Narrandera Railway Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Narrandera Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Narrandera Railway Precinct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Whitton St (Newell Highway), Narrandera, NSW 2700
Parish: Narrandera
County: Cooper
Local govt. area: Narrandera


The listing boundary is formed by the overbridge at the east end of the site, Whitton St to the south, Ferrier St and the boundary of the water reservoirs to the north and the Adams St overbridge to the west.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Whitton St (Newell Highway)NarranderaNarranderaNarranderaCooperPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Narrandera Railway Precinct is of state significance as a tangible link to the NSW Government Railway’s ambitious programme to open up the agricultural regions of the state to commerce and communication in the late 19th century. Constructed during the railway boom of the 1880s, Narrandera Railway Precinct is significant for its role in the end of the riverboat trade which secured the Riverina wool trade by providing a direct link to the Sydney markets and ports. The precinct remains as a partly intact late Victorian railway complex with items dating from the opening of the station in 1881, namely the station building which is a dominant civic landmark that demonstrates the historic importance of Narrandera as a strategic and significant station in the NSW network.
Date significance updated: 25 Sep 07
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: John Whitton (attributed)
Builder/Maker: Charles Hardy
Construction years: 1880-1925
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building - type 3, brick, second class (1881) and stone Platform (1881)
Signal Box - type K, on platform (1925)

MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by John Holland
Engine shed

OTHER ITEMS - Managed by John Holland
Turntable (1910)
5 ton Jib Crane
20 ton Weighbridge
35 ton Weighbridge
Water Tank

The Narrandera station building is single storey and constructed of painted brick. There are rendered quoins and rendered surrounds to windows and door openings. Both the recessed entrance porch and the platform verandah have stop chamfered timber posts and iron lace brackets. The main roof is gabled with two transverse gables at either end and clad with corrugated iron; the roof extension at one end of the station is a mixture of a hipped form and gable hipped form. Both roofs have eaves supported by paired brackets. There is simple timberwork to the gables, together with finials, and there are round vents with render trim on the gables as well. The station has four chimneys with bracketed cornices.

Platform (1881, extended 1942)
Concave side platform. The original 1881 platform face is constructed of stone with later brick extensions and straight concrete coping.

Small precast concrete drop slab building with timber framed windows. The roof is gabled and clad in corrugated sheet metal.

All station signage including “Narrandera” (circle and banner signs), “Narrandera Railway Station Refreshment Room”, “1881”and large timber-framed sign on exterior wall.
All fitted timber wall shelves and benches
Fitted timber ticket desk in storage
Framed prints
Cast iron and concrete door thresholds and boot scrapers
Original and early door and window hardware (locks, handles, sash locks and lifts etc), including a large SRA SL brass padlock
Original and early light fittings, switches, chains and timber mounting blocks
Wrought iron and timber platform bench

Set of signal levers in yard
Galvanised pipe fencing and iron rail fencing
Galvanised farm gates
Garden beds edged with bricks, timber and iron rails
Large section of timber and iron rail retaining wall
Soft-edged bitumen driveway
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good condition.
Platform: Platform generally in good condition. Bitumen surface at city end in poor condition. Short 6m raised concrete section in good condition.
Date condition updated:19 Jun 09
Modifications and dates: 1912 and 1917: station building extended and altered to incorporate Railway Refreshment rooms.
1942: Platform extended.
Current use: Railway Station and Yard
Former use: Railway Station


Historical notes: The Narrandera Railway Precinct is located on the Hay Branch Line. The line opened from Junee to Narrandera in 1881. Charles Hardy was issued a contract for construction of the railway station at Narrandera on 1 September 1880 with the second-class station building completed for the opening of the line on 28 February 1881 (Forsyth, 1992).

In April 1873 John Sutherland, the Minister for Public Works, set out a policy to complete ‘the main trunk railways’; both the Main Southern line to Albury and the Western trunk route to Bourke on the Darling River were responses to the threat that wool from the Riverina and the west would be diverted to Melbourne via river boats and the Victorian railway to Echuca on the Murray River, which opened in 1864. The construction of the line to Narrandera, however, was perpetuated by pastoral interests that overthrew the ‘Trunk Railways Policy’. This laid the foundations for the era of ‘railway mania’ between 1877 and 1887 when railway leagues were established in towns and villages across the inland to lobby for branch lines to serve their area. In the five years from December 1879, the NSW railway network increased 136 per cent from 1174km to 2771km in length, dubbing the period as the ‘Great Railway Years’. Narrandera was one of many centres in NSW (along with Hay and other towns in surrounding districts) to benefit from the 'railway mania' of the 1870s and 1880s (McKillop, 2009).

The opening of the Narrandera-Hay line played a major part in bringing about the decline of the riverboat trade in southern NSW and helped secure the trade of produce from the Riverina for Sydney, whereas it had previously gone predominantly to Melbourne. Narrandera's prosperity increased considerably following the arrival of the railway (RNE, 2009).

In 1884 a grand two-storey residence was constructed for the Station Master, indicating the importance of Narrandera as a key town in the NSW network and the prominence attributed to the position of the railway Station Master (Freeman Collett and Partners, 1995).

Some of the early changes to the station at Narrandera included: the erection of the Junction name board (1891), provision of horse posts at front of station building (1891), office for the Traffic sub-inspector (1891), Hay line brought in to Narrandera independently of Tocumwal branch line, construction of overbridge at Junee end of station (1892), installation of 20 tonne cart weighbridge and an additional coal stage (1900), loop erected for stock loading (1902), provision of an 18.2m turntable (1910), conversion of the ladies waiting room into a refreshment room (1912), and many other additions (Forsyth, 1992).

Initially, the main freight moved to Sydney included wool, sheep and small amounts of wheat. During the early decades of the 20th century the quantities of wheat freight increased greatly with a wheat stacking site provided in 1916. The station building was extended in 1912 and again in 1917 with the opening of the Railway Refreshment rooms. A cottage was also built in 1917 for refreshment room staff (Forsyth, 2009).

From 1910-1950 special trains were used to transport football players and spectators within the Riverina district, with women doing the weekly shopping at the same time. Trains also carried passengers to Narrandera for swimming carnivals and the Easter sporting carnivals and cycling races. Special trains were also used to carry passengers to the district railway picnic days (Freeman Collett and Partners, 1995).

During the 1940s and 1950s, activity at the Narrandera station and yard was at its peak. A new barracks building was constructed in 1941 and the platform was extended at the Sydney end in 1942.

By the 1970s and 1980s rail services in the south and south west of NSW had declined, with the Narrandera to Tocumwal line closing in December 1988. Narrandera station is no longer attended by station staff and is serviced by road coaches connecting with trains at Junee, and a once weekly passenger rail service (Cottee, 2004; SRA, 1993).

The two-storey Station Master’s residence is still extant, but was sold in 1988 and is now in private ownership.

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 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 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 Rail to ship interchange-
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-
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 Shaping inland settlement-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Moving people to events and leisure activities-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Significant railway identities-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site is significant as a partly intact late Victorian railway complex with items dating from the opening of the station in 1881. Railway operations at Narrandera date back to the ‘Great Railway Years’ in NSW in the late 19th century, with the station opening during the time of the earliest development of railway infrastructure in south western NSW in the 1880s. Narrandera Railway Precinct has historic significance for its connection to the NSW Government Railway’s ambitious programme to open up the agricultural regions of the state to commerce and communication in the late 19th century. The penetration of the railway into the Riverina area also reveals inter-colonial rivalry in the late 19th century, namely concerns by the NSW government about Victorian competition for agricultural produce in this region. The site is significant for the role it played in the decline of the riverboat trade which helped secure the Riverina wool trade for Sydney, instead of Melbourne. Narrandera prospered greatly after the arrival of the railway, with the railway enhancing transport, communications and commerce in the Narrandera area. Narrandera is also significant as the junction for the branch line to Jerilderie and Tocumwal.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
As with many railway locations constructed in NSW, Narrandera Railway Precinct has associations with the Engineer-in-Chief of the NSWGR, John Whitton, who personally signed all of the construction drawings associated with the 1881 station building at Narrandera. The station is also located on Whitton Street, named after John Whitton, demonstrating his prominence in NSW during the 1880s.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Narrandera station building has aesthetic significance as a fine example of a late Victorian second-class station building. The station building is a substantial and aesthetically significant structure with a large awning to the platform and includes some notable decorative features such as bargeboards, finials and pendants.
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)
The stone platform face is rare, and are found at only 12 other station sites in NSW.
SHR Criteria g)
Narrandera railway precinct is a notable example of a late Victorian second-class station building, similar in design and scale to other railway stations at comparable locations in southern and western NSW. The place also has representative significance for its collection of railway structures including the signal box, barracks, engine shed, crane, turntable, weighbridge and other related items that collectively demonstrate widespread 19th and early 20th century railway customs, activities and design in NSW, and are representative of similar items that are found in other railway sites across the state.
Integrity/Intactness: The station building retains a high level of 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 Study1999SRA262State 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
Written  Narrandera Railway Station Conservation Management Plan v.2 (appendices)
WrittenFreeman Collett and Partners1995Narrandera Shire Council and Narrandera Heritage Study
WrittenJ.M. Cottee2004Stations on the track: selected New South Wales country railway stations: an historical overview
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
WrittenRegister of National Estate2009Listing for Narrandera Railway Station and Station Master’s Residence
WrittenState Rail Authority of NSW, Archives Section1993How and why of station names

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: 4806262

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