Willow Tree Railway Station | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Willow Tree Railway Station

Item details

Name of item: Willow Tree Railway Station
Other name/s: Warrah
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Borambil Creek Road, Willow Tree, NSW 2339
Local govt. area: Liverpool Plains


RailCorp property boundaries as shown on vesting plan, R29707. 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
Borambil Creek RoadWillow TreeLiverpool Plains  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Willow Tree Railway Station is of local significance as a rare pre-cast concrete drop slab building, being one of only a few examples of a once-common building type to remain in NSW. This type of building was constructed throughout regional NSW railway locations, with the use of pre-cast concrete widely employed during the Interwar period as a functional and economical material which enabled ease in the construction of standardised building designs. Over 140 pre-cast concrete station buildings were constructed in NSW, and Willow Tree is one of only a few known examples of this scale, and is significant due to its high level of integrity.
Date significance updated: 23 Jan 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.


Construction years: 1877-1927
Physical description: Station Building, Type 12, (c1927)
Platform (c1877)

The station building is a type 12, standard Ac5 precast concrete drop panel, wayside station building. The design consists of a principal building parallel to the railway lines with a gabled roof and two transverse gabled rooved pavilions projecting from either end to the station approach elevation joined by a verandah supported on timber posts. The platform is covered by a steel, cantilevered awning with timber valances from the roof to the awning ends. The roof is clad in fibrolite and the gable ends include fibro cement sheets for bargeboards. The windows are timber, double hung sash with timber frames and upper sashes with a 3x3 pane arrangement. There is a good example of coloured glass with the station name in contrasting glass in the waiting room. The doors are timber, some with glass panelling, and include transom windows and concrete lintels. The parcels room, originally the eastern pavilion, features double timber, sliding doors at both elevations.
Site features:
• Recycled rail edging for garden beds
• Ticket window in SM office/waiting room with remnant SRA notice
• Original bathroom partitions in female bathrooms
• Timber mantels in SM office, waiting room and female waiting room
• Wire screen door to SM office
• Timber benches in waiting room
• Station name signage in window glazing
• Remnant paint schemes in parcels area
• Water tank plinths
• Concrete slabs from former structures (ARTC/ JH managed)
• Well with concrete lid

PLATFORM (c1877)
A straight side platform with brick face and asphalt surface. Has been extended. Coping has been raised with concrete blockwork.

None Identified (audit conducted 2018).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:12 Oct 09
Modifications and dates: The original station was damaged by fire and removed c1927. Other structures such as the signal box, out-of shed and steam facilities, used to support banking engines for the grade to Ardglen, have been removed.
Missing water tanks.
HAZMAT removal of ceilings.
Further information: Signal box removed c2000.
Current use: Railway Station
Former use: Nil


Historical notes: Willow Tree Railway Station 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.

Willow Tree is located at the north-eastern corner of the enormous Warrah grant which was owned by the Australian Agricultural Company in 1833. An inn was established on the future town site, at the junction of the roads north to Quirindi and north-east to Wallabadah in the mid-19th century. It was, however, the arrival of the railway in the 1870s that led to settlement. The village was surveyed when part of the Warrah grant was subdivided and sold in 1908.

The extension of the line from Murrurundi to Willow Tree called for 1-in-40 grades in both directions, and required engineers to overcome the major challenge of penetrating the Liverpool Range with the single-track Ardglen tunnel, opened in 1887 (Burke, 1995). On the 13th of August of the same year, the single line from Murrurundi to Quirindi was officially opened. The construction contract for the Murrurundi to West Tamworth section was awarded to William Wakeford on 17 March 1874. The station opened as Warrah on 13 August 1877, and was renamed Willow Tree in 1879. The station was named after the Willow Tree Inn, which was located on the Old Northern Road about 500m north of the railway station (Forsyth, 2009).

The original construction contract for the station was awarded to W Hudson, and included a timber station building and station master’s residence. Major changes and additions to the station precinct included the construction of a night officer’s residence in 1910; the installation of a 5-tonne gantry crane in 1912, and the addition of a bank locomotive siding and cart weighbridge in 1914. Historic plans which pre-date the construction of the night officer’s residence in 1910 also indicate the addition of a trolley shed; goods shed, and turntable, although their exact date of construction is not known. Plans also indicate that by 1914 an out-of-shed and signal box had been added on the station platform, both of which were still extant in the early 1980s but are not visible in modern photographs. In 1929, a new station building was provided to replace those destroyed by a fire, and in 1960 the platform was lengthened (Forsyth, 2009).

The pre-cast concrete drop panel construction for station buildings became a standard railway construction method particularly throughout the 1920s. Approximately 140 pre-cast drop-panel concrete station buildings were constructed in regional NSW during 1919 - 1932. There were five standard designs that ranged from the Ac1 which was a simple waiting room; through to larger station buildings such as the Ac5 which was used at Willow Tree and featured five rooms in a U-shape form with front verandah. The standard designs were later reissued as Pc1 - Pc3 in c.1925. Historic plans dated 1927 of the station building show the weatherboard U-shaped building with fibrolite roof, wooden awning, and back veranda. The building internally comprised of a parcels office, booking office, general waiting room, ladies room and lavatories. Plans from 1982 provide evidence that the internal composition of the building has not been altered, and modern photographs show that externally the building is in near original condition.

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 architecture-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Willow Tree 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 generally. 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 more generally.

The concrete drop-slab type of building was constructed throughout regional NSW railway locations, with the use of pre-cast concrete widely employed during the Interwar period as a functional and economical material which enabled ease in the construction of standardised building designs.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Willow Tree station building has aesthetic value as an intact and attractive, concrete drop slab building featuring double pavilions; a verandah; cantilevered platform awning, and timber windows and doors.
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 f)
Willow Tree station building is a rare pre-cast concrete station building. Over 140 pre-cast concrete station buildings were constructed in NSW, and Willow Tree is one of only a few known examples of this scale, and is significant due to its high level of integrity (other example at Leeton).
Integrity/Intactness: The station building has 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  18 Mar 10   

Study details

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

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBurke, D.1995Making the Railways
WrittenCottee, J.M.2004Stations on the track: selected New South Wales country railway stations: an historical overview
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: 4805726

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