Woy Woy Railway Tunnel | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Woy Woy Railway Tunnel

Item details

Name of item: Woy Woy Railway Tunnel
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Tunnel
Location: Lat: -33.49062352 Long: 151.28163215
Primary address: Woy Woy Road, Woy Woy, NSW 2256
Local govt. area: Gosford
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Darkinjung
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT105 DP1184403
PART LOT106 DP1184501

Boundary:

North: 10m from the end of the northern (Down) cuttings approaching the tunnel portal; South: 10m from the end of the southern (Up) cuttings approaching the tunnel portal; East: the outside of the eastern wall of the tunnel; West: the outside of the eastern wall of the tunnel.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Woy Woy RoadWoy WoyGosford  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Woy Woy Railway Tunnel has historic significance, as at the time of its construction it was the longest tunnel in Australia and was recognised as one of two major engineering feats on the Short North line, the other being the Hawkesbury River Rail Bridge. The tunnel has associations with the linking of Sydney and Newcastle by rail and remains an essential component of this stretch of line.

The tunnel has aesthetic significance as it provides a powerful aesthetic break in the rail journey between Sydney and the Central Coast separating the rugged beauty along Mullet Creek from the flat urban sprawl of Woy Woy and Gosford. Along with other tunnels on the Short North line it adds to the aesthetic significance of the line as a whole with its man made engineering elements contrasting with the natural surrounds of the Hawkesbury River region, demonstrating the skills and technology available at the time of construction and a high degree of engineering achievement in building a railway line in difficult terrain.
Date significance updated: 13 Nov 09
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: E-in-C John Whitton's office
Builder/Maker: George Blunt
Construction years: 1884-1888
Physical description: TUNNEL (1886)
Woy Woy Tunnel is a 1.79km long double track railway tunnel passing beneath a sandstone bridge between Brisbane Water and Mullet Creek, NSW. The tunnel is of brick construction throughout. The tunnel was originally built for double track service and thus did not require widening when the line was duplicated in 1906. The brick portals feature a brick string course, but are otherwise plain. The tunnel is horseshoe shaped, straight and has an average 1 in 150 gradient. There is a long cutting in bedrock leading to both portals.

There are a number of small tunnels cut into the rock above the railway tunnel. It is not clear if they were associated with the construction of the tunnel or other mining activity in the area.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
1886 Tunnel - Good
Date condition updated:17 Oct 12
Modifications and dates: 1960: Electrification through the tunnel, provision of overhead catenary and contact wire, with associated hardware.
1960s: Various track upgrading carried out within the tunnel.
late 1980s: Installation of a new road bed, drainage, concrete sleepers and heavy ballast. Also in the 1980s, the planned use of certain designs double-deck electric rollingstock on the Sydney-Newcastle corridor resulted in a layer of brickwork being removed from the interior bore of the tunnel for its entire length, allowing the track centres to be slightly increased. (This modification was carried out to all Hawkesbury River tunnels at the same time).
N.d: Lighting has been added to the walls of the tunnel for use in an emergency or during maintenance work.
Further information: Although outside of the listing boundary, the nearby archaeological remains of the navvy camp near the Mullet Creek portal has considerable potential to inform our understanding of the working lives of railway construction workers. Archaeological remains of railway workers camps on the scale likely to remain at the Woy Woy tunnel are rare in NSW.
Current use: Railway tunnel
Former use: Nil

History

Historical notes: The Main Northern line between Sydney and Newcastle was constructed in two distinct stages and in the earliest years, was worked as two separate railway systems.

The line between Sydney (actually the junction at Strathfield) and the Hawkesbury River was opened on 5 April 1887, with the terminus being on the southern bank of the Hawkesbury River. The line between Newcastle and the northern bank of the Hawkesbury River (near present day Wondabyne) was opened in January 1888. The line was completed through between Sydney and Newcastle with the opening of the massive bridge over the Hawkesbury River in 1889.

Woy Woy Railway Station is located on the Main Northern line, approximately mid-way between Gosford and the Hawkesbury River. Woy Woy Railway Tunnel was built approximately 3.2km (two miles) south of Woy Woy Railway Station.

Woy Woy Railway Tunnel was, for many years, the longest tunnel in Australia. The tunnel was (and is) an essential part of the Main Northern line linking Newcastle with the Hawkesbury River. The Gosford / Woy Woy area is located near a waterway known as ‘Brisbane Water’, whereas the new rail bridge at Hawkesbury River is approached from the north side by a waterway known as ‘Mullet Creek’. A sandstone ridge, more than 120 metres (360 feet) above the planned level of the railway formation between the Brisbane Water and Mullet creek, formed a large natural barrier to railway construction. A lengthy tunnel through the ridge was required to allow construction of the railway to continue towards the Hawkesbury River.

Contractor George Blunt commenced work on the tunnel in March 1884. The tunnel was built to accommodate future duplication, although this section was not duplicated until 1906. During construction, a tramway was built between Brisbane Water (at Woy Woy) and the site of the tunnel (2.5 miles, 4km) to convey materials which had been landed at Woy Woy by boat.

The tunnel proved to be a massive undertakingm requiring 123, 354 cubic yards of excavation,
10, 000, 000 bricks, and 10, 000 casks of cement. More than 800 men worked on the construction of the tunnel. During the building of the tunnel a railway camp school for the children of workers was established, opening in August 1884, and closing in March 1888 upon completion of all works.

The tunnel was opened at a ceremony on 17 July 1886, some 18 months before the opening of the line to Mullet Creek.

When opened, the single line ran south through the new tunnel to a temporary railhead at Mullet Creek. From here passengers boarded a stern-wheel paddle steamer to take them across the Hawkesbury River to the southern railhead, however this arrangement ceased with the construction of the Hawkesbury River bridge.

The tunnel is 1.79km (5871 feet) long, and contains the site of the first continuous welding of rail (CWR) in NSW. Rails were welded into 1/4 mile lengths and then after laying were welded into continuous lengths. An unusual aspect of the tunnel is that the Newcastle-end portal of the bore is more southerly than the south-end portal.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Woy Woy Railway Tunnel has historic significance as at the time of its construction it was the longest tunnel in Australia and was recognised as one of two major engineering feats on the Short North Line, the other being the Hawkesbury River Rail Bridge. The tunnel has associations with the linking of Sydney and Newcastle by rail and remains an essential component of this stretch of line.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Along with other tunnels on the Short North line it adds to the aesthetic significance of the line as a whole with its man made engineering elements contrasting with the natural surrounds of the Hawkesbury River region. The tunnels add to the experience of travelling on the Sydney to Newcastle line.

The tunnel has technical significance. It demonstrates the skills and technology available at the time of construction and it forms part of a set of tunnels and bridges on the Short North line that demonstrate a high degree of engineering achievement in building a railway line in difficult terrain. At the time of its construction it was the longest railway tunnel in Australia. It is currently the longest railway tunnel in NSW (excluding the Sydney City Circle underground network).
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The tunnel itself has minimal archaeological research potential. However, the navvy camp near the Mullet Creek portal has considerable potential to inform our understanding of the working lives of railway construction workers (Allen, 1996). Archaeological remains of railway workers camps on the scale likely to remain at the Woy Woy tunnel are rare in NSW.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The tunnel is not rare. There are numerous other examples of this construction in the State and on the Short North line, including Tickhole Tunnel and the tunnels in the vicinity of the Hawkesbury River Rail Bridge. It is however, the longest tunnel outside the Sydney underground network, which makes it distinctive.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The tunnel is a good example of its type and is representative of double track railway tunnels within the NSW rail network. It is the oldest tunnel still still in use in NSW and the longest tunnel outside the Sydney underground rail network.
Integrity/Intactness: The tunnel is intact and has a high degree of integrity, despite modifications which have not impacted its significance.
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 0183528 Jun 13 793134
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register  18 Mar 10   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 NSW Department of Commerce  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Writtengosford.nsw.gov.au/library/local_history/Suburbs/documents/history-of-woy-woy The History of Woy Woy
WrittenJohn Forsyth. Line Histories
WrittenRay Love2009Historical Research for RailCorp s170 Update
WrittenSingleton C.C. The Short North. ARHS Bulletin. Various issues
WrittenState Rail Authority of New South Wales.1995How and Why of Station Names. Fourth Edition

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: 5061203


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.