Armidale Railway Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Armidale Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Armidale Railway Precinct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Railway Parade, Armidale, NSW 2350
Parish: Armidale
County: Sandon
Local govt. area: Armidale Dumaresq


The listing boundary for the station area is a line parallel to the tracks on the opposite side to the platform following the property boundary, crossing the tracks approximately 10 metres to the east of the platform and at the rear boundary of the residence property and returning along the southern side of Brown Street. Please note this site is listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR) for which the curtilage may differ – see image gallery for more information. Any proposed development within the vicinity of the listed site should also consider the historic relationship between the listing and its surrounding area.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Railway ParadeArmidaleArmidale DumaresqArmidaleSandonPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Armidale railway precinct is of state significance, particularly for the grand, 19th century, first class station building that exhibits significant architectural and aesthetic attributes and reflects the importance of Armidale as a major regional centre and significant railway location (now the terminus of the northern line). The railway precinct at Armidale includes a significant station and railway yard dating from a period of extensive railway construction in NSW in the late 19th century. The station building and other extant structures at Armidale demonstrate the rapid expansion of railway infrastructure in the 1880s in the New England region and in other parts of NSW. The station building is an excellent and mostly intact example of late 19th century railway station architecture in NSW and retains good detailing. The station building is still in use and remains a major civic building and an important element within the townscape of Armidale.

Note: the collection of perway machines are separately listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR # 01075).
Date significance updated: 04 Jan 08
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.


Builder/Maker: Edmund Lonsdale and Henry Sheldon Hoddard
Construction years: 1882-1883
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building, type 5, first class (1883)
Platform, brick face (1883, modified 1907, 1912)
Dock platform, brick (1883)

MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by John Holland
Barracks (c1880s masonry building; c1940s timber building)
Goods shed (1883 original timber building; 1965 brick and steel extension)
Per Way Offices and Shed
Turntable (1899)

This is a major first class station building constructed of rendered brick with a pavilion at each end. The main booking office is located centrally and is marked by a raised transverse gable roof and separate entrance roof. The entrance is flanked by verandahs with cast iron columns decorated with filigree detailing. The platform awning is largely in the form of the earlier buildings and is also supported on cast iron columns and brackets. The building has a well detailed decorative dentil course with projecting brickwork. The roof is now clad in corrugated iron (formerly slate). Some sections of the verandah have been in-filled as has the section linking the eastern pavilion to the main building.

The building does not follow the standard lineal arrangement seen in many railway structures, with the Station Master’s office on the street side accessed through the ticket office and parcels, separated from the booking hall with a main street entrance. The building also interestingly has two ladies waiting rooms, one at each end of the building.

Curved Signal box at end of platform possible c1940s extension.

Brick face with ramped ends. 1907: Platform extended at southern end. 1912 platform extended. Platform originally brickwork. Part of wall has been cut back. Lever bay at 10.8-14.5m from Country end.

Brick face

BARRACKS (c1880s masonry building and c1940s timber building)
Brick and timber construction with covered verandah (12.5m). Possibly the oldest extant drivers’ rest house - roof not original.

GOODS SHED (1883) (John Holland)
It is a large structure consisting of two sections: the first, is of timber construction built in 1883 with a gabled, corrugated, galvanised iron roof that overhangs the building, supported by timber braces, and provides covering for two loading stages on both sides of the building. The building includes a storeroom and an office, which originally was an annex to the building but is now covered by the second section. The second section is a brick and patent steel extension constructed in 1965 (partly re-clad in the 1980s) that provides a large, covered loading area. The loading crane has been removed.

Corrugated, galvanised iron structure currently housing a trike collection.

TURNTABLE (1899) (John Holland)
18.2m diameter

Site features:
• some large mature trees
• Cast iron grates on platform
• Modern but sympathetic goose neck lamp posts in car park
• Dock platform (now partially filled in as carpark) but with remnant brick coping
• Lever frame in signal box
• Dining room joinery including fixed cabinet in leased area
• Fibrous cement station name sign (above signal box window)
• Platform scales
• Large platform clock
• Timber mantel

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:
• Cast Iron Safe

Note the State Heritage Listing for this site lists additional movable items under the ownership and responsibility of the local council, run by volunteers. This includes the external trike display. The internal museum display has been provided by local fettlers and has numerous items for track maintenance and also steam engine fire irons.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:18 Sep 07
Modifications and dates: RAILWAY PRECINCT
1882 - Contract awarded for the construction of engine crew barracks, porters’ cottages and gate house;
1886 - Tender awarded for construction of refreshment rooms;
1907 - Platform at southern end extended;
1912 - Platform extended;
1913 - Overbridge between Jessie and Dangar Streets opened and Dangar Street level crossing closed;
1916 - Refreshment room taken over by the NSWGR;
1920 - Institute building authorised;
1922 - A subway at Niagara Street provided and level crossing at this street and other crossings at 579.90km and 583.10km closed;
1926 - A loading bank for loading sheep erected
c1940s - Signal box extension/addition
1993 - Most internal areas modified in 1993 fit out with little evidence of original joinery (except some original joinery intact in leased area (Toy library))

1882 - Contract awarded for provision of a coal stage and pumphouse;
1882 - Contract awarded for the construction of 3-track engine shed;
1882 - Engine shed opened as a ‘through type’ shed;
1891 - Coal stage 18.2m long erected;
1899 - A 18.2m diameter turntable provided, replacing the 15.240m diameter unit originally installed;
1918 - A 14.1kW oil engine and shafting in the machine shop installed;
1923 - A drop pit and engine pits provided;
1923 - Holman hoist erected for coal loading;
1923 - Boilermakers shop erected;
1926 - Holman coal hoist installed;
1926 - 22.8m diameter turntable ordered from Messrs Poole & Steel Ltd.;
1945 - 90kL water tank erected;
1976 - Diesel locomotive and wagon repair shed and yard modifications;
1984 - Depot closed.
(Forsyth, 2009).
Further information: Operational railway station; goods shed leased for recycled goods warehouse; per way depot and shed used as a small railway museum; original dining room area leased to Toy Library. Most other structures surplus to requirements and not in use.
Current use: Operational railway station; various leased areas
Former use: Passenger railway station and goods yard


Historical notes: Armidale 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.

Armidale was first settled in the early 1830s, following the earlier exploration of the area by John Oxley. Oxley recommended the region for grazing, and soon early pioneers set up small farms in the locality. Armidale, which was surveyed in 1848 and gazetted in 1849, was established to provide a market and administration centre for the farms. The town grew rapidly following the discovery of gold at nearby Rocky River and Gara Gorges in the 1850s (Burke, 1995).

Although the opening of the Great Northern Railway occurred on 30 March 1857, political indecision in the 1870s hampered efforts by Engineer-in-Chief of the NSW Railways, John Whitton, to finalise the survey of the Great Northern line. Competing proposals urged a route via Armidale and Tenterfield against a less developed but easier route through Barraba and Inverell. On 18 May 1878, the Minister for Public Works, John Sutherland, announced that the chosen route was via Armidale (Burke, 1995).

The line to Armidale opened on 3 February 1883 as an extension of the line from Uralla and continued on to Glen Innes the following year. The construction contract for the Uralla to Glen Innes section was awarded to D Proudfoot in c1882. Contracts for the construction of a station building, Station Master’s residence, lamp room, carriage dock and buffer, goods shed, and water tank were awarded in 1882 to Edmund Lonsdale (1843 -1913). Lonsdale began his working life as a bricklayer, builder and contractor before beginning a career in state politics (1891-1913), serving as a member for New England and Armidale. The fine cast iron work of the station building was completed at New England Foundry in Uralla by Henry Sheldon Goddard (Forsyth, 2009; Cottee, 2004; SRA 1993).

In addition to the station building, other early structures and additions to the yard included the 1882 loco depot, 1891 coal stage, a new 18.288 metre turntable in 1899, extensions to the platform in 1907 and in 1912, and a signal box in 1918 (Cottee, 2004; SRA, 1993).

The loco depot closed in 1984 but Armidale remains an operational railway station with daily Countrylink passenger services.

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 Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Transporting agricultural supplies and machinery-
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-
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 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-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Armidale 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 station building and railway yard at Armidale date from a period of extensive railway construction in NSW in the late 19th century and are closely associated with the rapid expansion of railway infrastructure in the New England region and in other parts of NSW in the 1880s. The station and yard reflect the importance of Armidale as a major regional centre which warranted a notable station building and large forecourt area.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Armidale railway station is associated with a significant Armidale identity, Edmund Lonsdale, who built the station building and later served as a NSW state parliamentarian for over 20 years.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The station building is state significant for it’s high level of aesthetic significance. Armidale is a large, first class station building with a high level of decorative detailing. The building has a significant presence within the townscape of Armidale.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The railway precinct is of social significance to the local community, having performed an important role in supporting the town as a regional centre for agricultural commerce and thereby being the site of significant activity and employment. The railway station contributes to the local community’s sense of place and displays continuity of use since the 1880s, providing a connection to the local community’s past.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Armidale has research potential and significance as a historic, representative landmark, rural railway station building and precinct.
SHR Criteria g)
The railway precinct includes a representative collection of railway structures; particularly the station building which is a good representative example of first-class railway architecture in NSW. The precinct collectively demonstrates widespread 19th and early 20th Century railway customs, activities and design in NSW.
Integrity/Intactness: The station buildings have a good level of integrity/ intactness.
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 Study1999SRA199State 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
WrittenJ.M. Cottee2004Stations on the track
WrittenJohn H Forsyth2009NSW Railway Stations - An Alphabetical Arrangement of Railway Station and Place Names
WrittenMcKillop, R2009NSW Railways (RailCorp) Thematic History
MapRailCorp RailCorp Historic Plans, various

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4806199

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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.