Parkes Railway Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Parkes Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Parkes Railway Precinct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: May Street, Parkes, NSW 2870
Parish: Parkes
County: Ashburnham
Local govt. area: Parkes


The listing boundary is Hartigan Avenue and May Street to the north, Forbes Street to the west as it crosses the rails, the southern property boundary to the east the East Street level crossing.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
May StreetParkesParkesParkesAshburnhamPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Parkes Railway Precinct is of state significance as an important major railway junction that is associated with the earliest development of railway infrastructure in the west of NSW in the late 19th century. The precinct features a fine, albeit altered, example of a Victorian station building dating from the opening of the precinct in 1893. The precinct includes a locomotive depot with a partial roundhouse and remains of the former goods yard and a range of items typically found at many large railway complexes in NSW from the late 19th and 20th centuries including the footbridge, jib crane and dock platform, which all contribute to the significance of Parkes as a major railway junction. The Roundhouse is significant as only one of seven surviving structures. The footbridge is notable as the last riveted Warren truss footbridge constructed for the NSW network.
Date significance updated: 22 Jul 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.


Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building - type 4, brick standard roadside third class building (1893) and brick Platform.

MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by John Holland
Railway Refreshment Room - brick (c1928)
Signal Box - type O, elevated fibro (1944)
Roundhouse Precinct (1942) Locomotive Servicing Facilities including Turntable
Goods Shed
Silver City Comet Shed and associated structures

OTHER ITEMS - Managed by John Holland
Dock Platform - remains at western end
Footbridge - steel Warren truss (1935)
Jib Crane

The brick barracks building (c1912), former Railway Institute building (1962) and the repair siding shed are now owned and managed by Pacific National.

The station building is an altered example of an 1893 standard roadside building. Originally the building was a five room gabled building which featured a central waiting room with a Station Master’s office and parcel office to the western side flanked by a shed and lamp room wing, with a ladies and gents waiting room to the east flanked by a bathroom wing. Historic plans show three brick chimneys and gablet vents and a front verandah to the entry which all still exist. Timber finials to gable ends still exist on the original detached wings.

The building underwent alterations in 1926 and further alterations in 1947 which extended the building to either end to incorporate the previous external wings in to the form of the main building and also altering the use of most rooms. The extensions were undertaken in a sympathetic manner including matching windows and an extended platform awning to match the existing. As such the building presents as a cohesive building that still retains its Victorian character.
Interiors and joinery:
Fireplaces and some internal joinery remain in some internal rooms in the main station building. The main waiting room and ticket office however have been largely altered with c.1970-90s interior schemes and finishes which detract from heritage significance.
Some original timber panelled doors remain. Many of exterior doors have been replaced with modern door openings (aluminium and faux-heritage style timber doors).
Most external timber windows appear to be original.

The brick platform dates from 1893 and was extended c1928 and features modern asphalt surfacing. Platform consists of 0-101m concrete cast in situ wall, 101-221m brick from City End. Coping concrete 0-88m, brick remainder.

Other site and landscape features:
Large canopy structure located along eastern section of platform (mid 20th Century)
Railway gate between station building and RRR
Reused rail for fencing
Modern planter boxes along platform (not of heritage value, but are complimentary to typical railway platform furnishings and gardens)
Mature palm trees located in and around station environment
Cast iron lamp base (modern light fitting) along platform
Foot scrapers to RRR

From historic plans it appears prior to the current building being erected on this site, that there were previously two small structures used as temporary Railway Refreshment rooms and accommodation for the staff. In 1923, a 12x 6m marquee built of Birkmyre cloth with framing and flooring was erected as a refreshment room (Forsyth, 2008).
Plans from c1928 show the demolition of the previous structures and the erection of the existing brick building on the same site.
Further historic plans show minor alterations in 1939 and a further extension to the west in 1943. The building is unusual in that it appears to be comprised of two different buildings with a gabled part fronting on to the platform with a cantilevered awning, and a rear kitchen wing with a brick parapet with projecting string course.

Two-storey elevated fibro signal box with low hipped pyramid roof clad in concrete tiles. The signal box is no longer in use.

A steel riveted through Warren truss footbridge on steel trestles and channel iron stair stringers with Kembla markings on steel sections. The existing footbridge replaced an earlier footbridge which had been relocated from Liverpool in 1923. The bridge is noted as the last riveted truss footbridge constructed for the NSW network.

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 in Ladies Waiting Room
Five timber painted platform benches with station name ‘Parkes’ (one with round cast iron legs, four with rolled steel legs)
Exterior electric clock along platform with brass plate (dated 19-3-1940)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
To be confirmed - All structures appear generally to be in good condition.
Date condition updated:19 Jun 09
Modifications and dates: Numerous additions and changes occurred throughout the 20th century including erection of a rest house (1912), wheat silo (1920), Traffic District Headquarters located at Parkes (1920), purchase of existing residences for Station Master and Steam Shed Inspector, (1920 and 1922), conversion of existing Station Master’s residence to railway refreshment room accommodation (1923), new footbridge relocated from Liverpool (1923), erection of temporary railway refreshment rooms (1923), alterations and additions to the station building (c.1927) rail motor shed erected (1927), new railway refreshment rooms opened (1928), relocated footbridge and signal Box (1928) and a new roundhouse built (1928).

Later alterations to the site included a new footbridge (1935), an elevated coal bunker built (1941), roundhouse and facilities enlarged for defence works, including new 360kL tank and stand, boiler plant, water columns, 75’ diameter turntable replacing 60’ (1944), new Institute Building opened (1962), and new goods shed built (1964).
Further information: Note: The type O, elevated, fibro signal box (1944) is managed by ARTC but falls outside the listing boundary.
Current use: Operational railway station managed by RailCorp; roundhouse leased to Silverton
Former use: Railway station, yard, and locomotive facility


Historical notes: Parkes is located on the Broken Hill line which extends from Orange westward to Broken Hill covering vast arid country and continuing on into South Australia. The single line opened from Molong to Orange on 18 December 1893. In 1898, a branch line between Parkes and Condobolin was opened, which ultimately became part of the Orange-Broken Hill line, which was finally completed in 1927.

The station building and goods yard at Parkes opened on 18 December 1893, with a Station Master’s residence and water tank also completed for the opening. Some early additions to the station precinct included erection of a loading bank (1899), grain shed provided (1902), new 60’ turntable to replace existing 50’ turntable (1902) and extended coal stage (1903) (Forsyth, 2009).

With the expectation of a world war in late 1909, there was pressure to construct a 'Federal Line' to provide a more secure route between Victoria and Queensland in order to improve Australia’s defence system. The first section of the Federal line opened from Narromine to Peak Hill on 12 December 1910, followed by the extension from Peak Hill to Parkes on 30 September 1914. By the 1920s, with the opening of further branch lines, Parkes had become a major railway junction for the transport of passengers and produce from many of the rural towns in mid-western NSW (Love, 1997).

Numerous additions and changes occurred within the Parkes railway precinct throughout the 20th century. By the 1970s, with an increase in road transport and decline in rail travel, rail facilities at Parkes began to decline. However, Parkes continues to be one of the major freight interchange points on the NSW network and is an important link for east/west rail operations in Australia. Apart from much of the trans-continental freight it is also used by the Indian Pacific passenger train, and for a weekly passenger train.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 (none)-
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 (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis (none)-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The place has historic significance to demonstrate the late 19th and early 20th century development of the NSW railways as a major junction station that expanded in conjunction with the development of branch lines throughout western NSW. The station building dates from the opening of the line at Parkes in 1893, and along with other related structures has the ability to provide evidence of a late 19th century and early 20th century working railway precinct. The complex of related railway structures at Parkes are significant as evidence of a major junction station which continues to be a key station in the in the NSW network.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The station building is a fine, albeit modified, example of a late Victorian station building with later sympathetic additions that retain the original Victorian character and detailing of the building. The adjoining railway refreshment room dating from 1928 is a good example of a large single storey refreshment room. The two buildings form a coherent group of related railway structures complemented by their large decorative platform awnings.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The social significance of the place has not been formally assessed through community consultation but no specific strong or special social associations within the local community have been identified through the existing evidence.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
No research values have been identified that are not readily found at other similar railway sites in NSW.
SHR Criteria f)
The site has rarity significance as the roundhouse is one of only seven similar structures in NSW, although better examples exist. The footbridge is notable as the last riveted Warren truss footbridge constructed on the NSW network.
SHR Criteria g)
The site has representative significance for its collection of railway structures including the station building, railway refreshment rooms, signal box, footbridge, crane, locomotive depot 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 at other railway sites in NSW.
Integrity/Intactness: The station buildings including the 1920s and 1940s additions have a high 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 Study1999SRA352State Rail Authority  No
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenJohn H Forsyth2008NSW Railway Stations - An Alphabetical Arrangement of Railway Station and Place Names
MapRailCorp RailCorp Historic Plans, various
WrittenRay Love2002A Comparative History of Perway Workshops at Parkes NSW
WrittenRay Love2001Heritage Assessment of Roundhouse at Parkes
WrittenRay Love1997Heritage Assessment of Railway Buildings and Structures at Parkes NSW
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: 4806352

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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