South Maitland Railway Workshops | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


South Maitland Railway Workshops

Item details

Name of item: South Maitland Railway Workshops
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Workshop
Location: Lat: -32.7391353069 Long: 151.5370270270
Primary address: Junction Street, East Greta, NSW 2321
Parish: Maitland
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Maitland
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Mindaribba
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT647 DP1007014
LOT648 DP1007014
LOT1 DP1040209
LOT645 DP862455
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Junction StreetEast GretaMaitlandMaitlandNorthumberlandPrimary Address
 TelarahMaitlandMaitlandNorthumberlandAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Hunter Valley Training Company Pty LtdCommunity Group 

Statement of significance:

South Maitland Railway Workshops is one of the oldest continually operating railway workshops in Australia, documenting more than 70 years (in 1990) of the history, expansion and development of a steam railway;

The South Maitland Railway complex remains largely intact and its extant layout, structures and fabric demonstrate the operation of a steam railway workshops;

As the largest private railway workshops in NSW, the South Maitland Railway complex symbolises the importance of coal mining and steam powered transportation both locally and nationally
(Summary Statement of Significance, Godden Mackay 1990, p.54).
Date significance updated: 07 Apr 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.


Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
No evidence has been found of historical use of the site before the creation of East Greta Junction. Although there have been several stages of construction on the site, these have generally involved building larger and more structures, so that any archaeological evidence of the earlier phases would be underneath the present structures. No evidence has been found of an early use of the present site associated with the Railway Workshops.

The present study area (Alstom Power site) lies outside the area covered by the PCO (SHR) and no previous use of this land suggests a significant association with the workshops. The elements of the previous land use comprise fences and dirt tracks. All associated infrastructure such as building, sheds, and animal enclosures are located on the subject land constitute significant items of European heritage under the terms of the NSW Heritage Act 1977. Field survey found there is no likelihood of buried or potentially significant archaeological deposit on the subject land. The proposed use of the land is for open surface storage, with no impact on the surrounding structures. This would have minimal impact on subsurface deposits, and therefore no further archaeological investigation is recommended. (Dallas, 2000).
Date condition updated:07 Apr 06
Current use: museum use
Former use: rail related uses, storage, vocational training centre


Historical notes: 1842-1893: Land grant & pastoral use
The subject land was part of an 1842 grant to Thomas Winder, bought in 1884 by Albert Simpson. Exploration for coal in the area around Newcastle was underway in the 1840s. Commercial mining in the Maitland district began at Greta Coalfield in the 1860s, then at East Greta in 1869, with a second mine here in 1898. Other mines were then opened in the vicinity. The coal was first transported to Maitland by horse and cart. (Dallas, 2000).

1891-1918: Coal mining, Railway companies & workshops
The original East Greta Coal Mining Co. was established (by the same syndicate operating the mine) in 1891. One of its first actions was to build a railway from East Greta No. 1 Colliery to the Great Northern Railway. This was opened in 1893. The line was later extended to other mines in the area. A branch from Aberdare to Cessnock was opened in 1904. Passengers and goods, as well as coal, were transported on the line between Stanford Merthyr and East Greta Junction, in order to connect the colliery communities with Maitland. This service began in 1902, and at first passengers had to make their own way between the junction and West Maitland (later Maitland). In 1903 the service was extended to West Maitland. South Maitland Railways ceased operating the passenger trains in 1967, and NSW GR ceased operation of trains on the line in 1972.(Dallas, 2000).

In 1918 the South Maitland Railway Company was formed, amalgamating the East Greta Coal Mining Co. and the Aberdare Railway (which had been based at East Greta until its locomotive workshops were relocated to Telarah in 1912). East Greta Junction was created where the colliery line joined the Great Northern Railway. It consisted at first of a small loop siding to transfer wagons between the two lines. However the extension of the private railway meant that this was inadequate, and more loop sidings had been constructed by 1903. (Dallas, 2000).

Construction of workshops on the site began in about 1904, when a locomotive depot was built by the East Greta Coal Mining Company. This was a two road engine shed, and was demolished in 1912 to be replaced by a four track galvanised iron shed. This was in turn demolished to make way for a larger locomotive depot, built in 1981. The present workshop was constructed some time between 1912 and 1918. On the site by 1918 were also a sand drying shed, a locomotive battery shed, and a signing-on cabin. A coal loader and an addition to the main workshop were built in 1927. Goods sheds from Caledonia and Weston Stations were moved to the site in 1930 to serve as an oil store and a lunch room. A bath house was built in 1943. In 1957 a toilet block, a machine shop and stores building, and a new signing-on cabin were built. The old battery store was demolished. In 1981 a new sand house and battery shed were built (Dallas, 2000).

The original Mount Dee homestead on top of the hill became offices, and the first new building was the large Erecting & Repair Workshop. As operations expanded in the 1920s most of the infrastructure was established, with brick buildings added in the 1950s and the last replacement steel framed Running Shed built in 1981.

1967 takeover; 1984 closure; 1986+ adaptive reuse for education, heavy industry
Coal & Allied Industries took over the company and its railway and loco repair depot at East Greta Junction. With changes in the coal industry the workshops closed in 1984, but the railway continued to operate.

In 1986 the Hunter Valley Training Co. bought the site and reopened the workshops as an apprentice training centre after rehabilitation. By 1990 the subject site was leased to GEC Alstom Australia P/L. The present complex was opened in 1991 and since the site has been used for heavy industry.

In 2015 three workshop buildings were leased to the Maitland Rail Museum for museum use. Discussion is underway over a fourth: the former Blacksmith's Shop being leased by the Maitland Rail Museum also (Sheedy, pers.comm., 22/9/2015).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Mining for coal-
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 the railway network-
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 Rail transport-
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-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working complex machinery and technologies-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in the public service-
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. State government-
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. Developing roles for government - building and administering rail networks-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Record converted from HIS events
Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material:
(2) The minor repair of the building where minor repair means the repair of materials by patching, piercing-in, splicing and consolidating existing materials and including minor replacement of minor components such as individual bricks, timber sections and cladding where these have been damaged beyond reasonable repair or are missing. The replacement should be of the same material, colour, texture, form and design as the original it replaces and the number of components it replaced should be substantially less than existing.
(3) Garden maintenance including cultivation, pruning, weed control, repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates and garden walls, and tree surgery but not extensive lopping.
(4) Eradication of noxious plants and animals.
(5) Maintenance and repair of existing access to roads.
(6) The engaging in or carrying out of any of the activities referred to in subsection 57 (1) of the Heritage Act 1977, by any public authority in respect of the repair, maintenance and construction of service infrastructure.
Jan 19 1990
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 0062702 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0062719 Jan 90 11468
Local Environmental Plan 22803 Sep 93   
Register of the National Estate - Interim 10634   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenArchives and Special Collections Unit, Information Resources Program, Information and Education Services Division, University of Newcastle1998South Maitland railways archives : a researchers' guide
WrittenDon Godden. Author: Godden, Don.; Series Title: National Estate Program 1983/84, Project ; 311985South Maitland railways : technology and operations
WrittenGodden Mackay Pty Ltd.1990South Maitland railway workshop : conservation plan
WrittenHunter Valley Training Co. P/L Author: Hunter Valley Training Co. Pty. Ltd.; Series Title:1989South Maitland railway workshop conservation
WrittenHunter Valley Training Company Pty Ltd.1995South Maitland railway coal loader, Telarah restoration stage I
WrittenMalcolm Lindsay1982The South Maitland Railways Steam Locomotive Workshop
WrittenMary Dallas Consulting Archaeologists2000Statement of European heritage impact - Letter re Alstom Power/Hunter Valley Training Company Property: 78 Junction St., Telarah
WrittenSheedy, David in association with Robert Driver2004The former South Maitland railway workshops : heritage management strategy

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045660
File number: S90/01828

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