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You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Eveleigh Rail Heritage

Eveleigh Rail Heritage

The former Eveleigh Railyards are one of the most important industrial and heritage sites in Sydney - they also have International significance. For many years Government did not see value in this heritage and years of neglect saw many important artifices loss due to neglect. In September 2008 the RWA recognised the importance of heritage on the former Eveleigh rail yards by granting a lease to the ATP Blacksmith which recognised the role of active heritage operations, conservation and community education in the establishment of the Technology Park. In the same month the RWA produced a two page Heritage Interpretation Strategy for their Preferred Project Report for North Eveleigh which foreshadowed rail heritage tourism possibilities across the former railway site. The heritage potential of the area has been further strengthened by the decision of RailCorp to hold onto the Large Erecting Shop for heritage rail purposes for immediate future. A meeting of heritage organisations, practitioners and residents in October 2008 called on the Minister for Redfern Waterloo to set up round table of government and heritage groups to develop a comprehensive Eveleigh Rail Heritage and Tourism Strategy with heritage players for the site. A Redfern Waterloo Heritage Taskforce was finally established and met until early 2011. Its main outcome was a Eveleigh Heritage Interpretation Strategy and the recognition of the importance of the areas heritage. Here as part of the campaign to save the heritage we collected information relating to the former Eveleigh rail yards and subsequently the Taskforce and other initiatives.
Heritage Overview of the Former Eveleigh Railway Yards – September 2008
Following the Campaign to save the Heritage Blacksmith at the ATP there has been a lot of interest in the site and the heritage issues around the site. Geoffrey Turnbull from REDWatch has provided below a quick heritage overview which sets out the issues as he sees them at the end of September 2008.
Heritage Listings & Significance
The Former Eveleigh Rail yards were considered of world importance by the Smithsonian Institute and a number of listings on parts of the site appear on the NSW Heritage Register. In 2007 and 2008 attempts have been made to obtain National Heritage Listing for the Large Erecting Shop. In both these years the Large also featured in the National Trust's 10 most at risk heritage sites in Australia. Details of listings can be found here.
Eveleigh's Tourism Potential
With its mixture of active heritage in the Blacksmith Shop and the Large ant the retention of many of the former railway buildings and associated manufacturing equipment Eveleigh has great potential as a rail heritage tourism destination. The RWA's Heritage Interpretation Strategy envisages "Use of the Heritage Walk Bridge, the Baggage Carriage and Coffee shop as part of an organised Heritage Walk through the North Eveleigh and ATP sites. This will use audio discs available for hire as well as tours organized by volunteer guides". Here you can find information about Eveleigh's tourism potential.
The Large Erecting Shop
Under the RWA proposed zoning the Large Erecting Shop could be replaced by an up to 12 storey building and the current heritage rail tours, maintenance and training being undertaken from the site could have been lost. There has been a long campaign to save the this operational heritage. RailCorps decision in 2008 to retain the building for heritage rail use has been welcomed. Properly managed the "Large" could not only be an important operational heritage site but it could also be a significant heritage tourism attraction.
The Blacksmiths & The Technology Park
When the Technology Park was established its Development Approval detailed the requirement for the preservation of many aspects of Eveleigh's technology and equipment including the active heritage use of the Blacksmith shop and other heritage equipment. While some of the machines mentioned in the approval have been retained others sit outside deteriorating or have never been maintained as required. Funds received for heritage preservation and presentation were never expended. Implementing the Heritage Conservation Plan for the Technology Park could create additional heritage attractions within Eveleigh. Here we have some information on what could happen on the ATP part of the site.
North Eveleigh's Heritage
The central Carriage Works building on North Eveleigh has been renovated to become a contemporary performing arts space while preserving the grandeur of the former workshop. Other key sites here include the Paint Shop, the Chief Mechanical Engineers building and the Telecommunications buildings among others. This site is currently going up for sale and redevelopment and there is a need to ensure that this part of the heritage precinct retains key elements of the rail yards. The current two page Heritage Interpretation Strategy for the site is judged inadequate by heritage groups with an interest in the site. Here you can find out more about the heritage tourism potential of North Eveleigh.
Remembering Eveleigh's Workers
Much of NSW's industrial and labour history is linked to the the Eveleigh rail yards. A workers register was started in 1999 with a proposal for a Worker's Wall on the site from that time now being investigated by the RWA. There is however not just a need for a Wall to remember the workers there is also a need for a repository of memorabilia and oral history to capture and convey some of the stories and social history of the people who worked and lived in the area and who made the rail ways work. Here you will find some ideas of how this element could be incorporated into a heritage interpretation for Eveleigh.
A Real Heritage Walk
Here we are not talking about the RWA's "Heritage Walk pedestrian and bike bridge" we are interested in what someone visiting Eveleigh might be able to see and visit on either a self guided tour or with a tour guide. This paints a picture of what the site has to offer to an overseas train enthusiast visiting Australia's global city as well as what it might offer to a local visitor or school seeking to understand the former rail yards and their significance to the area, the state and Australia's labour history.
Towards an Eveleigh Heritage & Tourism Strategy
To make the most of the heritage and tourism potential of the site there is a need for Government, Heritage Interests, businesses and residents to develop a comprehensive plan for the Eveleigh site. After reviewing the RWA's heritage strategy heritage interests, local businesses and residents called on the Minister for Redfern Waterloo to establish a committee / round table of government bodies and interested parties to develop a Heritage and Tourism Strategy for Eveleigh. Here you will find information relating to this strategy, starting with the RWA's current two page proposal.
Redfern Waterloo Heritage Taskforce
In early 2010 the Redfern Waterloo established the Redfern Waterloo Heritage Taskforce and subsequently a Eveleigh Steering Committee. Here you can find out more about the RWHT and ESC.