East Maitland Railway Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


East Maitland Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: East Maitland Railway Precinct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: John Street, East Maitland, NSW 2323
Parish: Maitland
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Maitland


The listing boundary commences at Melbourne Street 10metres north of station platform, the western boundary is a line approximately 5metres west of the western platform face extending to a point approximately 10metres from the Sydney end of the platform, then east to the property boundary. The listing includes the former railway line & building and the former parcels office near the subway.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
John StreetEast MaitlandMaitlandMaitlandNorthumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The East Maitland railway precinct is of significance as a mostly intact, early 20th century railway location that includes a standard 'A-type' brick station building as well as a group of similar Federation period station buildings associated with the former branch line to Morpeth (now closed). The extant railway buildings, all dating from c.1914, contribute to the townscape of East Maitland and reveal the development of the Great Northern Railway and the former use of the branch line to Morpeth.
Date significance updated: 25 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 - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building, type 11 (1914)
Platform (1914)
Subway (1914)

Booking office (1914)
Branch line station waiting shed (c1914)

A standard 'A-type' (type 11) brick, island platform building with a gabled, corrugated, galvanised iron roof.
The building consists of 7 bays with cast iron, cantilevered awnings to both platform faces with timber valances from the building to the awning ends and supported by ornate corbels. The brickwork is in Flemish bond. The planning is linear with the parcels office, booking office, general waiting room, ladies room, ladies toilet and male toilets on the platform. The structure has a gable roof clad in corrugated iron, with rendered bracket supports and string courses around the building. The original double panelled windows have been bricked up below the fixed upper panel.
Numerous heritage station signs affixed to external building, for example Ladies, Mens, Waiting Room, and Ticket Signs.
Semi-circular garden bed at end of platform building.

Brick face with ramped ends. Platform is of brick construction with block coping, rendered for first 35m from country end.

SUBWAY (1914)
The subway is located adjacent to the booking office at street level. This is a brick lined access to the main platform and is of standard brick detailing with timber rails around the platform opening.

The booking office is a small, brick building with the same form as the main station building with a gabled roof and cantilevered awning supported by ornate corbels. It fronts the street and is located obliquely to the other buildings but adjacent to the subway. It contains two ticket booths and a ticket office. There is no cover between the booking office and the station buildings.

The East Maitland branch station waiting shed is a small, brick, station building on a curved platform. The building has a corrugated, galvanised iron, gabled roof with a cantilevered awning supported by ornate corbels and a wall-mounted gooseneck light above door. The windows are timber, double hung sash windows with the upper sashes consisting of 3x3 panel arrangement and are bordered by an ornate rendered brick lintel.
The disused platform also features pole-mounted signals, gooseneck lamp posts, timber post and iron rail fencing, and “East Maitland” station name boards made from iron rails, timber and cast iron letters.

Row of mature jacarandas alongside grassy area behind platform.
Concrete station name set in lawn with raised letters.
Lions Club wishing well and plaque – 2nd November 1988.

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:
Main station building and platform: good
Booking office and branch line waiting shed: fair to poor.
Date condition updated:11 Sep 09
Modifications and dates: Several station buildings at East Maitland were constructed in the mid to late 19th century in the same general area as the existing station precinct but were later demolished. The current buildings date from c1914 and have remained generally unchanged, although with the closure of the Morpeth line the waiting shed and the branch line platform have become redundant.
Current use: The RailCorp railway station remains as an operational passenger station while the buildings on the former Morpeth branch line are no longer in use.
Former use: The vacant buildings on the branch line were formerly used for train services to Morpeth


Historical notes: The East Maitland railway precinct is located on the Main North line, which runs from Sydney and extends as far as Wallangarra on the Queensland border. The Main North Line (formerly known as the Great Northern Railway) runs through the Central Coast, Hunter and 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.

West Maitland (now known as Maitland) was settled by farmers from the early 1800s. By the mid-1820s the population of West Maitland had reached 400, however, due to the threat of flood an alternative site for the town was found on a nearby ridge, which became East Maitland and was divided from West Maitland by Wallis Creek. East Maitland was established as a government town to handle the administrative affairs of the local region and was therefore properly surveyed and planned. Sir Thomas Mitchell devised the town plan to encourage growth, with government services such as the courthouse and post office located there and the gaol completed in 1841. During the middle of the 19th century, the three towns of East Maitland, West Maitland and Morpeth dominated the affairs of the Hunter Valley. Administrative and government functions, commercial activities and port and trade activities were controlled from East Maitland, West Maitland and Morpeth, rather than Newcastle (Kass, 2005: 23).

Following the completion of the first railway from Sydney to Parramatta Junction in 1855, proposals for the first railways to the other parts of NSW were driven primarily by pastoral communities seeking improved transport for their produce from inland centres such as Goulburn, Bathurst, Singleton and Muswellbrook (Upper Hunter). Early additions to the Great Northern Railway included Victoria Street to Maitland (opened 1858) and Maitland to Singleton (1863). These were followed by extensions to Muswellbrook in 1869, Aberdeen in 1870 and to Scone in 1871 (Rappoport, 2001; SRA, 1993).

The East Maitland railway precinct has an unusual arrangement and a slightly confusing history, with four separate East Maitland railway precincts identified in the ‘How and Why of Station Names’ (SRA, 1993), each one differentiated by location and date. The original East Maitland station opened on 5 April 1857 at what is now Victoria Street (the 1st East Maitland station closed in March 1858 but was reopened as 'Victoria Street' in 1877. The 2nd East Maitland station opened on 27 July 1858 near the courthouse and at a location not far from the existing station precinct. The 3rd East Maitland station opened as ‘Morpeth Junction’ in 1864, changed to ‘East Maitland’ in 1879 and closed in 1914 (SRA, 1993; Forsyth, 1985).

On 14 June 1914, the 3rd station at East Maitland closed and was replaced by a fourth station at what is now East Maitland railway precinct. The Morpeth line junction was then altered to join the Northern line closer to Newcastle. A separate platform was established on the branch line to handle trains to and from Morpeth, this being adjacent to the main line platforms but at a lower level. The extant buildings on the former Morpeth branch line are believed to have been constructed in c1914 (Forsyth, 1985).

In the 1920s, Morpeth’s traffic declined due to changes in the transportation of wool and improvements to wharf facilities at Newcastle. The line closed to traffic on 31 August 1953 and was officially closed by Parliament in December of the same year (Forsyth, 1985). The station building and other infrastructure located on the main Newcastle to Maitland line at East Maitland remain as operational facilities with regular passenger services.

Extant items include those on both the Newcastle to Maitland line and on the adjacent closed Morpeth line. These include the platform building (1914), brick booking office (1914), parcels office (branch line station), brick platform faces (1914), brick subway, station lights, fences and station signs. The building believed to be the parcel office may have been the former station building on the earlier alignment of the Morpeth branch line (before construction of the 4th East Maitland railway station in 1914).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Transporting crops-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Transporting coal and minerals-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Servicing the pastoral industry-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Transporting livestock and their products-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The East Maitland railway precinct 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; the now redundant Morpeth line, and 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. Although the precinct is sited in the general area that has a rail history of over 150 years, the current railway station building is the fourth to service East Maitland.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The East Maitland station precinct features a good example of a standard 'A-type' station building. The adjacent platform and associated Federation era buildings on the former Morpeth branch line are also significant, providing an unusual example of an arrangement at the junction of a branch line.
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 railway precinct has representative significance for its collection of railway structures dating from the early interwar period. However these buildings are not benchmark examples in design or construction, with similar examples found elsewhere throughout 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 4806006   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA6State Rail Authority  No
S170 Register Update Project2009 ARTC/ ORH  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenArchives Section, State Rail Authority of NSW1993How and why of station names
WrittenCottee, J.M.2004Stations on the track: selected New South Wales country railway stations: an historical overview
WrittenForsyth, J.H.1985Historical notes on railway lines: volume 1 - volume 2, 1983-1985
WrittenJohn H Forsyth2009NSW 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: 4806006

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