Unanderra Station Masters Residence | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Unanderra Station Masters Residence

Item details

Name of item: Unanderra Station Masters Residence
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: 111 Princes Highway - Rear Of, Unanderra, NSW 2526
Local govt. area: Wollongong City


The curtilage is defined as the fenced property boundaries around the residence on all sides.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
111 Princes Highway - Rear OfUnanderraWollongong City  Primary Address
Central Road - Continuation OfUnanderraWollongong City  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Unanderra Station Master's residence is of local heritage significance. It is historically significant in demonstrating the railway practice of providing accommodation to employees at a time when railway stations were required to be attended on-call 24 hours a day. The 1887 residence at Unanderra is an example of this common 19th century railway practice. The residence is located at the former location of a level crossing as it was first used as a Gatekeeper's residence and this is reflected in the building's design, which is typical of the NSW Railways designs for such residences built prior to 1888, known as "Whitton's Gatekeeper's Cottages". The building is representative of this distinctive style as well as having historical association with the Whitton period of railway administration (1856-1889). The residence is of aesthetic significance as a vernacular Victorian Georgian style building.
Date significance updated: 26 Jun 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. Government Railway
Builder/Maker: Office of John Whitton Engineer in Chief NSW Railways 1856-1889
Construction years: 1887-1887
Physical description: PRECINCT ELEMENTS
Station Masters Residence (1887) (Type 3)
Fencing, cyclone wire and timber paling (modern)

The residence is located on the north-western side of Unanderra Railway Station, to the rear (southeast) of 111 Princes Highway, on an unnamed dead-end section of road which appears to be an extension of Central Road, Unanderra, and runs off the Princes Highway. The residence is located just southwest of the north-western entry to the Unanderra Railway Station’s pedestrian overbridge. The house is isolated within a cyclone wire and timber paling fenced, locked enclosure and is currently disused (February 2009).

Exterior: The residence is a freestanding painted brick house, in vernacular Victorian Georgian style with a symmetrical façade with a central doorway flanked by windows either side. The residence is single storey with a hipped corrugated steel main roof with a distinctive corbelled central chimney of painted brick. There is a hipped corrugated steel roof to the front veranda, which is carried on 4 timber posts and has a modern concrete floor. There is a rear skillion roofed section with a second kitchen chimney. Eaves are timber boarded with openable vents. There is a skillion roofed rear section and rear veranda, and a gable roofed weatherboard addition to the rear south-western corner of the house.

Windows and door openings are covered over externally, however windows have rendered projecting reveals and are generally timber framed double hung with either 9 paned sashes or 2 pane sashes (note: 2 paned sashes appear original). The front door (covered over externally) is a timber 4 panelled door with fanlight and a timber threshold.

Internal: There is no central hallway in the internal plan, unusual for a house of this period, and the front room features a blind arch where a hallway would be expected. There is a modern timber floor to the front rooms and masonite flooring to rear rooms. Doors are generally timber 4 panel doors. Fireplaces are blocked up. Most ceilings are modern, and original lath and plaster ceilings show water damage.

The site is largely grassed, there are no trees, and one shrub (unknown species) against the north-western perimeter fence, in front of the residence.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Exterior: Moderate condition
Interior: Moderate condition
Date condition updated:04 May 09
Modifications and dates: c. 1970s: kitchen/bathroom fitout
N.d: Gable roofed weatherboard addition to rear western corner. Tie rods are evident. Most window sashes not original. Modern concrete floor to front veranda. Some modern ceilings. Fireplaces blocked up or removed. Modern cyclone wire fencing, paling fencing.
Current use: Disused
Former use: Former Station Masters Residence; former Gatekeeper's Residence


Historical notes: Unanderra is situated on part of the "Berkeley Estate" which was granted to Mrs Jemima Jenkins in 1835-36. Unanderra was originally called Charcoal or Charcoal Creek. From 7 April 1881 Charcoal Creek became Unanderra, an Aboriginal word meaning the "meeting place of creeks" or the "junction of the two creeks". The two creeks were Charcoal and Allan's Creeks. The original form of the name is thought to have been Unundurra or Un-dirra. The village of Charcoal or Charcoal Creek was situated on 280 acres of land acquired by Mrs Jemima Jenkins in 1835-6.

Unanderra Station was built in 1887 as part of the Illawarra and South Coast Railway single line extension from (old) Stanwell Park to Albion Park (Yallah) which at that time was still an isolated line. In 1888 it was connected with Sydney and the line terminated at Bombo (North Kiama).

The 1887 Station Master’s residence was a brick standard Gatekeeper’s cottage and it was used by Gatekeeper's for the level crossing (since removed). The building is of a type built by the NSW Railways prior to 1888 known as "Whitton’s Gatekeeper’s cottages" (due to association with John Whitton, Engineer-in-Chief of NSW Railways from March 1856 till May 1889). These are small square buildings originally with four rooms usually built in brick (also timber) with a front veranda, hipped roof, and a central chimney at the apex of the roof.

The Unanderra Station Master's building retains its original form except for a small weatherboard rear addition, and was renovated in 2001 but to date has remained unoccupied.

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 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-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Unanderra Station Master's residence is of historical significance as it demonstrates the railway practice of providing accommodation to employees at a time when railway stations were required to be attended on-call 24 hours a day. The 1887 residence at Unanderra is an example of this common 19th century railway practice.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The residence design is known as "Whitton's Gatekeeper's cottage" and is associated with the Whitton period of railway administration, when John Whitton was Engineer-in-Chief of NSW Railways (1856-1889).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The residence is of aesthetic significance as a vernacular Victorian Georgian design, purpose-built for accommodation of railway staff, and distinctive for its central chimney.
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 f)
The residence is rare as one of the only of Whitton's Gatekepper's cottages remaiing in RailCorp ownership. (Its noted there are other examples on the line in private ownership at Bellambi and Heathcote).
SHR Criteria g)
The residence is representative of a pre-1888 gate keepers residence, being of the usual design used for such buildings at this time.
Integrity/Intactness: Relatively intact externally, despite a few alterations, the building still demonstrates its history.
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 registerSRA s.170 Register    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA939State Rail Authority  No
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
Written  Brief locality history on www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/library/localhistory.asp
WrittenC.C Singleton1946The Illawarra Line: Wollongong to Bombo, A.R.H.S. Bulletin Vol. XIII, No 106, August
WrittenDavid Sheedy2009Historical Research for RailCorp S170 Register Update
WrittenDavid Sheedy Pty. Ltd2000Conservation Assessment of the Unanderra Station Master’s Residence
WrittenOffice of Rail Heritage (ORH),2009Railway Residences, Summary Report Prepared for S170 Update Project,

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: 4801939

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