Thornton Railway Station | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Thornton Railway Station

Item details

Name of item: Thornton Railway Station
Other name/s: Woodford
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Karuah Street, Thornton, NSW 2322
Local govt. area: Maitland


RailCorp property boundaries as shown on vesting plan, RN29809. 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
Karuah StreetThorntonMaitland  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Thornton Railway Station is of local significance consisting of two large, early 20th century station buildings of a standard NSW railways design that provide a prominent civic centre for the local community. With Thornton Station relocated to the current site in 1913 due to duplication of the line, the place continues to provide a tangible link to almost 100 years of railway activity at the current site and demonstrates the development of the Main North line. The scale of facilities built at the new site reflects the importance of Thornton as a railway location along the GNR.
Date significance updated: 11 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.


Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES
Station Building - Up and Down platform - type 11 (1913)
S.E.C building (modern; mid to late 20th century)
Out-of shed (c1913)
Platforms, brick faced (1913)
Footbridge (2001)

The station buildings located on the Up and Down platforms were designed and constructed identically as type 11 station buildings. Modern photographs indicate that the buildings survive relatively intact and unaltered. The buildings are constructed of dichromatic brick in Flemish bond and have gabled roofs clad in colourbond steel. The roofs feature chimneys with double, terra cotta pots. The platforms are covered by cast iron, cantilevered awnings supported by cement corbels and finished with timber valances. The buildings are decorated by a dentil course of string mouldings that run between and over the top of openings. The windows are timber, double hung sash with upper sashes that have a 3x3 pane arrangement. The doors are timber with moulded panels.

The S.E.C building is constructed of brick in stretcher bond with a gabled roof clad in colour bond steel.

OUT-OF SHED (c1913)
The out-of shed is a small building constructed of dichromatic brick in Flemish bond. The roof is gabled and clad in colourbond steel. The building has a similar architectural aesthetic as the station buildings including the dentil course of string mouldings. There are two timber sliding doors on either side of the building.

Straight side platforms of brick with asphalt surface, coping has been raised in concrete.

The footbridge provides Easy Access to the platforms with lift as well as stairwells. The construction is hot dipped steel with colourbond steel roofing. Excluded from listing.

Platform 1 building
Fitted timber ticket desk with return in office, largely original and modified in 2002
Cast iron safe under desk.
Original sash catch/lock on window.
Timber-framed mirrors and noticeboards in office and bathrooms.
Waiting room – fitted timber benches in waiting room with blocked up fireplace with timber-framed concrete hearth, no grate or surround.
Ladies – 1950s timber framed partitions and doors (significant later fabric ) and floor tiling. Timber-framed mirror in women’s toilet.
In storage - Timber trolley with “Thornton” in painted letters, concealed concrete cisterns “Tylors” c 1950s still in use, galvanised urn/samovar.
Plaque – memorial for William Henry Pearce

Platform 2 building
Unused, in highly intact original condition and in need of sensitive restoration. Damaged plaster on walls, broken windows etc. Ripple iron ceilings with metal ceiling rosettes, early ceiling light attachments, waratah plaster vents, timber windows with multi-pane coloured glazing in upper sash, bathrooms and storerooms have original fixed louvres (missing glass). Several examples of plaster dada mouldings. Remnants of original timber waiting room fitted benches and skirtings etc. Many windows covered due to vandalism and existing damage. Timber flooring in many rooms. Ladies in original condition with timber cubicle partitions and four-panelled Victorian doors with locks and handles, many instances of original paint and colours schemes on joinery and walls – pale green, tan, brown, red oxide, and creams. Loose cast iron fire grate.

Small section of rail-track fencing behind Platform 2.
Evidence of former 1911 footbridge, since demolished.
Two galvanised farm gates.
Reproduction light posts on Platform 1; possibly early lamp posts on Platform 2.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:12 Oct 09
Modifications and dates: 1908 - refuge siding opened.
1915 - new lamp room built to replace the building destroyed.
Current use: Railway Station
Former use: Nil


Historical notes: Thornton railway precinct is located on the Main North line, running from Sydney and extending north to the Queensland border, at the town of Wallangarra. The Main North Line (also known as the Great Northern Railway) runs through the Central Coast, Hunter and the New England regions. The line was the original main line between Sydney and Brisbane, however this required a change of gauge at Wallangarra. The line is now closed north of Armidale, and the main route between Brisbane and Sydney is now the North Coast line.

The single line from Islington Junction to East Maitland opened on 30 March 1857. The construction contract for the Hamilton Junction to Victoria Street section was awarded to William Wright on 21 August 1855. The line was duplicated from Tarro to Thornton in 1880, and quadruplicated from Tarro to Metford on 10 February 1913.

Thornton station was originally opened as Woodford, on 1 August 1871 (platform mentioned in the Sydney Morning Herald of 1869), and later renamed Thornton in 1887 before being relocated to a new site on 10 February 1913 (Forsyth, 2009). The earliest record of a Station Master is Mr J Tobin in 1891 (Taylor, 1963).

The 1913 station consisted of two platforms with identical, type 11 station buildings, with access between platforms available via an overbridge. The type 11 station building design represents the standard plans that were introduced from the 1900s and reissued again in 1913. 167 type 11 station buildings were planned in NSW with 89 extant in Metropolitan locations in 2009. Most examples date from 1910/20s although some earlier examples exist dating from as early as 1887 which formed the basis for the standard design. The Thornton station buildings were made of brick with corrugated iron roofing that extended out into a platform awning. Internally, the buildings comprised of a booking office, general waiting room, ladies waiting room, and ladies and men’s toilets separated by a storeroom. From modern photographs, the original station buildings appear to have survived in near-original condition, although both buildings appear to have been re-roofed in colorbond steel at some point in their history.

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-
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]
The Thornton railway precinct is significant for its historical values as a tangible link to the development of the Great Northern Railway (GNR) line during the 19th century as well as the development of the NSW railways. The GNR was an important achievement in transport and engineering within NSW. As the third main trunk rail route in NSW stretching from Sydney to the Queensland border, the line linked townships to one another as well as to Sydney leading to significant economic and social impacts for those individual townships as well as for NSW generally. The development of the NSW railways is illustrated at Thornton historically through the relocation of the original site to the current site in c1913 as result of duplication of the line. The scale of facilities built at the new site reflects the importance of Thornton as a railway location along the GNR.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Thornton railway precinct has aesthetic values exhibiting two large, brick station buildings and an out-of shed featuring dichromatic and bonded brickwork and neat decorative detailing such as string moulded dentil courses.
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 g)
The station buildings are representative of a series of standard designs introduced in the 1900s and constructed in many other locations across NSW. The site has representative significance for its collection of railway structures demonstrating widespread 19th and early 20th Century railway customs, activities and design in NSW.
Integrity/Intactness: The station buildings have a good 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 Study1999SRA938State Rail Authority  No
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 ORH  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCottee, J.M.2004Stations on the track: selected New South Wales country railway stations: an historical overview
WrittenEnid Taylor1963Thornton from the beginning
WrittenForsyth, J.H2009NSW Railway Stations - An Alphabetical Arrangement of Railway Station and Place Names
WrittenMcKillop, R2009NSW Railways (RailCorp) Thematic History

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: 4801938

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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