Wynyard Railway Station | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Wynyard Railway Station

Item details

Name of item: Wynyard Railway Station
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney


The physical limits of the underground structures generally and 5 metres beyond the end of the tunnel portals on each platform level and, where they exist, property boundaries to the interface with adjoining properties (does not include modern retail areas).
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
York StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Wynyard Station has local significance as one of a group of underground stations built as part of the city rail network during the 1920s and 1930s and as an essential linking station for both the City Circle and North Shore lines. As the busiest station on the city rail network, Wynyard Station is a vital component of the city's working infrastructure. It is associated with the works of JJC Bradfield, chief engineer for the city railway and Sydney Harbour Bridge construction and features prominent elements of both the practical and style designs of his original concept. Remnant tiles, stairway features and layout all reflect the original 1930s station. The York Street escalators are rare and surviving original / early elements. Exposed riveted steel I-beams on Platforms 3 and 4 have 'Dorman and Long' stamped on them, providing a direct connection to this major engineering firm.

Note: The entrance to the station at 19-31 York Street (Transport House) is listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR listing no.01271).
Wynyard Park is also listed as a heritage item, archaeological item and special area on the City of Sydney LEP.

Extract from the Statement of Significance for Wynyard Railway Station Escalators Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 (prepared by Significance International Feb 2016):
The bank of four escalators at Wynyard Railway Station are remarkable survivors of wooden-stepped escalators. Made in Sydney in 1955-57 by the Otis Elevator Company Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the US-based Otis Elevator Company, these escalators are an excellent example of the resourcefulness and capacity of the local engineering industry of the time. Their robust construction also manifests a design process and philosophy that was typical for its era, in reflecting no theoretical end to their functional life. Their design was based on a standard American Otis model of the time, adapted to the rigorous requirements of managing peak pedestrian traffic at the busiest point of Sydney's underground. Aesthetic significance may also be attributed to these escalators. Once installed, the bank-of-four escalators were presented in the ‘Streamline Moderne’ architectural style, expressed by sleek timber decking accented with aluminium trim between each set, the prominent curves of the newels and the repeated parallel lines. This helped to convey a sense of uniformity and modernity to the rail traveller.

Extract from the National Trust Statement of Significance for Interloop Artwork installed at Wynyard Station:
The artwork "Interloop" created by artist Chris Fox in the Wynyard Railway Station has historic significance as it incorporates a considerable proportion of the distinctive fabric of the Type 485A Otis elevators installed at Wynyard Railway Station in 1956/7 replacing the earlier L-Type Waygood-Otis escalators which commenced operation in July 1924, at which time they were the only set of escalators in Sydney and the second largest set of escalators in the world.
"Interloop" has high social significance as a clever and dramatic representation of the Wynyard escalators which had a special place in the hearts and minds of thousands of travelers who used them and for whom the escalators were reminiscent of a past era and whose replacement drew such a large and concerned public response.

"Interloop" has aesthetic significance for its impressive sculptural interpretation, hanging in mid-air above the travelling public and confirmed by its constant photographing by the public.
Date significance updated: 07 Aug 18
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: JJC Bradfield and the NSW Department of Public Works
Builder/Maker: NSW Department of Public Works
Construction years: 1927-1932
Physical description: UNDERGROUND STATION (1932)
Platforms (c1930)
Escalators and fire escape's
‘Interloop’ Artwork

Wynyard Station is a fully underground station accessed via pedestrian subways from George, Hunter, Margaret and Jamieson Streets and via a bank of four escalators from York Street level, located in the open ground-floor vestibule of Railway House.
The station consists of a public concourse area, a paid concourse area and four platforms in two groups of two above and two below the concourse.
As an operating railway station and retail mall, parts of Wynyard Railway Station have evolved and been adapted according to changes in technologies, fashions and usage. Current retail facades and commercial characteristics within the overall station such as the concourse layout are all elements of the operational character of the Station and their on-going evolution to meet current trends is part of their character and heritage value.

The concourse is divided into the public area, used to access the inner concourse or for through pedestrian traffic, and the paid concourse beyond the ticket barriers which provides access to the platforms. Within the public area, a stairway to the Hunter Connection pedestrian tunnel retains the original 1932 balustrades and banisters as seen inside the station. Ticket booths, station offices and small shops are located in the public area. Within the paid concourse area, stairs lead to both upper and lower platforms with 1932 balustrades and banisters in place. Static and electronic displays indicate train running times.

Platforms (c1930?)
Platforms 3 and 4 above the concourse are open island platforms with exposed I-beam riveted steel columns and beams. Some beams have Dorman and Long Co stamped on them. The platforms are surfaced with ceramic tiles and are accessed via stairs and a recently installed lift. The stairways retain original 1932 timber balustrades and ironwork banisters in blue. A small number of original timber doors to the small rooms beneath the staircases remain extant.

Platforms 5 and 6 are below the concourse and are also island platforms but brick with a tiled dividing wall down the centre and tile surface. The ceilings are curved reflecting the underground stations of the city circle line as at Museum and St James.

Escalators and Fire Escape's
A bank of four wooden escalators are present in a unique arrangement at the York Street entrance to the station. They date to the 1950s and were made by Otis Elevator Company Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the US-based parent company. They are the '48SA' type escalator. The escalators are encased in timber veneer paneling and have wooden treads and stainless steel side panels. Four large 1950s motors and large truss structure sits under the 'moderne' designed exterior.
Adjacent to the escalators and to the immediate south, two fire escape stairways retain the Station's original tiled colour scheme of cream tiles with decorative blue banding, though not all cream tiling is original.

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.

Key items at this station include but are not limited to:
A NSW Government Railways clock stamped ‘Wynyard’ is retained near ticket turnstiles.

The artwork "Interloop", by artist Chris Fox, repurposed steps from Wynyard Railway Station's 1956/7 escalators that had carried thousands of commuters to and from the station's main concourse. The original hardwood escalators at the York Street entrance dated back to 1931. The 1956/7 escalators were removed in 2017 to make way for an upgraded, compliant modern design. Weighing five tonnes and measuring 50 metres in length, the constructed artwork from the original escalators hangs suspended from steel beams installed above the base of the new escalators.

The project took six months of design and engineering, twelve weeks' fabrication and a tight 48-hour installation. A major milestone for Sydney Trains and for Transport for NSW, who commissioned the large-scale sculptural project, Interloop provides an important legacy, helping to maintain and celebrate the historic identity of the city, while also looking to its future.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good condition.
Date condition updated:05 Jun 09
Modifications and dates: c1950s: Fourth escalator ('No3') added to York Street bank and replacement of the original three to match.
1958: tram station removed and tunnels converted to carpark (c1964)
1977: new pedestrian subway via CBA building in Jamieson and Margaret streets
c1982: pedestrian throughway created through concourse with ticket barriers relocated to form north and south station entries
1988: new pedestrian subway via 1 Margaret Street
1994: new access via Wynyard Park to concourse
1995: pedestrian throughway removed and central paid concourse area reinstated.
2017: Historic Escalator removal and 'Interloop' Artwork installation
Current use: Railway Station
Former use: Nil


Historical notes: At the beginning of the twentieth century, congestion in the city and continued criticism of the railway terminus being at the southern end of the business district far from the harbour was gradually forcing the government into finding a solution to the city railway dilemma. The general consensus was that an electric underground system running through the city would be the best way to bring the increasing numbers of commuters into the city centre. In 1909, a royal commission into city improvements announced that, among other measures, the government must proceed with the city railway scheme and six years later Parliament passed an enabling Act for ‘the construction of eleven railways in the city and certain suburbs’.

The chief engineer appointed for the task of constructing the metropolitan railway was JJC Bradfield, who had advocated a city railway with links to the North Shore via a bridge since 1911. Bradfield’s plan included an underground loop line running from the new Central Station with five city stations (Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, St James and Museum) and two other lines being carried over the harbour to North Sydney.

Though the enabling Act was passed by the government in 1915, the intervention of the World War I meant work did not start in earnest until the early 1920s. The western side of the city underground line extended from Central Station towards the harbour, with work beginning on the excavations for Wynyard Station in 1927.

Wynyard Station was built using a cut-and-cover method, whereby much of Wynyard Park was excavated down to and through bedrock for the construction of the tunnels, platforms and associated structures. Wynyard Park had been created in the 1840s as a public park on the site of the former military barracks. The military barracks had been established in the 1790s and demolished after the military relocated to Paddington in 1836. The station was completed by early 1932 and opened on 19 March 1932 as part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge opening celebrations. Wynyard Park was reinstated over the new station after its completion, with the new Railway House (now Transport House), housing railway offices and administration also being built over the station fronting York Street.

Wynyard Station was built with six platforms, four being used for through tracks for the North Shore line and two for the city loop line. The station was allocated a specific colour scheme in keeping with the overall design principal of the underground system. As with the other stations, a main cream colour was used for the tiles but with a decorative blue band of tiles to distinguish Wynyard from the others on the City Circle line. These tiles were removed in an upgrade during the 1970s or 1980s but remain in two fire escape stairways near the escalators.

The station was accessed via a pedestrian subway from George Street, down a ramp flanked with shops or via a bank of three 1930s wooden escalators from York Street to the concourse level. A fourth escalator was added to the bank in c1950s and the original three were also replaced at that time. A large goods lift was also installed as part of the station development for access to loading docks and to the new hotel and shops being built above the station in Carrington Street.

From its opening, Wynyard was the busiest station on the city line, selling nearly 150% more tickets per year than Town Hall by 1939. In 1934, construction of Railway (now Transport) House commenced on the land above the York Street entrances to the station, being the administrative headquarters of the NSW Railways from 1936. Transport House was sold in 1999 and is no longer in railway ownership.

In 1958 the tram station at Wynyard was closed as trams were discontinued across the city network. The tram station was removed and the tunnels were converted to carparking areas.

New pedestrian access ways were introduced to the concourse areas in 1977, 1988 and 1994 as pedestrian flows to the station increased.

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-
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 or architecture-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Wynyard Station has historical significance as one of the principal Sydney railway stations and as an essential component of the City Circle and North Shore line developments of the 1920s and 1930s. The station was designed by JJC Bradfield as part of his wider city underground scheme and, when opened, became one of the busiest stations on the entire network. The construction of the station using cut-and-cover and tunnelling methods was a major engineering achievement for the period.

The station retains elements of its original 1932 design including exposed I-beam columns, original timber balustrades and ironwork banisters on its stairways and two sections of original tiling within associated fire stairs. The construction of Transport House, built above the station, reflects the importance of the railways in the 1930s and the positioning of Wynyard Station at the centre of the modern new system.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Wynyard Station is associated with the development of the city underground and north shore railway network and with JJC Bradfield, designer and chief engineer for the construction of the city underground rail network and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The station is also associated with the engineering firm Dorman Long & Co which was contracted to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I-beams on the platforms show the company's stamp.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Wynyard Station provides evidence of a period of developing railway technology and design in Australia. The scale and methods of construction represent a major feat of engineering for the period. The station retains a number of remnant original decorative features including blue tiling in fire stairs, timber escalators and original stair banisters and balustrades that reflect the art deco style of the station through Railway House.

"Interloop" has aesthetic significance for its impressive sculptural interpretation, hanging in mid-air above the travelling public and confirmed by its constant photographing by the public.
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.

"Interloop" has high social significance as a clever and dramatic representation of the Wynyard escalators which had a special place in the hearts and minds of thousands of travelers who used them and for whom the escalators were reminiscent of a past era and whose replacement drew such a large and concerned public response.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Wynyard Railway Station has a low archaeological potential considering the amount of excavation undertaken during the construction phase in the 1920s and 1930s.
SHR Criteria f)
The bank of four wooden escalators at the York Street entry to Wynyard Station are rare a surviving example of operational wooden railway '48SA type' Otis escalators. They, along with the Town Hall wooden escalators, are unique in Australia and rare world wide.
SHR Criteria g)
Wynyard Station is representative of the design and function of the underground rail network built in Sydney in the 1920s and 1930s.
Integrity/Intactness: Wynyard Station is largely intact in terms of its broad functional layout and features, although the retail and public concourse, as well as the platform décor, has been continually upgraded in line with trends in public architecture and retail presentation.
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  18 Mar 10   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 Godden Mackay Logan  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenD Burke1995Making the Railways
WrittenDon Fraser1987The Railway System, Past Present and Projected of the City of Sydney and its Suburbs
WrittenFuturepast Heritage Consulting2014Wynyard Station Upgrade Statement of Heritage Impact
WrittenIan MacCowan1990The Tramways of New South Wales
WrittenRichard Raxworthy1989An Unreasonable Man: The Life and Works of JJC Bradfield
WrittenSignificance International0Statement of Significance for Town Hall Railway Station Escalators Nos. 1 & 2.

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: 4803268

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