Leeton Railway Precinct | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Leeton Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Leeton Railway Precinct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Railway Avenue, Leeton, NSW 2705
Parish: Willimbong
County: Cooper
Local govt. area: Leeton

Boundary:

The listing boundary is formed by the outside of the triangle on two sides, intersected by Railway Avenue and a line 20 metres to the rear of the location of the former goods shed to the north. Please note this site is listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR) for which the curtilage differs – for more information see images.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Railway AvenueLeetonLeetonWillimbongCooperPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Leeton Railway Precinct is of state significance as an intact example of a large precast concrete station building and is one of only two similar examples in NSW. Over 140 precast concrete station buildings were constructed in NSW, and Leeton is one of only a few known examples of this scale. The construction of the railway station was an integral component of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) Scheme which provided the opportunity for new agricultural resources to be grown and freighted by rail to the rest of NSW. Following World War I, the town became a settlement for migrants and returned soldiers, who travelled by train to embark on a new life. The site of the railway precinct is important for its historic link to the original urban plan of Leeton by Walter Burley Griffin. The other remaining railway structures including the signal box, goods shed and weighbridge collectively demonstrate widespread 20th century railway customs, activities and design in NSW.
Date significance updated: 28 Sep 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.

Description

Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building - type 12, standard 'Ac5' precast concrete (1922)
Platform - concrete
Signal Box -precast concrete, now part of Station Building (1922, relocated/ modified 1965)

MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by John Holland
Goods Loading Bank (c1920)
Weighbridge and Hut (c1922)


STATION BUILDING (1922)
The station building is constructed of concrete drop slab panels, a standard material used throughout regional NSW during the 1920s. The main building presents as a symmetrical elevation, with a 1965 extension to the east to incorporate the original signal box. The roof is gabled with two protruding transverse gables at each end. The roof was originally clad in asbestos cement tiles, but has been partially reclad in painted corrugated iron.

The original building is a ‘U’ shape floor plan which originally incorporated five rooms, with central waiting room and Station Master’s office, flanked by a store and parcels room in one wing, with a ladies waiting room and bathrooms in the other. A verandah is incorporated on the roadside elevation between the two projecting wings. The platform elevation features a large awning supported on simple timber brackets. Windows are double hung timber framed.

SIGNAL BOX (1922)
The signal box was originally constructed in 1922 at the same time as the station building, which was also constructed from precast concrete drop slab panels. In 1965, the station building was extended, which resulted in the signal box being incorporated into the main form of the station building. As such, the roof profile of the original signal box has been altered to be incorporated under the new gable of the 1965 extension.

PLATFORM (c1922-1930)
Platform comprises steel rail post and concrete panel cast in situ. 77m of platform used and concrete deck; remainder gravel deck.

MOVABLE
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:
All station signage
Steel and timber waiting room bench
Various timber furnishings
Cast iron and concrete door thresholds and boot scrapers
Cast iron and wrought iron platform benches with “Leeton” painted lettering
SRA brass padlock
Wall-mounted safe

LANDSCAPE
Mature trees, including Canary Island date palms
Iron rail posts and fencing
Pair of galvanised farm gates
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Buildings are generally in good condition.
Date condition updated:25 Nov 09
Modifications and dates: In 1965 the parcels room was modified, and the signal box was incorporated into the station building.
In 2015 the goods shed (c1921) was destroyed by an arson attack.
Current use: The railway station is now used as a Countrylink coach stop and railway station
Former use: Operational railway station and goods yard

History

Historical notes: The NSW Government’s plans for the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) Scheme, commenced with the Barren Jack Dam and Murrumbidgee Canals Construction Act 1906. Construction of the dam commenced in March 1907 with the construction of initial site facilities. Much of the work was to be undertaken by the Public Works Department, which included the construction of canals, weirs, channels and bridges. With this irrigation system in operation, the Government hoped to attract hundreds of new immigrants to a new farming region. The building of a narrow gauge railway to provide access to the site was also commenced in 1907 (McKillop, 2008).

The Murrumbidgee Irrigation Act 1910 established the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Trust. Minister for Public Works, Arthur Hill Griffith, was appointed as first chairman of the Trust in 1911. It was soon obvious that the grand scheme was beyond the competency of the Trust, and so the Irrigation Act 1912 saw the Trust superseded by a Commissioner for Water Conservation and Irrigation (the WC&IC). The first Commissioner, Leslie Wade, was appointed from 1 January 1913 (McKillop, 2008).

Wade's vision for the MIA was “looking to new railways to service the area, new business enterprises to handle and market the produce, processing facilities, power generation, and domestic water supplies and commercial service centres to support the expected population...Two urban designs were required. The town of Leeton, named after the prominent MIA supporter Charles Lee and (the town of) Griffith after Sir Arthur Griffith.” Wade saw an opportunity for his vision in 1913 when Walter Burley Griffin came to Australia after winning the international competition for the design of the new National Capital in Canberra. “For Leeton, Griffin proposed a new town centre around a prominent hill. Two water reservoir towers on top of the hill were to provide the main entrance to the town. A grand central plaza would lead from the towers, complete with ornamental pools and a fountain. The drawings depict large buildings with typical Griffin geometric forms similar to those that grace the Griffin drawings for the national capital” (McKillop, 2008).

“During 1914 Griffin was sending blueprints of the Griffith railway line and was also undertaking the urban design for Griffith, including the terminus for the Barellan to Griffith railway then under construction.” Leslie Wade suddenly died on 12 January 1915. With the project’s key promoter gone and Australia's involvement in a world war imminent, enthusiasm for the grand project waned (McKillop, 2008).

"Leeton got its circular street pattern and water towers, the first of which was completed in 1915, with their classic Griffin features. For years they were framed by the typical 'outback architecture' of the School of Arts building erected by the WC&IC in 1913. A railway connection was made with Narrandera in 1922 and the infrastructure of a typical Australian rural town emerged over the years" (McKillop, 2008).

Leeton became a settlement for Post World War I migrants and soldiers who came to settle in the MIA. The Yanco to Griffith line opened from Narrandera to Griffith on 6 March 1922 and was used to freight vegetable and horticultural produce from the MIA to Sydney markets and ports (McKillop, 2009).

In June 1921 a goods shed was transferred from Bangaroo to Leeton for use by the Construction Branch. Leeton station opened on 6 March 1922 with a concrete drop slab station building, signal box and 123 metre-long platform on the Down side just past the goods traffic level crossing. The precast concrete drop panel construction for station buildings became a standard railway construction method, particularly throughout the 1920s. Approximately 140 precast 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 Leeton and featured five rooms in a U-shape form with front verandah. The standard designs were later reissued as Pc1- Pc3 in c1925 (ORH, 2009).

The original arrangement at Leeton included a crossing loop between the platform road and the goods loop siding, the latter serving a goods shed and loading dump platform. At the Down side of the yard there were various sidings including those for the Leeton canning factory and butter factories, and on the Down side there was also a stock loop siding for stock races. A triangle for turning locomotives was provided behind the passenger station (Forsyth, 1992).

In July 1923 a crossing loop and 5 tonne gantry crane were erected and in September 1938 a triangle was installed. A 90 kl single-tier water tank on timber stand was located between the goods shed and loading dump platform, probably in c1938. An additional siding was provided in 1936 for fruit growers. A footbridge was constructed in 1959 by the local Council (Forsyth, 1992).

In 1965 the parcels room was enlarged, and the signal box incorporated into the main structure. The wheat stacking siding was removed in c1988 (Forsyth, 1992; SRA, 1993). The station building is now used as a Countrylink coach stop and as an operational railway station 2 days per week. The former goods yard is no longer in use.
In 2015 the goods shed (c1921) was destroyed by an arson attack.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Migration-Activities and processes associated with the resettling of people from one place to another (international, interstate, intrastate) and the impacts of such movements Moving migrants inland-
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 Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use 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 Transport of goods-
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-
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-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site of the railway precinct is important for its historic link to the design of the town of Leeton by Walter Burley Griffin. The construction of the railway station was an integral component of the NSW government’s ambitious Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) Scheme which provided the opportunity for new agricultural resources to be grown and freighted by rail to the rest of NSW. Following World War I, the town became a settlement for migrants and returned soldiers, who travelled by train to embark on a new life.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The station building is significant as a good example of a large standard precast concrete station building constructed in NSW in the 1920s.
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)
[Rarity]
The station building at Leeton is considered rare as one of two examples of a surviving Ac5 type standard precast concrete station building in NSW, the other located at Willow Tree. Over 140 precast concrete buildings were constructed in NSW, and Leeton is one of approximately 24 extant.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The place has representative significance for its collection of railway structures, including the signal box and goods shed, which are representative of similar items that are found in many other railway sites across the state.
Integrity/Intactness: Leeton station building has retained a moderate degree of integrity and intactness, albeit with later extensions. The original form and construction of the building are still evident. The precinct has a low 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.

Listings

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 Study1999SRA292State 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.1992Stations and tracks: Volume 3B: Southern branch lines
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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(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: 4806292


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