Riverwood Railway Station Group | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Riverwood Railway Station Group

Item details

Name of item: Riverwood Railway Station Group
Other name/s: Herne Bay Railway Station (Until 1958)
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Phillip Street, Riverwood, NSW 2210
Local govt. area: Canterbury


North: the boundary of RailCorp property fronting William Road and Morotai Avenue; East: 5m east of the end of the platform (excluding the Belmore Road overbridge); South: the boundary of RailCorp property fronting Thurlow Street and the north boundaries of properties fronting Belmore Road and Webb St; West: 5m west of the end of the platform.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Phillip StreetRiverwoodCanterbury  Primary Address
Thurlow StreetRiverwoodCanterbury  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Riverwood Railway Station - including the 1931 platform and platform building - is of local heritage significance. Riverwood Railway Station has historical significance as a major public work completed as an unemployment relief project during the Great Depression, as a major transport hub for the suburb of Riverwood (previously known as Herne Bay) since 1931, and for its relationship with the development of the area, including the Herne Bay Military Hospital (1943-1945); the Herne Bay Housing Commission Settlement (1946-early 1950s) and the subsequent development of public housing in the area during the 1950s. Riverwood Railway Station platform building is of aesthetic significance as an austere 1930s railway building with simple Art Deco detailing and fine brick workmanship that is evocative of the effects of the Depression on building programs for large organisations such as the NSW Railways. Riverwood Railway Station is representative of the cohesive collection of 10 East Hills line railway stations from Turrella to East Hills, and the 1931 platform building is notable for its original interior and original awning ceilings.
Date significance updated: 03 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: N.S.W. Department of Railways
Builder/Maker: N.S.W. Department of Railways
Construction years: 1925-1931
Physical description: PRECINCT ELEMENTS
Platform Building (1931) (Type 13)
Island Platform (1931)
Footbridge, lifts (2004)
Platform Canopies (2003)

Riverwood Railway Station is entered via modern entry stairs off a footbridge and road overbridge from Phillip Street at the eastern end of the station, or from Thurlow Street to the south of the station.

Exterior: A rectangular dark face brick platform building of standard stretcher bond brickwork, of 6 bays length (note: most platform buildings on this line are 5 bays), with the bays defined by simple brick engaged piers. The building has brick stepped parapets at east and west ends. The roof is gabled at east and west ends against the parapets, and is hipped over awnings to north and south which are an integral part of the roof form. Roof cladding is metal tiling. The stepped parapets each feature a projecting moulded brick capping course, 3 vertical lines of projecting decorative brickwork, and pairs of rectangular timber louvred vents. Original windows are timber-framed double-hung, some with original 6-paned top sashes (there are 4 of these extant); or small timber framed windows with frameless glass or glass louvres (there are 6 of these extant). Original window openings feature bullnose brick sills and both window and door openings stop chamfered brickwork. Doorways originally had grey terrazzo thresholds, however none of these are extant. All doors are modern timber flush doors. There is an aluminium framed glazed panel to the ticket window at the entry end of the platform.

Interior: The building originally comprised a combined booking/parcels office (now also the Station Master's room), ladies toilets, waiting room and men's toilets. Interior altered 2002 including replacement of all original ceilings and toilet fitouts.

1 convex island platform, asphalt surfaces, original brick edges. Stepped brick coping.

There is a modern gabled corrugated steel roofed canopy extending from the entry steps to the platform to the east end of the 1931 platform building. There is also a modern platform canopy with Colorbond roofing carried on steel posts with concrete bases to the west end of the platform.

The pedestrian footbridge is a modern concrete structure which includes 3 shops, lift and stairs to platform.

NSW Railway heritage listed sites contain significant collections of stored movable railway heritage, including furniture, signs, operational objects, ex-booking office and ticketing objects, paper records, clocks, memorabilia, indicator boards and artwork. Individually, these objects are important components of the history of each site. Together, they form a large and diverse collection of movable objects across the NSW rail network. Sydney Trains maintains a database of movable heritage. For up-to-date information on all movable heritage items at this site, contact the Sydney Trains heritage team.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Platform Building (1931): good condition.
Platform (1931): good condition.
Footbridge, lifts (2004): very good condition.
Platform Canopies (2003): very good condition
Belmore Road Overbridge (1931, 2004): good condition.
Date condition updated:03 Jul 09
Modifications and dates: 1948: line duplicated.
2002: internal fitout to platform building altered, including replacement of all existing ceilings and toilet fitouts.
2004: new footbridge and lifts, stairs and platform canopies, and overbridge widened.
N.d: alterations to the 1931 platform building: window alterations to ticket office, including ticket window, replacement of original roofing with metal tiling; replacement of original grey terrazzo door thresholds with either concrete or tiles.
2010: Canopy upgrade, new canopy over the island platform on the western side of the platform building, replacing the existing shelter structure.
Further information: Note: The building to the southeast of the station building is half on RailCorp land and half in the road reserve. An agreement with Council has been established regarding the management of this building.
Current use: Railway Station
Former use: Nil


Historical notes: Riverwood Railway Station was originally known as Herne Bay Railway Station, with the name changing in 1958. In the early 19th century the area was comprised of small land grants of 30 to 80 acres. The Herne Bay Estate subdivision occurred in 1919, however development of the area was slow until the coming of the railway line.

The main impetus for the construction of the East Hills line was from the real estate industry, which wanted to develop the area where the line was proposed. However construction of the line was delayed, and it became an unemployment relief project during the course of its construction due to the onset of the Great Depression.

"The Public Works Committee recommended the line to State Parliament in August, 1924, expecting a small operating profit and opening up good building land. The debate on the Bill to construct the line took only 15 minutes after it was introduced at 5.12am on 17 December 1924, and the Governors assent given on 23 December, but no funds were provided. Just before the State elections in 1927, the Premier, Jack Lang, performed the 'Turning of the First Sod' ceremony at Padstow on 3rd September 1927, but he lost the election. However, the new non-labour government in April, 1928, instructed the Railways Commissioners to commence work on the line." (from www.canterbury.nsw.gov.au).

Jack Lang was Premier for two periods: the first from June 1925 to October 1927, the second period (during the Depression) from October 1930 to May 1932. Jack Lang was therefore again Premier when he officially opened the East Hills line at Padstow Railway Station in 1931, with the section as far as Kingsgrove being a double track electrified line.

All platform buildings on the East Hills line were built to the same general design and plan, which was revised after initial planning to include a booking office, Station Master’s office and parcels office.

"The largest military hospital in Australia was located here [at Herne Bay] during World War II. It was planned as a hospital centre of five hospitals totalling 4250 beds in 490 barracks-type buildings. It was built by the Australian Government under Reverse Lend-Lease for the 118th General Hospital, US Army, which was formed by doctors and nurses from John Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland...The new hospital, which had full medical facilities, was occupied by the 118th General Hospital from May 1943, and by November the daily patient census was 1700. The 118th vacated the hospital in October 1944, and moved north for the invasion of the Philippines. A Royal Navy Hospital occupied many of the buildings in January 1945, and Australian Army Hospitals used other sections. " (www.canterbury.nsw.gov.au/www/html/785-heritage-panel-8-us-army-hospital-herne-bay-1943.asp). "

After World War II the site [of the naval hospital] passed to the NSW Housing Commission and the huts were used to ease the post-war housing shortage. Two or three families were housed in each hut and this led to social problems and the area of Herne Bay gained an unsavoury reputation." (from www.canterbury.nsw.gov.au/www/html/871-history-of-riverwood-.asp). The reputation of the Herne Bay area is evidenced by numerous newspaper reports during the period 1946-1950s of crimes committed by Herne Bay residents, including an armed hold-up at Herne Bay Railway Station in 1952 (The Canberra Times, 4 August 1952, page 3), and reports of crowded conditions at the Housing Settlement causing disease, including a measles outbreak affecting 200 children in December 1947 (reported in The Canberra Times, 16 December 1947, page 2). In response to these social problems, "During the 1950's the Housing Commission began demolishing the huts [at the Herne Bay Housing Settlement] and building high and medium density housing complexes. New streets were built in the area and were named after United States presidents, cities and states to commemorate the United States wartime presence in the area. Agitation from business people and residents resulted in a campaign to change the name. A "Change of Name Competition" was held and during 1958 the suburb of Herne Bay became Riverwood." (www.canterbury.nsw.gov.au/www/html/871-history-of-riverwood-.asp)

The line was electrified from Kingsgrove in 1939, duplicated in 1948, and in 1987 the East Hills terminus was connected to the Main Southern Line at Glenfield Junction.

Although the original terminus building at East Hills Station was demolished in 1987, the remainder of the East Hills Line from Turrella to Panania is the only line in Sydney with all platform buildings extant from its original construction phase (though some have been altered).

In 2004 a new concrete and steel structure gave access from the overbridge and new lifts, stairs and canopies connected up with the platform building.

Construction work is currently underway (2009) to upgrade the East Hills line generally following quadruplification of the line.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Impacts of railways on urban form-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Riverwood Railway Station (known as Herne Bay until 1958) is of historical significance as part of the East Hills line, a major Depression period public work undertaken under the controversial Premiership of Jack Lang, and through its relationship to the development of the suburb of Herne Bay/Riverwood, and the broader East Hills region. Riverwood Railway Station was integral to the history of the area, the railway station servicing Australia's largest military hospital, the Herne Bay Military Hospital (1943-1945), a US Army military hospital, which subsequently became the Herne Bay Housing Commission Settlement, (1946-early 1950s), replaced in the 1950s with the development of new public housing.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Riverwood Railway Station is of aesthetic significance as an example of a small Inter-War period suburban railway building matching other East Hills line railway station buildings in design and style. The building is very austere in style, with Inter-War Art Deco style touches (for example brick strapwork detail to parapets) and is competently executed, exhibiting fine workmanship in its brickwork. The building is noted for its use of monochromatic brickwork, stepped parapets, irregular fenestration and engaged piers.
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 history.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Riverwood Railway Station is of research significance for its ability to demonstrate design and construction techniques of the Inter-War period. The building provides insights into NSW Railways experimentation with styles of architecture and adaptation to Depression period economic conditions.
SHR Criteria f)
Riverwood Railway Station platform building is not rare, as it is part of a cohesive group of 10 similar to identical Inter-War suburban railway buildings completed in 1931 between Turrella and East Hills.
SHR Criteria g)
Riverwood Railway Station is a good representative example of the cohesive collection of East Hills line railway stations, with the 1931 platform building moderately intact externally.
Integrity/Intactness: Riverwood station and platform building has retained a moderate degree of integrity externally. The station as a whole has been altered via introduction of modern platform access structures.
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 Study1999SRA930/SRA931State Rail Authority  No
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAndrea Humphreys and Donald Ellsmore2002Inter-War Station Buildings
WrittenDavid Sheedy2009Historical Research for RailCorp S170 Register Update
WrittenFrances Pollon (compiler, editor)1996The Book of Sydney Suburbs
Writtenwww.canterbury.nsw.gov.au/www/html/871-history-of-riverwood-.asp A history of Riverwood

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: 4801930

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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