Pyrmont and Glebe Railway Tunnels | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Pyrmont and Glebe Railway Tunnels

Item details

Name of item: Pyrmont and Glebe Railway Tunnels
Other name/s: Metro Light Rail
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Tunnel
Location: Lat: -33.8770259311 Long: 151.1863893760
Primary address: Metropolitan goods railway, Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan


The listing boundary is formed by the property boundary on either side of the line from the tunnel entrance on the Sydney side including the portals, embankments and cutting and extends to the Wentworth Park viaduct and includes the whole formation of the line.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Metropolitan goods railwayPyrmontSydney  Primary Address
Metropolitan goods railwayGlebeSydney  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government22 Oct 98

Statement of significance:

The brick tunnel and cuttings are a major feature of the landscape and layout of the Pyrmont area and have a great impact on the visual qualities of the area. They are important relics of the inner city freight system that operated to the wharves, including Darling Harbour, and connected through to the southern suburbs. The tunnel and its portals is an important brick structure that reflects the industrial nature of the area. The tunnel is a fairly long double-track brick-lined structure opened in 1922. As the line has not been electrified the structure remains virtually intact.
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: STRUCTURES
tunnel, double line, 1922
cuttings and track formation


Historical notes: The Leichhardt area was originally inhabited by the Wangal clan of Aborigines. After 1788 diseases such as smallpox and the loss of their hunting grounds caused huge reductions in their numbers and they moved further inland. Since European settlement the foreshores of Blackwattle Bay and Rozelle Bay have developed a unique maritime, industrial and residential character - a character which continues to evolve as areas which were originally residential estates, then industrial areas, are redeveloped for residential units and parklands.

The fist formal grant in the Glebe area was a 400 acre grant to Rev.Richard Johnson, the colony's first chaplain, in 1789. The Glebe (land allocated for the maintenance of a church minister) comprised rolling shale hills covering sandstone, with several sandstone cliff faces. The ridges were drained by several creeks including Blackwattle Creek, Orphan School Creek and Johnston Creek. Extensive swampland surrounded the creeks. On the shale ridges, heavily timbered woodlands contained several varieties of eucalypts while the swamplands and tidal mudflats had mangroves, swamp oaks (Casuarina glauca) and blackwattles (Callicoma serratifolia) after which the bay is named. Blackwattle Swamp was first mentioned by surveyors in the 1790s and Blackwattle Swamp Bay in 1807. By 1840 it was called Blackwattle Bay. Boat parties collected wattles and reeds for the building of huts, and kangaroos and emus were hunted by the early settlers who called the area the Kangaroo Ground. Rozelle Bay is thought to have been named after a schooner which once moored in its waters.

Johnson's land remained largely undeveloped until 1828, when the Church and School Corporation subdivided it into 28 lots, 3 of which they retained for church use (City Plan Heritage, 2005, quoting Max Solling & Peter Reynolds 'Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City', 1997, 14).

The Church sold 27 allotments in 1828 - north on the point and south around Broadway. The Church kept the middle section where the Glebe Estate is now. On the point the sea breezes attracted the wealthy who built villas. The Broadway end attracted slaughterhouses and boiling down works that used the creek draining to Blackwattle Swamp.

Up until the 1970s the Glebe Estate was in the possession of the Church.

On the point the sea breezes attracted the wealthy who built villas. The Broadway end attracted slaughterhouses and boiling down works that used the creek draining to Blackwattle Swamp. Smaller working-class houses were built around these industries. Abbattoirs were built there from the 1860s.

When Glebe was made a municipality in 1859 there were pro and anti-municipal clashes in the streets. From 1850 Glebe was dominated by wealthier interests.

Reclaiming the swamp, Wentworth Park opened in 1882 as a cricket ground and lawn bowls club. Rugby Union was played there in the late 19th century. The dog racing started in 1932. In the early 20th century modest villas were broken up into boarding houses as they were elsewhere in the inner city areas. The wealthier moved into the suburbs which were opening up through the railways. Up until the 1950s Sydney was the location for working class employment - it was a port and industrial city. By the 1960s central Sydney was becoming a corporate city with service-based industries - capital intensive not labour intensive. A shift in demographics occurred, with younger professionals and technical and administrative people servicing the corporate city wanting to live close by. Housing was coming under threat and the heritage conservation movement was starting. The Fish Markets moved in in the 1970s. A influx of students came to Glebe in the 1960s and 1970s. (Dr Lisa Murray, in Central Sydney, 5/8/2009).

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)-
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 Engineering the public railway system-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria f)
This item is assessed as historically rare. This item is assessed as scientifically rare. This item is assessed as arch. rare.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0122502 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5011985
File number: H04/00260

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