Picton Railway Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Picton Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Picton Railway Precinct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: , Picton, NSW 2571
Parish: Picton
County: Camden
Local govt. area: Wollondilly


The curtilage of the the locomotive depot extends from the Down side railway boundary to the southbound railway line from 84.700 to 84.900km South: Prince St road overbridge West: Property boundary, Campell Street North North: End of station platform East: Property boundary
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 PictonWollondillyPictonCamdenPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Picton Railway Precinct is of state significance as one of the earliest surviving railway locations in NSW, opening in 1863 only eight years after the first line from Sydney to Parramatta in 1855. Picton Railway Precinct is significant as the terminus of the Southern line until 1867 prior to the extension of the Great Southern Line through to Mittagong, Goulburn and on to Albury. The construction of the line to Picton is significant for its association with John Whitton, Engineer-in-Chief of the NSWGR, and was one of his early achievements during his long career. The design of the Picton station building is also attributed to Whitton and is a fine example of a simple Victorian Georgian style station building that remains substantially intact. The signal box built in 1919 is a good example of an elevated timber signal box, representative of other similar structures in the network.
Date significance updated: 23 Jul 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.


Designer/Maker: John Whitton
Construction years: 1863-1919
Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building - type 3, 2nd class station building (1863)
Signal Box - two-storey, timber with hipped roof (1919)
Lifts and new footbridge (2010)

Remains of engine shed at 84.800km

The Station Building is a simple single-storey Victorian Georgian style building. The building sits on a stone plinth with painted brickwork walls and a symmetrical front elevation with 2 x 6 pane double hung timber framed sash windows.

The building has a linear arrangement with attached parapeted wings at each end containing toilets in one wing and lamp room in the other. The other facilities in the building include a ladies waiting room, telegraph office, booking office and clerk’s office and baggage office. Access to the platform is through the central booking office.

The building features a hipped slate roof with a major awning to the platform rebuilt at an unknown period and originally supported on columns. The street frontage has a hipped verandah supported on timber posts.

This is a large signal box located on the platform and was constructed in 1919. It is a timber structure with windows on three sides of the upper level. Access is from the platform via an external stair with WC on the landing. The roof is hipped, clad in corrugated iron overhanging on all sides to shade the upper windows. This is one of a small number of similar boxes remaining in the state. Much of the equipment is still intact and in situ.

Platform 1 (c1867?) is a side platform made of brick and stone. Platform 2 (c1898?) is a side platform made of brick.

Remains of Engine shed at 84.800km

- Early wayfinding signage – ladies, waiting room, men (with pointing hand), Picton Signal Box
- Early Platform 1 & Platform 2 signs
- Cast Iron Bubbler on platform
- Several ‘heritage style’ timber slat and cast iron benches within waiting room, station building entrance and platform contributing to overall heritage aesthetic of the site
- Timber framed ticketing window
- NSWGR branded timber framed mirror in wall – Signal Box
- Circuit diagram in situ – signal box
- Electronic Signalling Circuit diagram in situ – signal box
- Interlocking lever frame in situ – signal box
- Timber, wall mounted telephone in situ – signal box
- Signalling/Comms bells in situ – signal box

NSW Railway heritage listed sites contain significant collections of stored movable railway heritage, including furniture, signs, operational objects, ex-booking office and ticketing objects, paper records, clocks, memorabilia, indicator boards and artwork. Individually, these objects are important components of the history of each site. Together, they form a large and diverse collection of movable objects across the NSW rail network. Sydney Trains maintains a database of movable heritage. For up-to-date information on all movable heritage items at this site, contact the Sydney Trains heritage team.

Key items at this station include but are not limited to:
- Double Indicator boards
- Original Station Master office furniture
- Luggage Trolley (platform 1)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Generally in good condition.
Date condition updated:22 Oct 09
Modifications and dates: 1892 Line duplicated from Douglas Park Ballast Siding to Picton.
1898 Station interlocked and Platform Signal Box opened.
1898 New Down platform erected and Up platform extended.
1899 First reference to watering facilities at Picton station with a 45kL and 90kL tanks installed.
1899 Milk loading dock and siding extended.
1900 Night officer’s cottage constructed.
1912 Picton North and South Signal Box opened.
1919 Picton North Signal Box closed.
1919 Picton South Signal Box relocated.
1925 18.2m long ash pit provided in Up Refuge Siding.
1926 12.1m long ash pit provided in Up Main track.
1949 Down Main track ash pit extended.
1950 228mm bore water column erected at south end of station.
1951 Footbridge erected over the tracks adjacent to the public school.
1980 Goods shed removed.
2010 Access upgrade with new lifts and footbridge. Station building restored with new paint scheme
Further information: The abandoned formation of original main line - located west of old tunnel (c.1867), and the new tunnel at 87.667km to 87.880km are managed by ARTC and are listed separately.
Current use: Railway station and relics of demolished loco depot.
Former use: Railway station and former locomotive depot.


Historical notes: Picton Railway Precinct is located on the Main South Line which stretches across NSW from Central Station in Sydney through to the Victorian border at Albury.

Following the completion of the first railway from Sydney to Parramatta Junction in 1855, proposals for the first railways to the rest of NSW were driven by postural communities interests seeking improved transport for their produce from inland centres such as Goulburn, Bathurst, Singleton and Muswellbrook. When John Whitton arrived in Sydney in 1856 to take up his position as Engineer-in-Chief of the NSW Railways, "he understood his job was to plan the extensions which would take the infant railway into the interior of Australia. At that time only the railway from Sydney to Liverpool was open, just twenty-one miles (34km) in length. Its extension to Campbelltown and beyond to the banks of the Nepean River at Menangle, a total of about seventeen miles (27km), had been surveyed" (Lee, 2000, p98). This was one of the first sections of line completed by Whitton by 1862.

The construction contract for the extension of the line from North Menangle to Picton was awarded to the English engineering firm Peto, Brassey & Betts in August 1859. Peto, Brassey and Betts were an important connection in Whitton’s early career prior to his arrival in NSW, because "it was Samuel Morton Peto who secured the position of Engineer-in-Chief of the NSW Railways for Whitton. Moreover, after Whitton was in Australia, naturally enough it was to Peto, Brassey and Betts he turned to when the Colonial Government decided to bring in English contractors to build its railways" (Lee, 2000, p98).

When John Whitton planned the railway extension from Campbelltown to Picton, he was under pressure from government to keep costs low by using as much local material as possible, and originally proposed a timber bridge for crossing the Nepean River at Menangle. However following a large flood in 1860, Whitton designed a high level wrought iron large span bridge to get extra clearance from the waterway. Flanked by long timber approach viaducts, the bridge was a total of 582 m (1,909 feet). It was a massive structure for its time, comprising 5,909 cubic yards of masonry, 1,089 cubic yards of brickwork and 936 tons of wrought iron for a total cost of 94,562 pounds. The completion of the bridge in 1863 was an internationally recognised engineering achievement (Lee, 2000).

The single line from North Menangle to Picton opened on 1 July 1863 with Picton Station opening on the same date. The contract for the construction of the station buildings was awarded to M Jamieson & Eaton. The design of the Georgian style station building at Picton is attributed to Whitton and was completed for the opening of the single line in 1863. Other notable early stations attributed to Whitton include Mittagong, Moss Vale, Scone, Muswellbrook, Penrith (No.3 platform), Bowenfels and Mount Victoria. These early buildings borrow heavily from Whitton's design experience in England and increasingly move from Georgian to Victorian architectural styles and represent Whitton’s obstinate faith in British railway standards and workmanship which continued throughout his career (Lee, 2000).

A goods shed and engine shed were also constructed at Picton in 1863. Picton remained the terminus of the line until the line was extended to Mittagong in 1867. Following controversy over the expense of the Nepean River Bridge at Menangle and another wrought iron bridge to span the Nepean River at Penrith, Whitton was denied funds to continue with the construction of additional expensive wrought iron girder bridges. As such for the Picton to Mittagong railway extension in 1867 Whitton used stone for the arched Stonequarry Creek railway viaduct (Lee, 2000).

Early additions to the Picton station yard included erection of cattleyards (1877), a Station Master’s residence (1878), waiting room converted from an old store room and hall (1884), and an overbridge erected at Prince Street (1898) (Forsyth, 2009).

In 1919, as part of the duplication of the Southern Line, a new line was built between Picton and Mittagong via Bargo to ease the grades on the original line via Thirlmere and Colo Vale.

Historic photographs show a small timber waiting shed on each platform and a small timber booking office on the Up platform. Historic plans also show station yard arrangements which included an Institute Building and adjacent tennis court, drivers barracks, turntable, coal stage, three water tanks and a water column located to south of station. All these have since been demolished as well as the 1863 goods shed and Engine Shed. The Station Master’s residence is still extant but is no longer in railway ownership.

The original single line tunnel on the Mittagong side of Picton is now owned by Council.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Migration-Activities and processes associated with the resettling of people from one place to another (international, interstate, intrastate) and the impacts of such movements Migrants as railway promoters and managers-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Servicing the pastoral industry-
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-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Evolution of design in railway engineering and architecture-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Significant railway identities-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Picton Railway Precinct has historic significance as one of the earliest surviving railway locations in NSW, opening only eight years after the first line from Sydney to Parramatta in 1855. Picton Railway Precinct is significant as the terminus of the line until 1867 prior to the extension of the Great Southern Line through to Mittagong, Goulburn and on to Albury.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Picton Railway Precinct has historic associational significance for its association with John Whitton, Engineer-in-Chief of the NSWGR (known as the ‘Father of the NSW Railways’), and was one of his early achievements during his long career. The design of the Picton station building is also attributed to Whitton and is a fine example of a simple Victorian Georgian style station building that remains substantially intact.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Picton Railway Precinct has aesthetic significance as a fine example of a simple Victorian Georgian style station building that remains substantially intact.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site is of social significance to the local community on account of its lengthy association for providing an important source of employment, trade and social interaction for the local area. The site is significant for its ability to contribute to the local community’s sense of place, is a distinctive feature of the daily life of many community members, and provides a connection to the local community’s past.
SHR Criteria g)
The site has representative significance for its collection of railway structures that collectively demonstrate widespread 19th and early 20th century railway customs, activities and design in NSW, and are representative of similar items that are found at other railway sites across the state. The station building is classified as a ‘Type 3’ Second-Class station building and is one of the earliest examples of approximately 40 other extant similar station buildings across NSW. The signal box built in 1919 is a good example of an elevated timber signal box and is similar to approximately nine other signal boxes in the network.
Integrity/Intactness: The station building has a moderate level of integrity apart from the removal of the platform awning and replacement with existing awning structure.
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.

Recommended management:

1. Conservation principles: Conserve cultural heritage significance and minimise impacts on heritage values and fabric in accordance with the ‘Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance’. 2. Specialist advice: Seek advice from a qualified heritage specialist during all phases of a proposed project from feasibility, concept and option planning stage; detailed design; heritage approval and assessment; through to construction and finalisation. 3. Documentation: Prepare a Statement of Heritage Impact (SOHI) to assess, minimise and prevent heritage impacts as part of the assessment and approval phase of a project. Prepare a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) prior to proposing major works (such as new additions, change of use or proposed demolition) at all places of State significance and all complex sites of Local significance. 4. Maintenance and repair: Undertake annual inspections and proactive routine maintenance works to conserve heritage fabric in accordance with the ‘Minimum Standards of Maintenance & Repair’. 5. Movable heritage: Retain in situ and care for historic contents, fixtures, fittings, equipment and objects which contribute to cultural heritage significance. Return or reinstate missing features or relocated items where opportunities arise. 6. Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage: Consider all aspects of potential heritage significance as part of assessing and minimising potential impacts, including Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage. 7. Unidentified heritage items: Heritage inventory sheets do not describe or capture all contributory heritage items within an identified curtilage (such as minor buildings, structures, archaeology, landscape elements, movable heritage and significant interiors and finishes). Ensure heritage advice is sought on all proposed changes within a curtilage to conserve heritage significance. 8. Recording and register update: Record changes at heritage places through adequate project records and archival photography. Notify all changes to the Section 170 Heritage & Conservation Register administrator upon project completion.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA271State Rail Authority  No
S170 Register Update Project2009 ARTC/ ORH  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenJohn H Forsyth2009NSW Railway Stations - An Alphabetical Arrangement of Railway Station and Place Names
WrittenMcKillop, R2009NSW Railways (RailCorp) Thematic History
WrittenState Rail Authority of NSW1993How and why of station names

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: State Government
Database number: 4806271

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