Broken Hill Railway Precinct | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Broken Hill Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Broken Hill Railway Precinct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Crystal Street, Broken Hill, NSW 2880
County: Yancowinna
Local govt. area: Broken Hill


The listing boundary is the western property boundary fronting Crystal St, the Iodide St level crossing to the north, the railway property boundary to the south and the yard to a point opposite the end of Bromide St to the south. Please note this site is listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR) for which the curtilage differs – see image gallery for more information. This site sits within a local Heritage Conservation Area (refer to LEP for details).
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Crystal StreetBroken HillBroken Hill YancowinnaPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The state significant Broken Hill Railway Precinct has historical significance as the final link in the standard gauge railway from the east to west coast of Australia. The railway precinct is also historically significant as the main source of the town's water supply for over 40 years. The place includes two station buildings from different periods that demonstrate the changes in railway design during the 20th century. The original 1919 precast concrete drop panel building was one of the first station buildings of this design constructed in NSW. The second (1957) station building is an excellent example of modern railway architecture incorporating elements of the Interwar Functionalist and postwar International styles, and is a rare example of a station building of this scale constructed after WWII.
Date significance updated: 19 Jun 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
Station Building - type 15, current station, brick steel and glass (1957) and Platform - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building - type 12 (Ac4++), old station, precast concrete (1919) - Managed by ARTC

The new Broken Hill station building presents as a modern building, incorporating stylistic elements of the Interwar Functionalist and post-war International styles. The face brick building presents as a long horizontal two-storey building to the street front, and a single storey building to the platform. The street front entrance to the station is defined by a large set of steps and a sweeping curved awning supported on slender steel columns. The skillion roof has a low pitch and extends to form the platform awning. Fenestration comprises large horizontally proportioned aluminium framed windows. The building is surmounted by a horizontal clock tower featuring four steel finials. There are also two large murals painted on the lower storey of the street façade depicting two locomotives.

The building was extended at either end in 1969, to increase facilities at the station to coincide with the standard gauge rail link which opened from Broken Hill to Port Pirie on 17 January 1970. The new additions have largely altered the streamline form of the original building and the platform façade has been rendered.

Interiors and joinery
Despite alterations and additions, the station retains a high-level of integrity in terms of original joinery and finishes including ceiling cornices, aluminium and timber entrance doors, entrance floor tiling, coloured bathroom tiling (blue in ladies, yellow in mens), cabinets in parcels office. The station has an early air-conditioning unit which requires further research and investigation.

Platforms are concrete.

Precast concrete drop panel building with gabled roof extending to form platform awning. The original (1919) station building at Broken Hill was amongst the first ten precast concrete station buildings constructed in NSW up until July 1919, and remains one of two extant precast concrete station buildings that opened in July 1919 (the precast concrete station building at Mackville opened 14 days earlier than the station at Broken Hill) (Longworth, 2005).

Large ‘Broken Hill’ station platform sign
Large clock face and four flag poles on station building facing street
Round light fittings located along platform walls
Large painted murals on station building facing street
Decorative lamp posts along street frontage
Crazy-paving stone walls
Timber retaining walls
Gardens on yard side of track (managed by ARTC with trikes on display)

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:
Nine x timber platform seats along platform with ‘Broken Hill’ station name
Three x timber platform seats with ‘Broken Hill’ station name in storage in parcels office
Large parcels office bench with metal screens and stainless steel bench
SRA round clock in parcels office
Collection of ticket/ parcels stamps in parcels office
Safe in parcels office
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The 1957 Station Building is in good condition. The former 1919 Station Building is in poor condition.
Date condition updated:19 Jun 09
Modifications and dates: Hazmat Remediation - August 2016
Further information: Other Items Not in Curtilage:
Gantry Crane
Perway Buildings
Large specially designed brick complex containing the former signals & electrical branch offices and amenities garages stores.
Detached brick Electrical Store and workshop building
Large 'klip lock' type steel clad gable garage.
Small-corrugated steel clad skillion roof store.
Landscaping to the railway side of the site and trees to the east side.
Two track inspection vehicles with trailers
Current use: Remains an operational railway precinct; the former railway station building not in use (closed c1969)
Former use: Passenger railway station for Broken Hill, terminus of the standard gauge railway line from Sydney.


Historical notes: The first rail link to Broken Hill was from South Australia (completed in 1888). As the NSW and South Australian governments had refused to complete the narrow gauge link across the border from South Australia, the privately owned Silverton Tramway Company constructed the 56 km link from Cockburn in South Australia to Broken Hill to enable the transport of ore from the Broken Hill mines to the smelters at Port Pirie in South Australia; and to allow the transportation of materials from South Australia for use at the mines in Broken Hill (National Railway Museum, 2009)

The original station for the Silverton Tramway was located in Sulphide Street in Broken Hill and is now a museum.

On 15 July 1919, a 4’ 8½” (1435 mm) standard gauge rail link constructed by the NSW Public Works Department was opened from Broken Hill to Menindee. The rolling stock and building supplies for the line all had to be transported by sea to South Australia.

As Broken Hill did not have a reliable water supply for the town and mines, the new line was initially used primarily for the haulage of water wagons from the Darling River at Menindee until a water pipeline was established in 1960. During the drought years of 1944-46, 1085 rail journeys were made between Broken Hill and Menindee (Shire of Central Darling Council).

The new train station opened in 1919 and was located at Crystal Street, some distance from the Silverton Tramway's Sulphide Street station. The new station building is noted to be amongst the first use of precast concrete drop panel construction for a station building, which became a standard railway construction method particularly throughout the 1920s. Approximately 140 precast drop-panel concrete station buildings were constructed in regional NSW between 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 featured five rooms in a U-shape form with front verandah. The station building at Broken Hill was the Ac4++ design. The standard designs were later reissued as Pc1- Pc3 in c1925 (Longworth, 2005).

The single line from Ivanhoe to Menindee opened on 7 November 1927, finally completing the Sydney to Broken Hill rail link, with Orange to Broken Hill the longest branch line in the state.

On 29 May 1957, a new station platform and station building were opened at the present station site. Very few stations of this scale were constructed in NSW during this period. The station building underwent a series of alterations in 1969 to coincide with the introduction of the standard gauge rail link which opened from Broken Hill to Port Pirie on 17 January 1970.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 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 settlement-
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]
The railway precinct at Broken Hill has historic significance as the main source of Broken Hill's water supply for more then 40 years, prior to the construction of a pipeline providing a regular water supply. The site is also significant as the final link in the standard gauge railway that eventually linked the east and west coasts of Australia. The site is significant for its ability to demonstrate the Interwar development of the Western line and as the location of two station buildings from different periods that demonstrate changes in railway design during the 20th century. The original 1919 precast concrete drop panel building was one of the first ten precast concrete station buildings in NSW and remains one of two extant precast concrete station buildings in NSW dating from July 1919. Precast concrete construction became a standard railway construction method throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The 1957 station building has aesthetic significance as an excellent example of modern railway architecture incorporating elements of the Interwar Functionalist and Post-war International styles. The 1919 building is significant as an example of a standard Interwar period railway building.
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 1957 station building is a rare example of a station building of this scale constructed since WWII.
SHR Criteria g)
The site has representative significance, demonstrating widespread 20th century railway customs, activities and design in NSW. The 1919 station building is representative of the 1920s standard precast concrete drop slab station buildings introduced for country lines in NSW.
Integrity/Intactness: The Station Buildings have a moderate 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     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA348State 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
WrittenCottee, J.M.2004Stations on the track: selected New South Wales country railway stations: an historical overview
WrittenDavid Sheedy2001Broken Hill Station SHI Form
WrittenJohn H Forsyth2008NSW Railway Stations - An Alphabetical Arrangement of Railway Station and Place Names
WrittenLongworth, Jim2005NSW Precast Concrete Station Buildings, ARH, v.56, n.811 (May)
MapRailCorp RailCorp Historic Plans, various
WrittenState Rail Authority of NSW1993How 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: 4806348

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.

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