Wahroonga Railway Station group | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Wahroonga Railway Station group

Item details

Name of item: Wahroonga Railway Station group
Other name/s: Pearce's Corner; Noonan's Platform
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Location: Lat: -33.7173235507 Long: 151.1167866730
Primary address: North Shore railway, Wahroonga, NSW 2076
Local govt. area: Ku-Ring-Gai
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan

Boundary:

The listing boundary is formed by the Redleaf Ave road bridge to the south, the property boundaries to the east and west and a line across the tracks 20 metres past the northern end of the platform (including the Coonabarra Road footbridge).
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
North Shore railwayWahroongaKu-Ring-Gai  Primary Address
Readleaf AvenueWahroongaKu-Ring-Gai  Alternate Address
Millewa AvenueWahroongaKu-Ring-Gai  Alternate Address
Coonanbarra RoadWahroongaKu-Ring-Gai  Alternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government18 Nov 98

Statement of significance:

Wahroonga station is one of the best island platform buildings on the north shore line. As a group they provide a consistent style of high significance as all are in excellent condition, and display a unity of development rarely seen on the railway system. They are also of interest as they are all island platform structures except for the terminus points such as Lindfield and Gordon where and additional platform is provided. This station contributes an important part as a major transport outlet for residents.
It is sited in a garden setting which was typical of many stations throughout the State and many of which now have largely been removed. This gives the site added significance.
Date significance updated: 29 May 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.

Description

Builder/Maker: E.Pritchard & Co. contractor (first 1890 line)
Construction years: 1890-1910
Physical description: LANDSCAPE
Wahroonga Station is the highest on the north shore railway line at 189.9m above sea level. What is significant about the route is the fact that the topography is steep, rising from near sea level at Kirribilli and Lavender Bay to 623 feet / 189.9m above sea level near Wahroonga (Scobie, 2008, 9).

It is set in a cutting with elevated road and pedestrian bridges over this, connecting Wahroonga to its east and west. The main shopping centre is on its eastern side, flanked by Redleaf Park. The station and its surroundings are a superb example of the early 1900s Sydney suburban railway station architecture and design, set among gardens lovingly tended by the Ku-ring-gai Council and local residents. Until the time of the listing, (1999) the whole of the station platform, building, steps and overhead bridge were virtually unchanged from the time each unit was built.

The landscape includes:
- the whole of the station area as landscape precinct as part of larger landscape precinct in Wahroonga area
- brick walls, 1909
1910s - plantings to platform area and gardens around station area.

Trees (5 Hill's fig trees (Ficus microcarpa var.'Hillii') and some shrubs are planted on the island platform give added importance to the pleasant visual appearance. These have been well cared for by State Rail and council staff. Their presence is unique on this line and unusual in a railway setting due to the difficulty in easy maintenance where road access is not available. They date to the 1910s as evidenced in photographs.

Appropriate shrubs and trees have been planted in the centre line of the platform on both sides of the centrally located building since its earliest days. These are well cared for and add to the stylish setting of the station.

Grounds on the east and west of the tracks are also densely planted with a mixture of native and exotic trees and shrubs. These are maintained by Ku-Ring-Gai Shire Council (City Rail, 2008, 2). There is a dense mixed planting on the eastern side's grounds. This includes the unusual large shrub, horned holly (Ilex cornuta), native cypress/Port Jackson pine (Callitris columellaris), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), a rare rainforest tree, the Davidson plum (Davidsonia pruriens), Camellia japonica cv.s and laurustinus (Viburnum tinus). The western side grounds plantings include a tall swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) and a hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) (Read, Stuart, pers.comm., 6/2008 visit).

BUILDINGS
station building - type 11, initial island/side building brick, 1906

STRUCTURES
- platform faces - brick, 1906
- brick arch overbridge, 1909
- steps - steel fabricated down end, c. 1900
- pedestrian footbridge at North end of station

The station building is representative of a high quality of railway station building which was to be found elsewhere on the north shore railway line, but the environment at Wahroonga places it in a much higher category due to the complementary gardens and trees.

A footbridge across the northern end of the platform (but giving no access to it) leading to and from both sides of the Coonanbarra Road, is unusual for the Sydney suburban area. Plans have been made to construct a set of access stairs from this bridge to the platform.

The overbridge carrying Redleaf Avenue over the line at the southern end consists of concrete arches over each railway track supported by brick piers carrying the road over the railway line and brick abutments on the footpaths above and early example of this construction in Sydney.

The station complements the small shopping centre and office buildings in the surrounding streets on the southern side of the line. Two ticket collecting booths in brick stand at the foot of the Redleaf Avenue stairs dating from the 1930s and are unusual to the north shore line (AHC (from nominators), undated).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Until the time of the listing, the whole of the station platform, building, steps and overhead bridge were virtually unchanged from the time each unit was built.

The spacing of the new trees respects a range of issues including avoiding disturbed sub-platform areas (Scobie, 2008, 3). In early years, Old Milson's Point, Bay Road, St.Leonards, Chatswood, Lindfield, Gordon, Pymble, Turramurra, Wahroonga and Hornsby Stations had goods yards. All but St.Leonards, Chatswood and Hornsby yards had disappeared by the mid-twentieth century, and the latter three did not survive into the late twentieth century (Scobie, 2008, 10).
Date condition updated:14 Jan 09
Modifications and dates: 1890: the first station opened. A short brick faced platform and small timber building stood on the south side of the single line. This was south of a level crossing with then Noonan's Road, later renamed Coonanbarra Road.

c. 1900 steps - steel fabricated down end
1906 platform faces - brick,
c1906 The present building, together with the road bridge over the line and pedestrian steps at Redleaf Avenue was provided about 1906 in anticipation of the double line. The booking/station master's office is located in the platform building at the Sydney end adjacent to two ticket issuing windows. The pedestrian footbridge at Coonanbarra Road was built at this time when the level crossing was closed. Appropriate shrubs and trees have been planted in the centre line of the platform on both sides of the centrally located building since its earliest days (c.1910).

1909 brick arch overbridge

1930s A pair of brick entrance piers were built at the foot of the pedestrian steps with timber covering, similar to Killara's, since demolished.

1982 SRA sealed the platform with bitumen, causing one Hill's fig tree's death and another needed much attention

2001+ Replace and raise height of bridge deck
Current use: Railway Station
Former use: Railway Station

History

Historical notes: The meaning of 'Wahroonga' - an Aboriginal word - is 'our home'.

George Caley (1770-1829) a botanist who had been sent to the colony in 1795 by Sir Joseph Banks from London to collect flora specimens for Kew Gardens, was one of the first white men to explore this bushland area. In 1805 he walked along a cattle path on the ridge towards Fox Valley, near the 640 acres that were later granted to Thomas Hyndes by Governor Darling (1825-31). The north-western part of the grant, known later as Pearce's Corner extended past the present Sydney Adventist Hospital (today this area marks the boundary of three suburbs: Normanhurst, Waitara and Wahroonga) - and honours an early settler whose name was Aaron Pierce. He arrived with his wife in 1811, received a conditional pardon and worked as a timber cutter along the ridge from Kissing Point to the present Pacific Highway (formerly Lane Cove Road). Three tracks converged at this point and Pierce built a hut to house his family and set out an orchard. He was said to reside there by 1831, and the corner was then known as Pierce's Corner). A village developed on the opposite corner (Pearce's Corner Township, later renamed Normanhurst)) around St. Paul's Church (which today is in Wahroonga).

On Hyndes' death the grant was bought by John Brown and became known as Brown's Paddock. When he died in 1881, it was resurveyed and the larger portion became Fox Ground Estate, purchased by a Francis Gerard (Pollen, 1988, 260-2).

The harbour barrier delayed the suburbanisation of the Ku-ring-gai district and in the early 1880s the tiny settlement was judged too small to warrant a railway line. Access to Milsons Point remained difficult although a coach service pliedthat route from 1881 to 1887. By 1885 it was also possible to travel to Sydney via the five bridges road crossing the water at Fig Tree, Gladesville, Iron Cove, Glebe Island and Pyrmont (AHC - indicative place listing - Mahratta Avenue Urban Conservation Area).

Railway and tramway plans for the area were discussed by the authorities in the 1880s (Scobie, 2008, 9).

The single-track North Shore railway line that went from Hornsby to St Leonards in 1890 finally reached Milsons Point in 1893. The North Shore Ferry Company had been carrying passengers from Milsons Point to Circular Quay since the 1860s and by the 1890s around 5 million people crossed the harbour by this means every year. Offering suburban subdivisions along the railway line in advance of the stations, speculators developed Ku-ring-gai well before completion of the North Shore Bridge in 1932 set off another flurry of real estate promotion. Ku-ring-gai grew slowly in the 19th century, its population being 4,000 by 1901. However, over the next two decades its population quadrupled. By this time, with its large residences in beautiful, leafy surrounds, it had changed from a district with a dubious reputation to one that attracted people of high socio-economic status, 73 per cent of whom were home owners.

During the interwar years of 1921 to 1933, the population increased by 45 per cent from 19,209 to 27,931 with a 68 per cent rise in the number of occupied dwellings, the proportion of brick to weatherboard being 5:1. The same sort of increase occurred from 1933 to 1947 when a further 43 per cent of people moved into the district bringing the total population to 39,874 and adding 3,564 houses. Even greater restriction on the use of timber and fibro occurred in this period so that 3,182 of these were brick. Clearly, Ku-ring-gai suffered less in the 1930s depression than other municipalities where development was much slower. Its people also encountered less unemployment - only slightly behind Vaucluse with 16 per cent unemployed, Ku-ring-gai and Mosman registered 18 per cent unemployed in 1933 - although the proportion of owner occupation did fall to 68 per cent
(AHC - indicative place listing - Mahratta Avenue Urban Conservation Area).

When the railway line came through the North Shore from St. Leonards to Hornsby, a station opened in this area on 1/1/1890 and was called Pearce's Corner. The construction name had been Noonan's Platform because the property belonging to Patrick Noonan came within the new railway's boundary. The name was changed to Wahroonga on 30/8/1890 (AHC - indicative place listing - Mahratta Avenue Urban Conservation Area). The section between Hornsby and St. Leonards was built by E.Pritchard & Co. contractor (Scobie, 2008, 9).

The post office opened on 15/10/1896. In 1898 Abbotsleigh School for girls moved to Wahroonga. In 1899 when only 3 houses stood in Fox Valley Road, Wahroonga, the Seventh-Day Adventists purchased land there and erected a large building by 1903. This evolved into 'The San' or Sanitarium hospital (Pollen, 1988, 260-2).

A short brick faced platform and small timber building stood on the south side of the single line. This was south of a level crossing with then Noonan's Road, later renamed Coonanbarra Road. The station name was changed to Wahroonga on 30 October 1890.

24/10/01 Pymble News reported 'trees have been planted on the sides of the station. This work will add immeasurably to the attractions of Wahroonga in the eyes of visitors to the Railway Station.' (Ku-Ring-Gai Historical Society, 2009, 2). These trees were Californian desert fan palms (Washingtonia robusta)(Stuart Read, pers.comm., 2012).

The present station building at Wahroonga, together with the road bridge over the line and pedestrian steps at Redleaf Avenue was provided about 1906 in anticipation of the double line. A duplicated line was completed in May 1909 and the 12 mile section between Hornsby and Milson's Point was opened in early 1910. Island platforms were part of the duplication arrangements (Scobie, 2008, 10). The booking/station master's office is located in the platform building at the Sydney end adjacent to two ticket issuing windows. The pedestrian footbridge at Coonanbarra Road was built at this time when the level crossing was closed.

A new road overbridge was built on the southern end of the platform and this replaced the level crossing at the north of the station. Access to the new island platform was via a set of steps from the new overbridge. Train services continued to be steam-hauled on this line until c.1927 when alterations allowed for electrification of the line between Milson's Point and Hornsby. Automatic colour light signalling was installed between Lindfield and Hornsby (including Wahroonga) on 8 May 1928. Steam trains were withdrawn in July 1928. When the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on 20 March 1932, the North Shore train services connected with the rest of the Sydney suburban railway system (Scobie, 2008, 10-11).

The 1926 Wahroonga Progress Association's Annual Report stated the railway station garden 'for 9 years in succession, with one exception, has gained first prize in the competition for privately maintained railway station gardens' (Ku-Ring-Gai Historical Society, 2009, 2).

A pair of brick entrance piers were built at the foot of the pedestrian steps with timber covering in the mid-1930s, similar to the set at Killara, since demolished.

Possibly in the 1920s or 1930s Hill's fig trees (Ficus microcarpa var.Hillii) were planted on the island platform, replacing the earlier fan palm trees.

Appropriate shrubs and trees have been planted in the centre line of the platform on both sides of the centrally located building since its earliest days. These are well cared for and add to the stylish setting of the station.

The first public school in Wahroonga opened in January 1944. (Pollen, 1988, 260-2).

In early years, Old Milson's Point, Bay Road, St.Leonards, Chatswood, Lindfield, Gordon, Pymble, Turramurra, Wahroonga and Hornsby Stations had goods yards. All but St.Leonards, Chatswood and Hornsby yards had disappeared by the mid-twentieth century, and the latter three did not survive into the late twentieth century (Scobie, 2008, 10).

Grounds on the east and west of the tracks are also densely planted with a mixture of native and exotic trees and shrubs. These are maintained by Hornsby Shire Council (City Rail, 2008, 2).

In 2009 the Hill's fig trees on the platform were replaced with blue berry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus) as the figs' roots were lifting pavement and causing trip and risk hazards. The new trees have a more upright, narrow habit which should suit the constricted corridor between the railway overhead power lines. The platform upgrade include relocation of seats and re-paving of the platform surface (Stuart Read, 2010).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of urban amenity-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of institutions - productive and ornamental-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Significant tree(s) providing urban amenity-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and parklands of distinctive styles-
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 Administering the public railway system-
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 and maintaining the public railway system-
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 Role of transport in settlement-
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 Developing suburbia-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Public Transport - suburban railway lines-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
This item is assessed as historically rare. This item is assessed as arch. rare. This item is assessed as socially 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
HERITAGE ACT 1977
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.

FRANK SARTOR
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

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0128002 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Icons Project Nomination for SHR listing  12 Jul 04   
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register SRA940   
Local Environmental PlanLEP 26 28 Feb 05   
National Trust of Australia register Wahroonga Railway Station941801 Mar 94   
Register of the National Estate - Interim 19944   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA940State Rail Authority  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Wahroonga Railway Station group View detail
WrittenCity Rail, in City Rail Update issue no.62008'Past and present meet the team at Wahroonga' in Station Snapshot, in City Rail Update
WrittenDavid Scobie Architects P/L2008Heritage Impact Statement: Wahroonga Railway Station Platform Restoration, landscape refurbishment and tree replacement
WrittenEarthscape Horticultural Services P/L2009Tree Management Plan - Wahroonga Railway Station, Wahroonga, NSW
WrittenEnvironmental Services Unit, Rail Infrastructure Corporation2001Statement of Heritage Impact: Coonanbarra Road Footbridge, Wahroonga
WrittenHill Thalis Architecture & Urban Projects1994Wahroonga Station Design Guidelines
WrittenPollen, Francis1988The Book of Sydney Suburbs

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012258
File number: 10/11876; S94/01200/1


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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.