Harden Railway Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Harden Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Harden Railway Precinct
Other name/s: Murrumburrah; North Murrumburrah
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Station Street, Harden, NSW 2587
Parish: Murrimboola
County: Harden
Local govt. area: Harden


The listing boundary is the area contained on the platform for the station buildings and an area approximately 5m wide around each of the signal boxes and residences.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Station StreetHardenHardenMurrimboolaHardenPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Harden Railway Precinct is state significant as a representative example of a railway complex demonstrating the importance placed on railway development in country NSW during the late 19th century. The station building reveals the evolution of the development of railway infrastructure in the area to accommodate increased traffic and change to an island platform for duplication of the line. The complex, including the remains of the locomotive depot (although not visible) and accommodation buildings, provides evidence of Harden’s former status as a major engine servicing and changing location from the 1880s until the early 1920s. The signal boxes are significant for demonstrating two varying styles of construction for a standard railway structure and for demonstrating past railway safe-working and signalling operations in NSW.
Date significance updated: 12 Mar 10
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: 1877-1919
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building - second-class, type 3 (1877, 1881, 1919)
Refreshment Rooms (1884)
Platform (1881, 1914)
Subway (c1919)

Signal Box - north, type I (1912)
Signal Box - south, type I (1912)
Station Master’s Residence - 51 Whitton St, type 6 (c1885)

Relics of Former Engine Shed, Turntable and Coal Stage Support.

STATION BUILDING (1877, 1881, 1919) and REFRESHMENT ROOMS (1884)
The station building has been constructed in a number of stages, buts its primary form dates from c1881. The 1881 building replaced an earlier 1877 two-storey combined residence and station building (it is unknown what fabric was reused from the original 1877 building). The building was again altered in 1884 with the addition of the refreshment rooms, and extended and altered again in 1919 to its current form.

Plans dating from 1915 show the brick station building comprising of a central waiting room, telegraph, traffic inspector, and Station Master’s offices, ladies lavatories, men’s urinals, and a booking and parcels office, with the attached Refreshment Room containing a dining room and bar, with 4 staff bedrooms and a bathroom above, a sitting room, kitchen, and a fenced in yard containing store rooms and an additional toilet.

The station building presents as a painted brick one-storey building with two-storey RRR wing with both hipped and gabled roofs, with the main building having a central transverse gable. The roof was originally slate, with later additions in corrugated iron; however, it has been entirely replaced with unsympathetic shingle lap tiles. All chimney stacks have been removed. Some original double-hung timber sash windows remain, including rendered surrounds to the RRR building. Both elevations have platform awnings, with the Up side supported on original cast iron fluted columns. The Down side awning constructed for duplication works is supported on standard double curved steel brackets. ‘Bar’ sign painted / etched to glazing of the fan light of platform facing door. Interior wall of waiting room is unsympathetic wood paneling in poor condition.

PLATFORM (1881, 1914)
Brick face and asphalt surface. The original platform was converted to an island platform in 1914 so that the street facade became the Down platform. Older style platform lamp posts present - some with strip ‘vandelux’ fittings. Unsympathetic loop top ‘pool’ fencing is present at the extended platform section.
Platform 1 (1881): Platform wall comprises original brick and stone section with steel post/conc panel extension. Deck comprises of concrete and bitumen sections. Platform 2 (1914): Platform wall comprises of brick with a cement rendered coping. Deck comprises bitumen.

SUBWAY (c1919)
Brick subway with concrete slab roof providing access to island platform.

The two boxes are similar in design and construction but not identical, the south box being slightly larger than the north as it controlled access to the former locomotive facilities. The boxes are large two-storey weatherboard structures. Access to the upper signal level is by an external stair with WC on the landing. The roof is hipped and overhangs to provide shade to the windows wrapping around three side of the box. The lower level contains 5 windows to the front and an entrance door to the side.

Standard ‘J2’ design. Painted brick one-storey building with hipped corrugated iron roof with corbelled chimneys and front verandah supported on simple timber posts. Later addition to side of building.

Relics of Former Engine Shed, Turntable and Coal Stage Support.
Fencing at street side is the older style metal posts currently painted mustard.

5-ton jib crane with pulley and hook on brick plinth in yard
Second large jib crane, pulley and hook
“Harden” incised timber platform benches
Painted “BAR” lettering on door fanlights
Original and early door and window hardware (locks, handles, sash locks and lifts etc)
Stock loading timber structures on disused short platform/siding
Reproduction heritage-style lamp posts on platform
Blue flower pot
Decorative gooseneck light posts
Cast iron and concrete door thresholds and boot scrapers
Fitted and freestanding timber benches in waiting room
Station signage
Iron rail fence posts and galvanised iron and wire farm gates
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
2015: Many structures in poor condition. Pigeon infestation issue.
Date condition updated:30 Nov 09
Modifications and dates: 1881 Platform lengthened and Station rebuilt
1883 20-tonne cart weighbridge installed.
1884 Refreshment room built.
1886 New portable post and telegraph office erected.
1888 Engine shed from Wagga Wagga erected alongside original shed, and small engine shed from Granville used as a workshop.
1891 Goods sidings and yard extended
1895 Engine shed destroyed by fire.
1896 Carriage shed built
1906 Additional sidings provided at north end of yard.
1913 Island platform erected and relocation of carriage sheds, weighbridge and yard structures. New turntable.
1913 New rest house and houses for Loco employees.
1919 Station buildings renovated.
1920 Parcel and Ticket offices on island platform extended.
1924 Platform extended.
1957 Refreshment room closed.
1967 Depot closed.
1970-80s Sidings and yard structures removed
(Forsyth, 2009).
Current use: Operational passenger station for XPT services
Former use: Passenger station, locomotive depot and goods yard


Historical notes: Harden Railway Precinct is located on the Main South Line.

Following the completion of the first railway from Sydney to Parramatta Junction in 1855, proposals for the first railways to the rest of NSW were driven by pastoral communities seeking improved transport for their produce from the inland centres such as Goulburn, Bathurst, Singleton and Muswellbrook. It wasn’t until 1860, however, that definite plans were made to extend the Great Southern Line to Picton, with an extension to Goulburn opening in 1869 (Lee, 2000, p98).

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 and other produce from the Riverina and the west of NSW would be diverted to Melbourne via river boats and the Victorian railway to Echuca on the Murray River, which opened in 1864. In May 1874 a contract was awarded to A & R Amos and Alex Kerr for construction of a single line between Yass Junction and Cootamundra (McKillop, 2009).

The single line from Binalong to Harden opened on 12 March 1877. Harden Station opened as ‘Murrumburrah’, was renamed ‘North Murrumburrah’ in September 1878 and finally ‘Harden’ in September 1880. Early railway structures at Harden included an 1877 two-storey combined residence and station building (similar to Bowning and Yass Junction) and a goods shed (Cottee, 2004; SRA, 1993).

Harden was also the site of a substantial locomotive depot which opened in 1877. In sparsely populated areas and hilly terrain, isolated towns such as Harden were established, whose very existence depended on the railway generally and specifically on the requirements of the steam locomotive. The depot originally included a coal stage, enginemen’s barracks, and a re-erected cottage from Binalong. In 1879 a two-track engine shed with a capacity for six locomotives was constructed at the southern end of the yard next to the Main line (Cottee, 2004).

The establishment of the loco depot and the influx of railway staff at Harden led the erection of cottages and shops close to the railway station. By 1926, 272 men were on the payroll at Harden (Harden Shire Council, 2009).

In 1881 a new station building was built, with part of the original station building believed to have been relocated to Tallong. In 1884 the new station building was extended to include a new refreshment room to coincide with the opening of a branch line to Blayney in 1885. In 1913, the platform was converted to an island platform for the duplication of the line, along with the construction of two signal boxes in 1914, the construction of 12 railway houses in 1914, and renovation of the station buildings in 1919 (Cottee, 2004).

The depot at Harden also underwent several additions and improvements, including an additional engine shed in 1888, a new turntable in 1912 and the construction of a third engine shed in 1914, after the original was destroyed by fire. On 24 Dec 1961 the depot came under the control of Cootamundra Depot, and was closed not long after in 1967 (Forsyth, 2009).

Some railway memorabilia and items associated with the history of the station, including the original RRR bar, are now on display at the Harden-Murrumburrah Historical Museum.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Signalling and safe working-
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 Maintaining the railway network-
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 Transport of goods-
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 Impacts of railways on urban form-
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 settlements-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Provision of railway water supplies-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Harden Railway Precinct is of historical significance for its ability to demonstrate the importance placed on railway development in country NSW during the earliest period of railway construction in NSW, as evidenced by the quality and scale of buildings constructed at this relatively isolated location. The station building demonstrates the evolution of railway infrastructure in the area to accommodate increased traffic and the change to an island platform for duplication of the line. The large station and railway yard complex including the remains of the locomotive depot, and surrounding accommodation buildings (most no longer in railway ownership) demonstrate the importance of the railways as a major source of employment in the local area and for demonstrating the past custom of providing accommodation for railway staff. The extant signal boxes are significant for demonstrating past railway safe-working and signalling operations in NSW.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The aesthetic values of the station and railway yard complex have been reduced by unsympathetic modifications to the 1880s station building and RRR. The Station Master’s residence however remains largely intact and has aesthetic significance as a simple Victorian domestic building. The signal boxes have aesthetic significance as utilitarian structures with original detailing and fabric typical of standard railway design.
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 e)
[Research potential]
The place has research values as the archaeological remains of the former locomotive depot may provide evidence of Harden’s former status as a major engine servicing and changing location from the 1880s until the early 1920s. However, there appears to be little that remains of the former depot facilities.
SHR Criteria g)
The place has representative significance for its collection of railway structures including the signal boxes, station building and residence 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 at many other railway sites across the state.

The 1880s station building at Harden is representative of a type-3 second-class station building and refreshment room complex. The building however has been highly altered and there are many better examples extant in NSW.

The signal boxes are significant as two of approximately 11 Type I signal boxes remaining in NSW, and are significant for demonstrating two varying styles of construction. Other examples remain at Yass Junction and Moss Vale.
Integrity/Intactness: While the station building retains and shows its development through three major stages and a number of minor changes, much of the character has been removed from the building by unsympathetic work on the structure.
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 Study1999SRA270State 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
WrittenForsyth, J.H.1989Stations & tracks: volume 2: Main Southern Line: Granville Junction to Albury: Station, siding, track & bridge data
WrittenJ.M. Cottee2004Stations on the Track
WrittenMcKillop, R2009NSW Railways (RailCorp) Thematic History
WrittenState Rail Authority of NSW Archives1993How 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: 4806270

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