCorp land)

Platform - stone faced (1869, modified 1891, 1922)

Exterior: A stone, second class station building in rectangular symmetrical form. The Bowenfels Station building is constructed of coursed, random stone. Quoins are emphasised by large blocks of stone and reveals are stuccoed, while there are smooth cornice and eave mouldings. The central section of the station building is flanked at either end by wings with parapets concealing low pitched corrugated iron roofs behind. The roof to the central section is hipped and clad with slate. Of four extant chimneys one retains its terracotta pot. A verandah to the central section has a low pitched iron roof supported on decorative timber posts with brackets. All joinery is timber framed including four panel doors and box frames of both single and double pane type windows.

Interior: The former station building is now used by COC Limited for office purposes. The building retains original layout with majority of its finishes modified or altered. Most of the fireplaces and their timber surrounds, slate hearths and cast iron grates survive. The fireplace in the former parcels office has been blocked but the slate hearth remains visible. The overall features include plaster ceilings with no cornices, timber architraves and four-panel doors (some removed), parquetry flooring, and modern kitchen and toilet fittings. The former porter’s and lamp room maintain original finishes with only a new floor addition and is used for storage. The corrugated metal ceiling is exposed.

Exterior: The former Station Master's Residence reflects the chief characteristics of Victorian Rustic Gothic style architecture, particularly the steeply pitched roof, prominent gables, elaborately traceried bargeboards, label moulds and textured masonry walling. The residence like the station building is also constructed of coursed, random stone and has an asymmetrical façade. The slate roof is steeply pitched with two round stone chimneys (in group of two) with corbelled tops and prominent gables. One gable has a cross shaped vent and another has a date plaque. A veranda over the entrance has an iron roof and is supported on timber posts with decorative brackets and stone floor. Windows, which are boarded, feature smooth dressed reveals and label moulds above.

Interior: The interior layout of the residence is generally discernable and remains in its original form, however, all internal finishes have been substantially modified or removed. Original elements include timber window and door architraves, moulded timber skirtings and stone chimney breasts with inappropriate pointing. All fireplace surrounds and doors have been removed or replaced. Floor finishes are generally carpet and tile flooring. There are no surviving original light or toilet/kitchen fittings.

Exterior: The land of the Gatekeeper’s residence is owned by RailCorp however; the residence is owned by a private entity. The residence is a simple version of the Station Master’s residence featuring the characteristics of Victorian Gothic Revival style architecture. Constructed of coursed, random stone, it features a cross floor plan with steeply pitched corrugated metal roof. Windows are narrow and tall double-hung with two-pane sashes. A skillion roofed wing is located to the rear. Excluded from listing.

PLATFORM (1869, modified 1891, 1922)
A stone platform with stone face, concrete edge and bitumen sealed surface runs along the front of the former Station Building.

Station sign and remnant timber fence within the garden.

Gravel carpark and grassed garden with small trees and shrubs. The site essentially benefits from the surrounding properties’ landscaping.

The site has high archaeological potential due to a number of remnant items scattered within the garden in particular around the former station sign including a raised platform and remnant sidings.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Station Building - Generally in very good condition with the exception of a store room at the Lithgow end of the Platform, which is in poor condition internally.

Station Master's Residence - Generally in moderate condition.

Gate Keeper's Residence - Generally in moderate condition.
Date condition updated:19 Jun 09
Modifications and dates: 27 Apr 1891: Station interlocked.
30 Apr 1891: New Up platform built, costing £291.
14 Jan 1922: Platforms lengthened.
17 Aug 1941: Gatehouse sold on Up side at distance 158.620km.
11 Aug 1975: Goods and stock sidings abolished.
21 Aug 1975: Stockyards removed.
N.d: Toilets - Fittings removed and replaced. Some changes to western end of building for change of use to tourist office.
2012: New security fence, repairs and minor demolition of later additions to SM's residence
Current use: Station - community offices; Residence - not occupied
Former use: Railway station and Station Masters residence


Historical notes: The village of Bowenfels forms an outer suburb of the industrial centre of Lithgow. The completion of the Zig Zag railway across the Blue Mountains with its western terminus at Bowenfels provided the impetus for the growth of the area and the industrial development that followed.

The single track main line through Bowenfels was opened in 1869 as part of the Sydney-Bathurst line which reached Bathurst in 1876. The line was constructed during the first major period of New South Wales railway building, 1854-88, and played a particularly significant role in the development of the Bowenfels area, paving the way for the exploitation of local coal reserves, thus leading to the development of Lithgow as a mining and industrial centre.

The station was opened on the 18th of October the same year as the line, constructed to designs by the railway engineer, John Clifton, with building works contracted to G Watsford. For 5 years it was the only station for Lithgow Valley and the railway line was single-track until the line was duplicated from Zig Zag Bottom Points to Bowenfels in 1880 and beyond Bowenfels to Middle River in 1921, by which latter date a second side platform was provided.

The platform stone building and stone Station Master’s residence were both erected for the line opening in 1869. The design of both accorded with the standard practice that was in vogue in the 1860s, though use of stone for NSW railway platform buildings, as well as on the stone-faced Bourke-bound platform, was rare and indicated the importance of the station at the time of construction.

Built on simple rectangular plan with verandah front and rear, the station included a ladies’ waiting room, main waiting room, ticket office and Station Master’s office. Housed in small rooms on either side were the luggage room and ladies’ washroom. The gentlemen’s toilet was a smaller room adjoining the ladies’ washroom. A fireplace positioned in each room catered for the comfort of passengers.

A Gatekeeper’s cottage was also built for the line opening in 1869 and is consistent with 12 or so other structures on the Blue Mountains line. The cottage is still extant and is privately owned, but the land is owned by RailCorp.

A skillion roofed, weatherboard clad signal box was erected at the station in 1919, and the Western line was electrified as far as Bowenfels in 1958. The signal box and a small barrel roofed outbuilding have since been removed.

The station remained in use until 1974 when passenger services ceased and the sidings to the Zig Zag were removed shortly after in 1975. During its years of use there were few major alterations to the building, though some original walls were penetrated to provide for internal access to rooms throughout the building that were otherwise only accessible through external entry ways. At some stage the fireplace in the parcels office section of the building has had its surround removed and the resulting hole blocked, apparently for the insertion of a stove flue, and there were modifications made to the toilets. The platform has been bitumen sealed, and the fencing replaced apart from a small section of rail timber picket fencing.

Works were undertaken at the station in 1994 to accommodate the Lithgow Visitors' Information Centre. This has included the replacement of the floor (due to water damage), a new slate roof, restoration to the sandstone chimneys, painting and repointing. The building is unoccupied in 2009.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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-
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 accomodating 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 Shaping inland settlements-
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]
Bowenfels Station and Residence over the Blue Mountains is of historical significance as part of the first major period of NSW railway construction that played a significant role in the development of the Bowenfels area paving the way for the exploitation of local coal reserves, which lead to the development of Lithgow as a mining and industrial centre.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The station and residence are of aesthetic significance with its fine stonework and Victorian Gothic Rustic elements contributing to the historic character of the area. The design of the Station Master's residence is unusual, and although accords with the standard practice that was in vouge in the 1860s, the use of stone was indicative of the Bowenfels Station's importance at the time of its construction.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The place has the potential to contribute to the local community's sense of place, and can provide a connection to the local community's past.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The group has research potential as part of the Great Western Railway including the Great Zig Zag demonstrating early technical and architectural qualities.
SHR Criteria f)
The Bowenfels Station and Residence is one of approximately 13 surviving railway groups from the earliest railway construction period (1850--1860s) in NSW. The buildings are rare due to their construction of stone, which indicates the importance of Bowenfels Station at the time of its construction.
SHR Criteria g)
The Bowenfels Station and Residence are representative of Victorian era railway station buildings and residences in NSW. Other examples include Emu Plains, Medlow Bath, Mt Victoria, Valley Heights, Springwood, and Wyong.
Integrity/Intactness: The buildings are intact externally and relatively intact internally. Overall integrity of the building group is high.
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 registerRailway Station and Stationmaster's House0047502 Apr 99 271546
Heritage studyBowenfels Railway Station Group 01 Jan 97   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA346State Rail Authority  No
Heritage and Conservation Register State Rail Authority of NSW1993174Paul Davies for SRA  No
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 City Plan Heritage  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1959Bull. Aust. Railway Hist. Soc. N.s. 10 no. 258, tourist leaflet
WrittenIan Jack and Graham Edds & Ass1998Greater Lithgow Heritage Study 1997- B101
WrittenR F Wylie and C C Singleton1959The Railway Crossing of the Blue Mountains,8, Bownfels to Wallerawang
WrittenSharp, S.A.1982The Railway Stations of NSW 1855-1980

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: 4801346

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