Grafton City Railway Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Grafton City Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Grafton City Railway Precinct
Other name/s: South Grafton Railway Station
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: , South Grafton, NSW 2461
Local govt. area: Unknown


All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 South GraftonUnknown  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Grafton City Railway Precinct is of State historic significance as a former major railway administrative centre for the North Coast. The extant refreshment rooms is a unique structure on the NSW rail system built for the movement of troops during World War II and remains as an important reminder of the site’s role in the Australian war effort and the role played by rail in moving troops around the country. The extant barracks building is representative of a series of similar barracks buildings constructed throughout the NSW railway system for train crews to rest between shifts. The office block demonstrates the former administrative role of the site. Overall, the significance of the railway precinct has been compromised by modern buildings, the demolition of the extensive locomotive servicing depot and all other original buildings.
Date significance updated: 04 Oct 13
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: 1943-
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Refreshment Room (c.1943)
Barracks (c.1943)
Station Building (c.1993)

Former Office Block

OTHER ITEMS - Managed by RailCorp
Train Crew Amenities (modern)
Shed (modern)
Fuelling Shelter (modern)
Fuel Pumphouse (modern)
Waste Compound (modern)

A large covered open dining hall area book-ended by a weatherboard kitchen and storeroom. The kitchen is a simple gable roofed building clad in corrugated iron and featuring timber double-hung windows, small rear porch and a simple verandah supported by timber posts fronting on to the platform. The storeroom is located under the gable roof of the dining hall and clad in weatherboard.

BARRACKS (c.1943)
Single-storey brick building constructed as two separate wings with a hipped tiled roof, simple decorative brickwork banding. The barracks features a series of bedroom and bathroom facilities, with a secondary wing featuring a kitchen and dining area.

Large brick building with hipped roof forming platform awning and bus depot. Excluded from listing.

OTHER ITEMS (modern)
Various other modern buildings within yard constructed of sheet metal or concrete block. Excluded from listing.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The buildings are generally in good condition. Building reports from 2003 note termite damage to the kitchen facilities within the RRR.
Date condition updated:27 Nov 09
Modifications and dates: c.1993: New station building replacing previous. Original RRR demolished.
2015: Station Refresh Works – Minor essential repair works across the station (fencing, coping/tactiles, grouting, gutters, downpipes, flashing, leaks, conduits, lighting, interior modern flooring, platform surface, tactiles, bird proofing, redundant services/fixings, metal work, glazing, mouldings, brick joints, timberworks (using like for like materials and matching profiles); Deep cleaning of all non-historic surfaces; Minor garden and tree maintenance/repairs; Replacement of modern platform seating and bins; Painting (like for like overcoating); Installation/replacement of strip lighting to LED; Refurbishment of modern elements of public toilet facilities.
Current use: Operational railway station


Historical notes: Grafton City Railway Station is located on the North Coast line, the major trunk line from NSW to Queensland. Although originally constructed as an isolated line from Lismore to Murwillumbah in 1894, the importance of connecting the North Coast to the general railway system led to the extension of the line southward to Maitland in 1903. Railway construction in the area continued over the next eleven years and by 1905, an isolated railway system was in service, joining Grafton on the north bank of the Clarence River to Casino, through Lismore and on to Murwillumbah. In 1930 the line was connected to the Queensland railway system at South Brisbane (Cottee, 2004).

The single line from Glenreagh to South Grafton opened on 12 October 1915. The Glenreagh to South Grafton section was constructed by the Public Works Department, with work commencing on 23 April 1911. The station opened as ‘South Grafton’ on 12 October 1915, and was renamed ‘Grafton City’ on 1 October 1976. Another station had opened as ‘Grafton’ north of the river in 1905 and was closed in the 1970s.

Major changes and early additions to the South Grafton station precinct included the construction of a through-type engine shed in 1908, the opening of a roundhouse depot in 1915 and a Refreshments Room in 1923, and the construction of a Rest House, a railway wharf, and the replacement of the 15.2m turntable with an 18.2m turntable in 1925 (Forsyth, 2009).

Historic plans dating to 1919 show a U-shaped concrete drop-slab station building, a signal box, cream shed, lamp room and toilet block, and a goods shed and platform. Plans from 1928 show the removal of the lamp room and toilet block, and the addition of new toilet facilities. Further changes to the site are shown in plans from c.1943 which shows the addition of large Railway District offices, a new barracks building, and the extension of the Refreshments Room with the addition of a large shelter and kitchen facilities on the platform for World War II troops (RailCorp Historic Plans).

The station was largely upgraded in c.1993 with a large new brick station building, replacing the earlier concrete building. The earlier RRR facilities have also since been removed with a modern Train Crewing Building on their previous site.

The 1990s station building and the 1940s refreshment facilities and barracks building remain in RailCorp ownership. Other items include the Railway District Offices managed by ARTC.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods Railway Workshops-
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-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Transporting troops and equipment-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Railway administration-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The place is of historical significance as a major railway administrative centre for the North Coast with operational, per way and signals headquarters and a former extensive locomotive servicing depot and turntable. Much of the former depot and yard area has however been reduced.

The extant refreshment rooms dating from c.1943 are a reminder of the sites important role in the Australian war effort and the role played by rail in moving troops around the country.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The buildings have limited architectural value due to their utilitarian nature and successive alterations. The setting of the railway precinct has been compromised by the demolition of most original buildings and the addition of modern structures.
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 refreshment room is a unique structure on the rail system and was a purpose made building for the movement of troops during World War II.
SHR Criteria g)
The barracks building is representative of a series of similar barracks buildings constructed throughout the NSW railway system for train crews to rest between shifts. The barracks are similar and contemporary to the barracks buildings at Casino.
Integrity/Intactness: The extant station buildings have a moderate level of integrity. The integrity of the overall group has been diminished with the loss of the former station building, yard and depot facilities.
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 registerSRA s.170 Register    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999 State Rail Authority  No
S170 Register Update Project2009 ARTC/ ORH  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCottee, J.M2004Stations on the track: selected New South Wales country railway stations: an historical overview
WrittenMcKillop, R2009NSW Railways (RailCorp) Thematic History

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: 4806791

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