Stanwell Park Rail Viaduct over Stanwell Creek | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Stanwell Park Rail Viaduct over Stanwell Creek

Item details

Name of item: Stanwell Park Rail Viaduct over Stanwell Creek
Other name/s: Stanwell Creek Viaduct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Location: Lat: -34.2303100985 Long: 150.9738176760
Primary address: Illawarra railway 56.727 kms, Stanwell Park, NSW 2508
Local govt. area: Wollongong City
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Illawarra

Boundary:

North: 5m beyond rear of abutment South: 5m beyond rear of abutment East: RailCorp property boundary West: RailCorp property boundary
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Illawarra railway 56.727 kmsStanwell ParkWollongong City  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government16 Nov 98

Statement of significance:

This viaduct is one of the most impressive bridge structures in Australia. Its significance to New South Wales is due to it being a major item of infrastructure for the historically important duplication of the Illawarra Railway, its imposing stature high above the creek bed (albeit hidden by trees and bush, its contribution to the enormous social and commercial benefits that railway duplication brought to the Wollongong and Illawarra Regions and the technical skills of building it 'up there' and to suit a sharp radius curve. It was the crowning achievement of the 'brick arch era' 1910-24 of railway construction in New South Wales. It is the only one of its type and scale in Australia and retains its significance even though emergency work to save it, compromised its integrity.
Date significance updated: 17 Mar 06
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

Designer/Maker: Engineering staff, New South Wales Government Railways
Builder/Maker: Day labour
Construction years: 1920-1920
Physical description: A curved brick arch viaduct consisting of 8 x 13.1 m (43 feet) clear spans on tall brick piers.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Currently in a stable condition, see Modifications.
Date condition updated:17 Mar 06
Modifications and dates: In late 1985, some of the brick arches were on the verge of collapse caused by ground movements associated with the Escarpment and coal mining. The problem was arrested but span 6 was demolished and replaced by a “floating” steel girder so the remaining two parts of the brick arch viaduct could be monitored and plans made for repairs.

In 1992 repairs began under single line working. The closed track was taken up and all material on top of the arches removed then replaced by concrete with embedded layers of reinforcing mesh. Arch action was essentially eliminated.

The track was replaced on a waterproof base and the process repeated for the other track. Work was completed in October 1993 but the steel girder in span 6 remains while long-term monitoring continues.
Current use: Carries the double track Illawarra Railway
Former use: natural environment, Aboriginal use

History

Historical notes: The original Illawarra Railway of the 1880s had a difficult transition from the high country near the top of the Escarpment down to the coastal plain north of Wollongong. It involved steep grades and eight tunnels between Waterfall and Scarborough. The worst was the 'suffocating' Otford Tunnel, the steepest and longest, which emerged into the lower levels of the Stanwell Park amphitheatre.

Plans began around 1910 for duplicating the line with deviations to ease grades and to bypass the old single line tunnels. The section from Waterfall to Helensburgh was completed in 1914, then to Otford in 1915 and on to Coal Cliff in 1920. The last section stayed much higher up in the Stanwell Park amphitheatre hence its crossing high above Stanwell Creek.

Plans for the tall, double track, brick arch viaduct were ready in 1917 and work began the next year. It was a remarkable effort to complete this major structure in a little over two years.

Brick arches were the automatic choice because steel was unavailable due to World War I and the State Brickworks at Homebush was in full production. It was still part of the 'brick arch era' 1910-24.

It has been estimated that the total number of bricks used in the massive tall piers, the tallest 110 feet high, and the eight arches was around 3 million, enough to build about 150 brick houses.

The viaduct remained in good condition until 1985 when the arches were found to be on the verge of collapse. The remedial work has been briefly described earlier under Modifications.

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-
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-
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 Development in response to railway lines-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to tourist-
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 Evolution of railway towns-
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 Impacts of railways on natural environment-
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 Impacts of railways on rural development-
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 19th Century Infrastructure-
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 towns in response to topography-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Stanwell Creek railway viaduct was the major bridge of the duplication and deviations works on the Illawarra Line 1910-20 between Waterfall and Scarborough. At Stanwell Park, the work kept the new double track line high up in the natural amphitheatre which in turn required a high level crossing of Stanwell Creek.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The structure is one of the most impressive bridge structures in Australia, eight brick arches sweeping round a sharp railway curve atop brick piers that reach 110 feet above the creek bed.

Unfortunately, the view has been lost by the uncontrolled growth of trees and bushland. Only archival photographs give justice to this imposing work.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The duplication and deviation work on the Illawarra Railway brought enormous social and commercial benefits to the Illawarra Region, which were only achieved through major engineering works such as the Stanwell Creek Viaduct and the five new double track tunnels.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Constructing the high level Stanwell Creek Viaduct involved two important technical items, building it 110 feet above the creek bed and laying the bricks for the arches on a sharp railway curve.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
This is only brick arch viaduct of its type and size in Australia.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The viaduct is an excellent example of brick arch construction with the added challenges of height and curvature.
Integrity/Intactness: Major modifications (mainly internal) and the loss of arch span 6, all necessary to save the structure from collapse, have compromised the integrity of the viaduct. However, if long term stability is confirmed, the Rail Authority may consider rebuilding arch span 6.
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 0105402 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Regional Environmental PlanIllawarra REP No.1 11 Apr 86   
Local Environmental Plan 199028 Dec 90 18311551

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Rail Infrastructure Corporation s.170 Register2003 Rail Infrastructure Corporation  Yes

References, internet links & images

None

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: 5045493


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.