Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box

Item details

Name of item: Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Signal Box
Location: Lat: -33.47510372 Long: 150.17351609
Primary address: Gas Works Lane, Lithgow, NSW 2790
Parish: Lett
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Lithgow
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Bathurst
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Gas Works LaneLithgowLithgowLettCookPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box is significant as a large and imposing elevated timber signal box that has remained in continuous operation since 1925. The signal box retains most of its original equipment and is an excellent example of a traditional early 1900's elevated timber railway signal box, sympathetically adapted to operate electric light signals and power activated points mechanisms. It is now one of the largest signal boxes remaining from a relatively small sub-group of standard railway building types. Located close to Eskbank Railway Station, the signal box is an important part of the larger historic Lithgow railway corridor controlling access to and from Eskbank locomotive depot, local colliery branch lines as well as locomotives using the nearby 1888 on-line overhead coaling bunker. As such, the signal box has strong associations with the surrounding industrial history of Lithgow, and remains as an important element in the evolution of railway operations in the area.
Date significance updated: 02 Dec 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: New South Wales Government Railways
Builder/Maker: NSW Government Railways
Construction years: 1885-1925
Physical description: BUILDINGS
Coal Stage Signal Box, type I, timber elevated (1925)

External: A large rectangular elevated timber framed traditional signal box of a standard design with a hipped corrugated iron roof, lapped timber weatherboard wall cladding and timber framed sliding multi-pane sash windows. At the east end there is a recent steel framed staircase with a landing above the ground floor entry door.

Internal: The signal control room's walls are clad with flat beaded edge boards with flat asbestos cement panels sheeting to the ceiling. The signal and point control level mechanism remains of 64 levers while 41 still operating levers have been sympathetically adapted to operate the power light signals, points and track diagram. Also retained is an older model of telephone system, bells and other signal tools. The ground floor has exposed timber frame and ceiling/floor with the chains and rods of the interlocking lever mechanism. The space is also used for storage purposes.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The condition of the building and equipment is good.
Date condition updated:10 Dec 09
Modifications and dates: 1957: Signal system adapted for electric light signals.
Current use: Railway Signal Box
Former use: Nil


Historical notes: The line opened in 1869 but there was no station for Lithgow until 1877.

Lithgow Coal Stage Box is the third built in this locality and was constructed in 1925 to cater for the expanded marshalling yards and locomotive depot which replaced the original Eskbank loco Depot. It was a standard design of the period. The box takes its name from the 1888 unique on-line overhead coaling bunker, now demolished, but which existed when the box was built and was situated immediately westwards. It controlled access to and from the locomotive depot, local colliery branch lines as well as locomotives using the 1888 on-line overhead coaling bunker. Initially, it contained 64 mechanical levers but now many of those are not in use. In 1957 with electrification of the Lithgow Yard its signalling system was adapted for changing technology including electric light signalling. The original timber steps have been replaced by metal steps.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box is of historical significance as one of the largest and most intact traditional timber signal boxes remaining in the State and continues in operating condition dating from 1925. It is part of the larger Lithgow railway historic precinct and marks an important phase in the evolution of railway operations in the city.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Coal Stage signal box has strong associations with the earlier coaling operations as well as the branch colliery and other industrial lines in particular the State Mine and Power Station line.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Coal Stage Signal Box is of aesthetic significance as an excellent and intact example of the traditional larger timber elevated signal box.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Signal Box has a high level of both technical and research potential for its ability to demonstrate characteristics and design requirements of standard elevated timber boxes of the 1920s as well as changing technology in the signalling system.
SHR Criteria f)
Coal Stage Signal Box is relatively rare as an operating box of this vintage.
SHR Criteria g)
The Signal Box is a representative example of traditional timber elevated signal boxes of its design. Other examples at Homebush, Parramatta, Mount Victoria, Hamilton, (brick) Lithgow Yard, Katoomba, Newnes Junction (weatherboard).
Integrity/Intactness: The Signal Box retains a high level of intactness, and its integrity is excellent due to its operational status.
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
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
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT 1977

Order Under Section 57(2) to Grant Site Specific Exemptions from Approval

Lithgow Coal Stage Signal Box
SHR No. 1832

I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, do, by this my order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of that Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any activities described in Schedule "C" on the land described in Schedule "B" on the item described in Schedule "A".

The Hon Robyn Parker, MP.
Minister for Heritage

Sydney, 8th Day of April 2013


The item known as Lithgow (James Street) Underbridge, situated on the land described in Schedule "B".


All those pieces or parcels of land known shown on the plan catalogued HC 2559 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.


Exemptions -
Standard Exemptions

Reason/ comments
These cover a full range of activities that do not require Heritage Council approval, including Standard Exemption 7 which allows consideration of additional unspecified types of minor works for exemption.
Exemptions -
1.Installation of modern signalling equipment and services, provided it does not interfere with the existing significant equipment and layout, or impact on heritage significance.
2.Relocation or removal of existing internal equipment of no heritage significance.
3.Office fit-out alterations including the replacement, relocation or addition of non-structural internal partitions, workstations or other furnishings that do not alter or add openings, walls, or structural fabric that has been identified as being significant; and have no adverse impact on significant furnishings, layouts, fabric or spaces.
4.Upgrade, repair or replacement of existing exterior staircase with similar or compatible structure, providing there is no adverse impact on the heritage significance of the place.
5.All work to heritage fabric shall be undertaken by qualified tradesmen with practical experience in the conservation of similar items.

Reason/ comments
To provide for the continued operation and day-to-day maintenance of the site without the need to obtain Heritage Council approval where those activities do not impact on the heritage significance of the site.
Aug 30 2013

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0183230 Aug 13 1073934
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 City Plan Heritage  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenARHS2009Historical information prepared for S170 update project
WrittenForsyth J.H1974Historical Notes on Railway Lines
WrittenSharp, S.1984Survey of Railway Structures in NSW
WrittenSingleton, C.C.1950‘Station Arrangement son the Blue Mountains’Bulletins Nos.153/4 ARHS Bulletins Nos.153/4
WrittenTaaffe, R.T.1990The Use and Selection of Materials in Railway Signal Box Construction
WrittenTaaffe, R.T.1985The Development of Railway and Tramway Signal Boxes in NSW 1855-1912

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: 5061200

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